When we talk about SEO (Search Engine Optimization), the mantra often seems to be, “Content is King”. While you may agree with this statement, you cannot forget the importance of the other factors that contribute to increasing traffic to your website. After all, that is what you are trying to achieve with SEO.
Good content, high quality content, will keep visitors on your site. It will increase the likelihood that these visitors will return to your site. These are good things, and Google awards you for these interactions between your website and visitors.
Here is the process simplified…
A user searches something on Google.
Google displays the results to the user that Google thinks are closest to what the user is searching for.
The user clicks on your website. They are now a visitor.
Now here is the part that is important. If the visitor stays on your site for awhile, Google can make a determination that the results they gave to your new visitor were correct, and with that your website was worthy of being on the search engine results page (SERP).
Contrarily, if your new visitor didn’t like what they saw on your website and immediately hit the back button in their browser, Google may determine that your website didn’t belong in the search engine results page in the first place. In fact, Google may decide to move your website down the results page next time the same search is made.
To Google, these are called, ‘user signals’, and they are a small part of what goes into deciding where your website belongs on SERPs. When a user hits the back button and tries a different site on the results page, this is calculated as a ‘SERP return rate.’
Having high quality content can help keep your visitors from hitting the back button. What is high quality content? Well, hopefully it’s what your new visitor wants to read or see. It should be relevant to what they were searching for. If your website is providing a visitor with content they want to see, and thus keeping them on your site clicking away, your website has quality content.
Following that logic we turn to the design and user experience (UX) of your website. If your website provides a good user experience, most likely your visitors will enjoy staying on your website. This is why good design matters for SEO.
If a user visits your site from search and doesn’t have a good experience they’ll not only leave, but they are less likely to return. This is not the kind of ‘user signal’ you want to send to Google about your website.
Good design has the user experience in mind, it’s built into it.
Ask yourself, if you visit a website from search that looks outdated and boring, and is difficult to navigate, do you remain on that site? Or do you hit the back button and try again? Most users don’t have the patience to work with a clunky site that doesn’t function with the user in mind.
No matter how good the content may be, if the user can’t get the info they are looking for in a simple, intuitive and perhaps fun way, they’ll leave. They’ll go somewhere else to find what they are looking for.
With good design, good content is more easy to engage with. Good design helps to communicate that content in a visual way.
A poor design, can make your site appear outdated, less fun, or possibly even less trustworthy. All these things can lead to a quick hit of the back button, which can negatively effect your reputation to Google.
A poor design and user experience can actually hurt your SEO.
So, if you are thinking about SEO, remember that design matters. Remember that the user experience is important. If your ‘content is king,’ your design should be the crown that promotes and identifies it.