Design Has a Big Effect on SEO

By | August 12, 2019

Hello, this is John Locke. Today I want to
talk with you for just a few minutes on why design is such an overlooked, but important
aspect of SEO. Does Design Affect SEO? There are a lot of factors that go into SEO. But
the three that really stand out to me as the three legs of the table that hold up the structure
are: high-quality content, a robust and relevant back link profile, and user experience. Under
user experience, I really look at these factors: the overall design of the site, the site speed,
how easy it is for people to find what it is that they are looking for, and the overall
vibe that they get from being on your website. Is it a pleasant experience overall? And can
they find what they’re looking for quickly and efficiently? Before I go any further,
let’s explain why design is so important to SEO. A lot of people don’t know this, but
Google has what are called Quality Rater Search Guidelines. This is a document that goes each
year to their human Quality Guideline Raters. They actually employ people whose job it is
to look at search results and look at the actual quality of what’s being selected [in
search results]. Their job is basically to pick what a human would pick [out of the available
choices]. And then the Google engineers take that information and try to program the algorithm,
the actual ranking algorithm of Google, to duplicate what a human would pick. This is
part of what is going into their machine learning. In a way, Google does use humans to look at
the quality of pages to help the actual Google ranking algorithm determine what things are
good, and what things are not so good. The two most important ranking signals in Google
are quality of content, and the link profile. It’s pretty easy to see what words are on
a page, and measure things such as how long somebody is on a page, how many pages people
visit while they are on your site, how many people click on a given search result in a
given position, and measuring that against the average of that position. Likewise, it’s
also easy to measure how many links are coming into a given website. And with Google’s last
few [major] updates to the core algorithm, they have gotten much better at determining
what a page is actually about. So, pages that link to you that are similar to your page
are going to be given more weight. It’s hard to quantify design, and how many people like
what they are seeing. That’s where the human quality raters come in. They can help Google
understand what is a well-designed site, and what are the characteristics [of a good website].
When users are happy with your site, are they spending more time on it? Are they scrolling
farther down the page? Are they taking more actions? Such as clicking more buttons? Those
are things that they can measure. They can measure things on the page through Google
Analytics. One of the things that is very interesting about the Quality Rater Guidelines
— they have a section where it talks about an acronym called E-A-T. E. A. T. Which stands
for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. Google is looking at the expertise of your
site, how authoritative your site is, and the trustworthiness of your site. So this
is where design comes into play. One of the sections in here that I find very interesting
is when these Quality Raters are looking at a page, they are told to look at certain things.
Like the main content of the page, is a satisfying amount? Does it answer your question? But
one of the things that is very interesting that is mentioned there is they are told to
look at the time, expertise, talent, and quality that went into making this website. In other
words, the design and the expertise that is showing in the actual design of your website
is a factor that they are told to look at. And told to weigh into whether they trust
this site or not. Case in point, if you’re on your mobile phone, and you’re looking at
a site, and it is not mobile-friendly, then there’s probably not a lot of time, expertise,
talent went into making this site. If your site looks like it was made in 1995, and every
other site looks like it was made in 2018, or at least in the last year or two, then
not a lot of time, expertise, talent, or skill went into making your site. These things really
do matter. It’s not just taking some SEO dust and sprinkling it on at the end. You really
do have to put some thought into the design, and make it easy for people to find what they’re
looking for. But also, making it a pleasant experience for your customers. Design does
matter. The more appealing a design is, the better experience that your customers are
going to have, and the longer that they are going to stay on your website. If they go
to your site, and it looks janky, and old, and cheap, and lame, they’re probably not
going to trust your site, and they’re probably going to bounce away (click back to the set
of Google results) and pick something else. Those are negative signals and those are things
which can end up hurting your rankings over time. Two other things that are in the Quality
Rater Guidelines that I find very interesting. They say, How often is the site being updated?
Publishing on a regular basis is a sign of authority and trustworthiness, meaning you
care about your site. Another thing that was in the Quality Rater Guidelines is, If the
site is too distracting for you to use, and find what you’re looking for, that’s a bad
sign. What do I think is a good timeline for redesigning your site? About every two to
four years is about how often you should be redesigning your website. You should be tracking
what products, what information, what pages are popular on your site, and maybe making
more of those. And you should also be looking at where people are clicking [once they are
on a page]. You can use tools like CrazyEgg to track that information. Those are important
things to look at, and they can help guide you into a better design that is more satisfying
to your customers. If you’re not convinced by this yet, I would say…If you had two
websites that you were trying to buy a product from, and one looked like it was designed
in 1997, and the other one looked like it was designed in 2017, which one would you
put your credit card information into? I think the choice is very clear. Design really does
make a difference. You have to upkeep your site. It’s not something that you can build
once, and then completely forget about and never touch again. It doesn’t work like that,
it’s something that you should be thinking about, how to improve it. SEO is a thing where
it’s a lot of incremental improvements over time. It’s not any one or two magic bullets
that solve everything for you all the time. It’s a lot of incremental progress, and a
lot of incremental improvement. In the last couple minutes of the video, I want to go
over really quickly, why I think web design companies that are well-versed in SEO are
going to have a distinct advantage over web agencies that are strictly about the design
and development and have little to no understanding of SEO. Here’s why design often gets overlooked.
A lot of the time, SEO and web design and development are looked at as two different
aspects of building a website that’s going to generate leads. Or money. Or revenue. Which
is what you want a website to do. Often, there are two different sets of agencies handling
this. Over here, you might have a web agency that specializes in things like branding,
design, and building the basic site, but they might know nothing about SEO. And then over
here, you might have a SEO company that understands things like building links, keyword density,
or things of that nature. And I think that model is very broken in a lot of ways. Because
whoever gets to that client first, is usually going to get the bulk of their budget. And
instead of working together as a cohesive unit, the two agencies are really battling
for who is going to get paid. Also, I think it’s important to point out, if we’re talking
about straight-up marketing sites, basic e-commerce sites, or a site where you’re selling a service
or you’re selling a product to people — I believe that SEO companies that have a handle
on, and a background in web design and development are going to have a distinct advantage over
agencies that are just bound to design and development, and don’t understand SEO. And
here’s why I say that. The people out there who are watching this — if you’re hiring
agencies, if you’re hiring consultants — you’re basically hiring someone to build you a website
that will generate traffic. You want a site that looks nice, but in the end, what you
really want is more business. You want more revenue, more customers, more traffic, more
money coming into your bottom line. And if the website is not doing that, then it’s not
doing it’s job. So where the SEO companies have an advantage: Instead of being a design
and development agency that [tries to] do SEO [on the side], instead, become an agency
that does SEO where design and development is part of the SEO. Because in the end, that’s
what you’re going for anyway. And being able to have that third leg of the table — with
the content, wit the link building, and the design and development — it makes the whole
structure better. If you’re getting value out of these videos, do me a favor, go ahead
and Subscribe. If you have a SEO question of your own that you’d like us to answer,
go ahead and leave that in the comments below. And then we’ll answer that out in a video
for you. My name is John Locke. My business is Lockedown Design and SEO. We help manufacturers
and industrial companies with SEO, helping them get more search traffic through Google,
and helping them get more Requests for Quotes. Peace.

One thought on “Design Has a Big Effect on SEO

  1. John Locke Post author

    Design has an effect on SEO. If your site looks like garbage, people won't trust it. Consider the legibility and text contrast. Are you guiding customers to the content you want to highlight? Keeping people on your site is the name of the game. Have a SEO question? Leave it in the comments, and we'll answer it in a future video. Peace.


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