SEO-friendly web design is absolutely crucial – and this article will walk you step by step through the 5 most important parts of making a site that Google loves. Not necessarily on the web-development side, because in that case – there are significantly more steps. But on the actual visual layout of the site, what elements can you include or not include that will make a site more likely to be respected by Google?
You might think I’m talking about ‘keyword stuffing’ but besides one or two places, that’s not what this is referring to.
Actually, the SEO-friendly elements I’m suggesting you include are actually extremely good for usability. And particularly in this first items case, the whole reason we want to include it – is because it’s presence generally keeps people on the site longer – sending good ‘user experience‘ signals back to Google – and ‘time on site’ is huge for getting higher rankings.
1. Space for content
500-700+ words even on the home page, and service pages
Why include so much content? Especially in a world that prizes ‘apple-esque’ simplicity and white space so much? For two reasons:
- Google eats that shit up. Google looooooves tons of content, and the more content you have, the more it can be sure of the types of services you provide, and the topics that it should serve you up to users for.
- People read. Perhaps more than you think – if they can’t find the answer on the page, they’ll go elsewhere. If you have a ‘pick-ax company’ and you don’t give clear examples of why they’d need a pick-ax, if you don’t answer the questions they have about pick axes, if you don’t give them the history of the pick-ax – who knows, that might be a reason to go to Wikipedia. Ideally, this site is the Wikipedia for that subject. Don’t leave it to other people to educate your customer, and get the benefit of all those ‘user signals’ on their site. We want to own the subject – comprehensively. And it’s insanely good for SEO.
2. Headings that double as keyword rich titles.
Not just super quirky marketing headlines that don’t have the service in them.
There are ways to inspire people to take action AND get your keyword into the headline. The best headlines do both, but you can also style the H1 smaller than the real headline you want to stick out ( a little code trickery) if you can’t accomplish this naturally.
Here are a couple of examples of persuasive headlines that also bring in the keyword phrase:
- ‘Get a free consultation now from the most customer service driven roofer in Minneapolis‘
- ‘Imagine yourself partying at the #1 sports bar for watching football in Dallas.’
- ‘Proud to be your choice for the most romantic bed & breakfast in Duluth’
3. Space to link in the footer.
Interlinking is massive in keeping ‘crawl budget’ efficient, and increasing the authority of the linked pages.
- Choose the absolute most important pages for navigation and user experience.
- Then choose a list of resources that would be useful to the user… and that you want to rank higher.
This inter-linking makes it more likely these pages will show higher in search results.
4. Inter-linking systems and navigation
Not only is this good for user experience, but this inter-linking / “content-silo-ing” also creates subject matter association that’s good for rankings.
When a cluster of pages has it’s own navigation, and is all on a concentrated subject matter – you start to have what is called a content ‘silo.’ For strict SEO purposes, the pages are supposed to only be linked to from a central hub, and not elsewhere on the site – to concentrate the topic authority and allow for that one central hub page to rank for the broader topic.
But side menu’s and other types of sub-menus are amazing for this general concept to drive topical relevance in a particular part of the site, and to create an SEO benefit and a user experience benefit.
5. Super intentional blog pages, and editorial features to increase time on site
Make the blog easy to read with typography, create a bigger first paragraph, and lead with an image. Making the content inviting and curating the easy reading vibe, will help you get people addicted to reading content on your site – and decrease ‘bounce rate.’
Here’s the little checklist for a more editorial, SEO friendly, and bounce rate decreasing blog section to your site:
- Aesthetic blog listing, with some more ‘, featured’ articles that are called out visually.
- The ability to sort by, or go directly to categories within the blog.
- A big eye-catching image / a place for that in the design on single blog posts.
- A larger opening paragraph to allow a reader to get sucked into the content.
- A biography area at the top of the article so people can see who’s expertise their about to absorb.
- Related blog posts at the end of the article.
- Ideally, some kind of internal / category related call-to-action to a resource / opt-in / or download that you’re also trying to rank.
- Comments sections where appropriate (the comments themselves can help you rank- and are a small form of ‘user-generated content.’)
If you take one thing away from this…
Take away that content areas are extremely important.
Whether it’s Q&A sections, or just areas for big sections of text to be paired with alternating images – should run into the 500-1000 word range, and will allow the site you’re creating to be seen by a lot more people.
So SEO-friendly website design is a means to get more folks looking at your work! Go get em’!