User experience is an important search engine ranking factor. Design of your site and how users interact with the same can directly affect search engine rankings in the search results.
In this post, we will highlight a few web design practices that may impact a site’s SEO performance. The article helps you guide what you can improve at each step of the way.
The navigation structure of the website
Your site’s navigation affects metrics like the average page on time, bounce rate, and conversion rates. The investment that you put into these resources helps you succeed. These factors play a role in improving search engine rankings but also help with higher revenues and profits. Let’s say you have a personal finance blog. The most logical structure demands a navigation area that supports these menu items: a section for credit cards, another for loans or mortgages, information on student loans, personal finance tips and tricks.
If users can’t find information on your site, you lose them and end up leaving money on the table.
Here are some tips:
- Keep the main menu simple. Limit items on it to put away confusion.
- Avoid complex and technical jargon in the main menu. Instead switch to familiar terms.
- The main menu should be easily accessible on all web pages. Make it stick on the top of the web page.
- Keep the menu accessible on smaller mobile devices as well.
- Add a search bar to help users find web pages
- Make sure the URLs for each page is clear and concise.
- Aside from URLs it’s important to use descriptive anchors for internal links
A well-designed navigation menu that supports a site’s SEO strategy needs balancing. You need to etch away some of your creative vision to create UX-friendly design.
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Optimize the ‘404’ page
A user might move away from your site as soon as he sees a 404 page. The 404 error pops up when there’s a dead end because of a broken link or from a page that isn’t there anymore. Most 404 pages all share the same look. To optimize a 404 page you can use all kind of brushes in 12 categories from BrushGalaxy and design visuals to help you with this.
As you can see, this web page does nothing to hold users on the website.
With some creativity, however, you can turn the tide in your favor and turn it into a user-friendly pages. Here are some tricks to make 404 pages work for your and your site’s strategy.
- Don’t attempt generic designs. Be creative and design 404 pages that are attention-grabbing.
- Communicate with the user that they followed a page that doesn’t exist anymore
- Add a search bar to your 404 pages to enable people to visit more specific content.
- List the most important web pages on the 404 page like your contact us page, or book a meeting page.
Your website shouldn’t have dead links, but 404 pages inevitably create themselves. A website user may trigger the page by typing a wrong URL by mistake.
Therefore prepare for it by creating a unique and helpful page on your site, increasing their on-page time, and reduce the bounce rate.
The loading speed of a website
How quickly a website loads is another important search factor. The way your website is designed and used can have a big role in determining the page load times. You can use free tools to check the load times. Your website shouldn’t take more than a second to load.
Use these tips to minify the speed:
- Minify CSS and JS files
- Use compressed images
- Use a CDN
- Minimize HTTP requests
- Minimize the use of redirects
- Use Wordpress data tables instead of heavy graphics
- Use caching solutions
- Upgrade the web host
Optimizing page speed
Page speed refers to how quickly content loads when someone visits a page on your site. Page speed represents the loading time of a specific web page.
There are a few things that influence page speed. Some of the most important factors include:
- The number of images, videos, or other files on the page
- Themes and plugins installed on the site
- The site’s coding and server side scripts
These elements play an important role in affecting page loading speed and this in turn affects your site’s UX. Visitors without fail dislike slow-loading pages and more likely to turn away from them.
Why is page speed important?
When it comes to page loading speed, every second is important. Google’s research shows that when loading times increase from 1 to 3 seconds bounce rate increases by 32%.
If a page takes five seconds to load the probability of the bounce rises to 90%.
If your pages don’t load in seconds its likely people will leave your site. If web pages load sluggishly that hurts your ability to drive engagement and conversions. Page speed plays a big role in search engine optimization. Google takes a variety of factors into consideration when ranking web pages. Speed is an important ranking factor both for desktop and mobile searches.
Speed matters because it can play a big role in deciding how consumers perceive your brand. If your web pages take too long to load or if something goes wrong, it can make you appear unprofessional and your site less than reliable.
If you want an effective website, focus on optimizing page speed. The first step to do that is to figure out how your pages currently perform.
How to Measure Page Speed
Before making changes to your site to optimize a web page’s performance its critical to both test and measure page speed. There are solutions like Gtmetrix and Pingdom that can help you with this. Google Page Speed Insights is another tool that can help you measure and test the speed of your web pages on both desktops and mobile devices. It can also make sure that it hits your performance benchmarks. Now that you know the importance of optimizing your pages for loading time you should go ahead and make those changes.
Images, image size, and alt text
All websites use images. Relevant and interesting images increase average on-page time and engagement rate on the site. However plenty of images can slow the loading time of a site. What if the images don’t load at all. What are the users going to see then?
Here are a few tips to follow when using images:
- Add relevant keywords to the image titles
- Make sure to add descriptive and keyword rich alt texts to each image
- Search engines can’t understand images so they use alt text to both understand and index images properly
- Use compressed images to reduce server load and increase site’s loading speeds.
Choose a performance-optimized hosting solution
The hosting solution you use plays a big role in website management and its performance. This increases page speed. One of the worst mistakes you can make is settling for mediocre hosting in order to get a lower monthly rate. In the long term cheap hosting only means one thing- poor performance. It means resources that should be going to your site and thinly sliced up between hundreds of sites straining page load times and other factors.
There are performance focused hosting solutions you can work with that provide you with a powerful platform. This provides don’t offer shared hosting meaning you never have to worry about other websites draining your pool of resources.
You should also compress and optimize your images
Images help enhance your web pages and increase the quality of your content. Large images however increase your page load times.
Therefore one simple way to increase page load speeds is by compressing and optimizing your images. This includes changing file formats, enable lazy loading and optimizing your images. This enables lazy loading and compressing images through either lossy or lossless compression. By reducing image’s file sizes you can reduce its weight helping your pages load quickly. There are a variety of image optimization plugins you can use to make this possible.
Once you activate these plugins you don’t have to lift a finger as they automatically resize and compress your images without impacting their quality. It has lossless compression, lazy loading and other optimization features. TinyPNG is what I use though there are several other plugins you can always use.
What do you think of the tips I listed to optimize design for SEO.