The trifecta of powerful website design today is one that attracts the right audience, generates leads, and accurately represents your brand and tone of voice. While it’s not an easy task to create a site that successfully does all three things, it’s not impossible either.
For brand managers and website designers, the key focus is often on the site design – how it looks and whether or not it presents an appropriate brand image. This may lead to a tug of war between form and function. But you must not overlook the importance of search engine optimization (SEO) in attracting the right audience and delivering leads. After all, your website isn’t just a pretty face, it needs to work for you as well.
Don’t let any of these five common design mistakes destroy your website SEO.
Common website design mistakes
1. Splash pages.
Starting a website with an intro screen and little relevant content is a sure-fire SEO killer. Creating entry pages (such as those with a huge graphic and only one link like “click here”), tell Google (and other search engines) that your page is nothing but a large advertisement. Quality websites have content on every page, including the home page. Make sure your home page showcases the best of you have to offer and includes copy that is frequently updated.
2. Lack of compelling content.
Websites that put all the emphasis on design and have very little content are doomed to end up at the bottom of SERPs (search engine results pages). A successful website uses design to help showcase the important content and direct the readers to what matters. The easier it is for them to find what they are looking for, the longer they will stay on your site. (And perhaps come back again or tell others about it by “sharing” your content).
Readers “vote” for your site with their eyeballs and visit duration. The longer they stay on a page (because they are reading relevant content), the more search engines will reward your site with higher rankings. But it’s also important that your content is relevant not only to your target audience but also relevant to the keywords for which you’ve optimized your page. (You did optimize your page for keywords, right?)
Adding focused content to each page, so that each page is about a particular “topic” will help your website attain better SEO. Write your pages using the language and keywords your potential customers would use when searching for your products or services or for solutions that meet their needs.
3. Too many images, too little text.
A website that is made up primarily of images or worse Flash (no one is still doing that in 2015 right?), has very little meaty content for search engines to index. A picture may be worth a 1,000 words, but 1,000 words will do more for your website SEO.
Flash may be OK for Jim Carrey (he doesn’t need SEO) but if you want people to find your content, don’t create your entire site out of Flash, even if it is very creative, fun and beautiful.
Here again, what you need is a careful balance between what is appealing to your audience graphically, and content that will improve your website’s SEO. Finding the ideal balance between text and images is essential if you’re relying on website traffic to deliver leads. If you don’t care about people finding you on search engines, then by all means design that eye-popping flash site that showcases your design brilliance.
4. Slow page loading.
A poorly designed site, such as one with bad coding or too many large, heavy graphics, will load slowly. This is a kiss of death to your website SEO. Speedy page load times are essential to an optimized website.
Google has stated that page load times factor into site rankings. The assumption here is that faster loading makes happy visitors, and happy visitors are what Google is after, as well you should be.
5. Ineffective page, title and image naming.
Failing to name your images (the “alt” text that appears on image hovers), page meta titles (which appear in browser windows), and URLs with your keywords is a common mistake, but these are among the important elements for good on-page SEO.
Don’t leave the name of your pages, images and URLs up to your developer or the person entering your content. Create a focused program that addresses your website keywords and matches your page content. The titles, URLs and alt tags for each page should be unique and reflect the content of that page. What matters is relevance. Describe and name your content in a way that is meaningful to your audience. That’s not so hard right?