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Design and search? Building better user journeys through creative and technical

It may seem that search optimisation is all technical and no creative, but that’s not exactly true. User experience is a big part of being successful within the search results and with that design and navigation play a significant role.

From bad designs resulting in high bounce rates to slow load speeds and uncompressed images resulting in dramatically reduced session durations, your website appearance can result in serious effects to your SEO capabilities.

Maintaining your web traffic

Whether you’re an e-commerce site or a news publication, web traffic is a metric for success and is vital to building a viewership or customer base. An easy to use website, which is navigatable by even the least tech-savvy individual, can support in retaining customers who arrive at your site.

A cutting-edge site that incorporates video, VR, AR and all the rest may seem impressive but is it really going to be easy to navigate for users to find the desired information. Sometimes a simpler approach, particularly on the home page, can be equally as effective, it all depends on your brand and audience.

Get Google to like you

Discovering information is what its all about, that’s why Google is more likely to favor a site that has above-the-line information which answers a query or resolves a problem, without the need to scroll past needless imagery or fluff.

With this in mind, your page layouts should consider how easily a user can navigate to find the answers they’re looking for. How much effort does this take and is the information clear, concise and written to suit the desired audience? These are all questions your designer should be asking when creating the appearance of your site.

What is indexable content?

Google collects information and indexes content using ‘spiders’ or ‘bots’ which look at all the information on the site and make connections to certain terms and phrases. In order to allow bots to collect all of the most relevant information on your site, you should ensure that this is in HTML text format.

Bots cannot ‘see’ your images, so it’s important to tag these appropriately with alt text. Using the alt text to include a text description of the image allows them to return your image within an image search and gain a holistic understanding of the information on that page.

Search boxes should be supplemented with navigation bars and links through to all of the other pages to ensure that the bots can make links between them and understand the layout of the site.

Alongside this, any flash or javascript should be accompanied by an HTML text version on the page, as well as transcripts for video and audio content which allows for this to be indexed for search engines more effectively.

How do spiders view your site?

If you’re concerned about the indexable content on your site, you can double check what elements are visible and crawlable to search engines and which are not. This can allow you to better prioritise the design of your site to include the vital information on site as HTML text.

Using the Google cache feature you are better able to see what the search engines see when they crawl your website and this can help you determine what is truly important and what is just fluff.

Tag everything

Imagery and assets make for a better-looking site and can aid in explaining the topic of a page, however, as previously mentioned, spiders can’t see them. That’s why it’s crucial to use alt text effectively to ensure that they can gain an understanding of what you’re showing the user.

Furthermore, ensuring that you implement title tags, meta descriptions and headers correctly will better assist bots in building a picture of the overarching subject matter.

Additionally, headers can support in creating a better flow within the text. By using ‘Header 1’ to denote the topic of the text and the subsequent headers to divide up the topic into smaller chunks of information. Your users can then more easily skip to the bits they need and skim over those they don’t.

Bad designs lead to bounces

Users love a website that is easily navigatable, looks swish and doesn’t take an age to load. Where your site doesn’t tick all these boxes, they’re likely to jump ship relatively quickly and this can lead to soaring bounce rates.

A lower dwell time or ‘average session duration’ points to reduced interest in the content or a poor UX, with users expressing no interest in what the site or page has to offer. Often a longer session duration means that your users are engaging with your content and are finding value in it.

If your Google Analytics is revealing that many of your users are only visiting one page before leaving the site, with little to no interaction, this could mean that your site navigation is not well thought out. Taking the time to consider how users get from A to B and what drives this journey can mean that you better capture the attention of your users and encourage further actions, such as enquiring or purchasing.

Finally, pop-ups can lead to potential penalisation from Google. There are rules around how much of the screen pop-ups can reasonably cover without Google taking issue, these also apply to where on your site pop-ups occur and after how much time. For example, if pop-ups appear right away, are difficult to close and take up the whole screen, you could see your position in the SERP’s in jeopardy.

No more slow mo

The amount of sites with poor load times is unfathomable, and with this directly affecting your user experience its important to keep an eye on how long it takes to load your site on both desktop and mobile.

The likes of Pingdom and Google Page Speed can easily let you know how slowly your site is loading and what could be causing lagging. One of the most common causes of slow load speeds is uncompressed assets on the site. Images that are massive in size can result in the site loading extra slow and can easily be fixed offering a more streamlined experience.

Make it for mobile

If you’re not designing a responsive website which scales effectively for use on mobile then what are you even doing here? Mobile is no longer optional or new, and with over 52% of all web traffic worldwide generated through mobile use, in 2018, you can’t afford to ignore it.

If your content isn’t optimised to fit on smaller devices, including smartphones and tablets, not only are you missing out on that critical commuter browsing, you’re going to be abandoning the 1.2 billion people globally who access the internet from their smartphones.

If you need help designing and creating a site which is optimised to meet your search objectives as well as ensure excellent user experience, why not give us a call? We’ve got a solution to meet every budget and brand.

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