What Is Needed For Proactive, SEO-Friendly Web Design?
As a former international art dealer, I will be the first to tell you that as it relates to my personal aesthetic, minimalism in art just feels awesome. Leaving something to the imagination of the beholder demonstrates an artist’s confidence, creativity, and understanding that what is not shown is often as important as what we show.
To a major extent, in website design, the same is true. Websites which are busy and have tons of text and images and video and links and listings and more this and more that and an extra bit of this (you get the idea), that leave no available digital real estate for a design to breath, are, for me, non-starters. I just click away and find another option.
To those website owners who are inclined to “clutter” their websites, I would offer the following thoughts:
- Messaging is the key, and cluttered elements obstruct the message you are trying to convey.
- Page clutter or too many elements can irritate the viewer as well as confuse them.
- People often don’t read the text you write anyway, so seeing tons of text can be unpleasant for those inclined to not read much .
- A website is not the place to “get out all of your stuff”—you can do that elsewhere.
- Simple click navigation, easy to use buttons, and links which are obvious and well-placed are a winning formula. Don’t take it from me—take a look at the data.
With an understanding that minimalism is great in art, and too much “content” or clutter on a website can be undesirable for the visitor, it is time to close the deal on minimalism for those seeking to grow their business or service using the amazing power of search engine optimization (SEO).
Stated as simply as possible: Google and other major search engines do not want to send searchers who are seeking what you offer to either a minimalist site absent of content, nor to a cluttered, poorly functioning site. They want a site rich in content but designed in a user friendly, exciting and interactive way.
I get several calls per week from website and business owners who want SEO services, as they should (thank you to all of you in advance).
The first step I take is to do a quick visual website audit. I often get no further than this first step— and a phone call or email is in order. They often come to me after they just paid for a new website, and are “now ready to optimize it”. Although I feel a “shoot the messenger” moment coming, I have to explain that successful visibility and top quality SEO begins with the site design. And yes, my team and I do the work to redesign their websites, and we do an amazing job. But it doesn’t need to happen this way. I don’t want people’s money to design websites. I don’t want to get paid for my design skill. I am an SEO expert, and love the joy I get when my clients get new customers from my work. It’s why I do this job.
So let’s start now, and cut to the chase. Before you begin to redesign or design your website with a web designer or developer, at a minimum, what are 10 major elements that you want your new site to contain?
- A beautifully-designed Home Page, which right away demonstrates the high quality of you and what you offer. The Home page should flow and be rich in visual content (images, text, icons, and some animation (movement/interaction) that may surprise or stimulate the viewer’s eye. Even some video would be nice. But no poorly filmed video. A welcome paragraph, a general listing of services—these sorts of things are easy to create and are critical for growing your visibility.
- A Website Footer (bottom of the page) that contains “quick-links” to the site pages, lists your business location, phone number, company email, and provides a contact form (which can also be on the home page in other places or other pages). Putting information in the footer means the visitor will have it on any page that they visit, and can quickly click to contact you.
- A Blog Page, where you occasionally (more is better, not less) provide articles, news, or blogs with informative, clear, and concise written content that reflect your expertise and interest in the major core services or products you offer.
- A “Client Reviews” or “Testimonials” page. Don’t just scatter these throughout your site, have a sense of order to them so prospective customers or clients can see them in one place and decide whether they want to take the advice of your past clients or customers.
- A well-written, informative Services page (or pages) with paragraphs concisely describing each of the services you provide or products you are offering. If you can offer niche related “keywords” which reflect what you know search engine users describe in their searches, all the better, but not vital. We help with this kind of thing.
- Photos specifically related to your niche or industry, and the services or products you offer. Make sure the photos look right to you; that they aren’t pixelated, weird colors, and that they load properly when the pages load or you scroll down your pages.
- A Contact Page with form, detail, and local map so they can find you (and Google can get you positioned in it’s mapping algorithms)
- Social media buttons (assuming you have decent enough social media pages—if not, don’t send people to them!). Don’t send visitors to a Facebook page where you are railing on about your political views, an Instagram page with no images, or a broken link to a LinkedIn page that was never actually built.
- A dedicated “Thank You” Page. Have your designer create a page that when the user submits a form or an inquiry, a new page comes up which thanks them and tells them their inquiry has been submitted. Make sure it includes your business details, name, address, phone number, contact email, and other pertinent detail. Search engines LOVE dedicated thank you pages—it gives the viewer something extra, in a sense.
What this means is we are seeking a middle ground, not minimalist, and not cluttered. We want to present ourselves in a professional, refined, and elegant way. The colors, fonts, styling, all should be consistent. Photos shouldn’t be pixelated or look stretched or wonky. And descriptions or text should be informative, concise, and well written. Feel free to contact us for more detail on our services. We are here to help, and to answer the question that isn’t asked, we will always include critical web design work in our SEO agreements. We always preach, though, that you want your web designer to know what they are doing, and you can ask them a single most important question. “What about the design you are proposing to do takes into account SEO principles? If they can’t answer—run for the hills! And give us a ring.