Good design is definitely a great way to optimize a website for search engine traffic. Here are seven web design tips that will help you to attract more traffic to your website. All revolve around decreasing page load times while increasing visitor engagement.
Replace Images with Background Gradients or Text
There was a time when background images were all the rage. Sure they looked good, but the images were large, chewed up bandwidth, and increased webpage load times. In many instances, background images can be replaced with CSS3 gradients. They’re attractive and lightweight, so you get the best of both worlds.
If you’re displaying the site title with an image, you should consider replacing it with text. Images increase page loading time and can also hide SEO information from search engines. Unlike humans, search engines don’t read images.
Employ Fonts for Increased Readability
The judicious use of fonts greatly affects both the usability of a website and the load time of web pages. Fonts need to be loaded in order to be rendered on a page. Incorporating too many of them will slow down the speed of a site since the page needs to load each font.
A couple of fonts, working together to create unity and variety makes a website much easier to read. All things being equal, visitors spend more time perusing pages like these, and greater on-page time translates into better search engine rankings. Google has a selection of web fonts that can be used for free. Many of them feature selected pairings.
Use White Space Effectively
The effective use of white space also translates into an increase in on-page time by making the page easier to read. In this case, it’s more about what you don’t include than what you do. Cluttered pages often have too many images, which not only increase page load time, but distract readers from the content. White space, on the other hand, is design-efficient and fast-loading. High-end brands are masters at using white space to create an air of sophistication and added value.
Provide Clear Navigation
On-page time is an important criterion in search engine ranking, so anything that keeps a visitor onsite will help. In fact, clear and consistent navigation can make or break a website. Information should be accessible from all parts of the site; avoid burying information too deep within the website. Visitors scan the top of a site when they first arrive, so place the most important navigational links where they will see them. Don’t forget the footer; it’s valuable real estate that can also be used for important links.
Implement Responsive Web Design
More people are accessing the internet using mobile devices, with many studies predicting mobile internet access will soon outstrip that of desktops. Users conducting a search on their mobile device expect to see mobile-optimized pages in their results. Therefore, search engines are awarding higher rankings to sites that implement responsive web design. Implementing responsive design is no easy feat, but those that ignore it risk losing search engine rankings and traffic.
Integrate Social Media
Making website content easy to share via social media increases traffic and reduces reliance on search engines. In fact, an increasing number of people are first starting their search using social media instead of search engines. The easier it is to share, the more likely they will share it, bringing more exposure to the website. Content should have Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn buttons imbedded where appropriate.
Stephen Jeske is a former partner in a 49-year-old family business and often writes about issues affecting small business owners.