4 ways to make sure your beautifully designed site is also optimized for Google
No site ranks in Google just because it is beautiful. Search engines reflect users’ preferences, so you need to make your target users love you. How do you do that? You make sure your pages solve users’ problems.
What do users care about besides a beautiful site? Relevance, navigation, trust, and accessibility are the big four factors for many.
Your site needs to be obviously relevant to searchers’ needs. You need to use the same keywords on your pages as use in their search queries.
The easiest way to check your keyword relevance is to install the free Yoast SEO plugin.
Screenshot source – Need to be logged in as Admin
Yoast encourages you to add keywords to your writing and comments on the way you use them. The free version allows one keyword per post,but the premium version allows more.
Your site users are impatient. They need to find what they need quickly, and if the page recommended by Google is not directly relevant, you might still persuade users to stay on your site and look a little deeper, but your navigation must be evident and straightforward to use for this to happen. Related post links are good, but avoid automated related posts plugins because they slow down your site too much. You know your content and can quickly add prominent links manually in the body of a post.
Use Category names that are meaningful and descriptive, to make it more likely users will click on them. Consider using a plugin such as ShiftNav to give mobile users better menus than the standard WordPress ones.
Google’s confidence in you parallels the trust people have in you. This is because the search engine company wants its ranking algorithm to imitate humans, to treat every page in its index the same way a human user does.
If people think your site is not worth two seconds of their time, then that sends a signal to Google to downgrade your site’s ranking. If human users are hopping from page to page on your site, your bounce rate goes down, and Google upgrades your ranking because your site is so useful.
Site loading speed is important because if it is too slow, some users will give up and go elsewhere.
Improve your loading time in five ways:
- Cautious use of plugins – Every plugin slows down your site.
- Good webhosting – Cheap hosts have poor connections and slow servers that are overcrowded. Check third party reviews of WordPress hosting to get the big picture
- Use a premium WordPress theme. Free themes are poorly coded and are only for amateurs
- Avoid using large images by default. Use a 200pix image and link to the full-size image
- Use a CDN service. The CDN firm will store most page components on servers around the world, so there are fewer calls to your webhost.
Is your site easy to use? Do you use large navigation buttons, so mobile users find it simple to get around? Is your text large enough to read?
This SmashingHub article covers these and other design features you must familiarize yourself with as you build your site. This business site review gives an excellent list of design features to avoid; including too many menu items, drop-down menus, and other common mistakes.
Almost all sites use a font size smaller than the recommended 16pt. Large text is easier to read and forces you to be economical in your use of words.
Avoid the other standard error of using mid-grey text on a white background because nobody can read it. If your site is beautiful and ‘modern’ looking with its graytext, but it annoys users it will also ‘annoy’ Google; your bounce rate will be high, and Google will take this as a low-quality signal.
Optimize your site for users and Google will love you.