There is a reason why certain sites pop up first in search engine results. It isn’t because certain sites paid for first place or second place. When it comes to search engine results, there is a system, an algorithm that web designers must be aware of. There are rules for SEO that tie into the site’s design, the content, and visitor’s experience to the site.

1. Title Tag

The title of the website is important because it lets Google know what the website is about. It’s the first thing users see in the search engine results page (SERPs).

The size of the site’s title page doesn’t affect the site’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) but, it does have an impact on User Experience (UX). For example, capitalizing every letter in the title may not be appealing to one’s eye.

Keep the title simple, no more than 60 characters. Google only displays the first 60 characters of a title. Make sure the important keywords are put first, so users know what the website is about.

2. UX

Google wants to provide the best search results. It doesn’t just rely on the title and heading tags or the site’s content. It also relies on user’s experience (UX). UX is tracked based on two systems: the bounce rate and the time on site.

The bounce rate is measured from the minute a visitor clicks on the site from the SERP to how quickly they clicked the back button after seeing the site’s content. The time on site is based off how long a user stays on the site. The longer a user stays, the better and more likely it will appear in the first couple of pages in the SERP.

Another way to create a positive UX is to write clear meta-descriptions that incorporate keywords. This gives searchers an idea of what the site or page is about and will help them know before clicking if the page is what they were looking for.

The site’s design and content play a large deal in UX. Content should be informative and regularly updated as well. Sites that aren’t regularly updated affect their SEO ranking as well.

3. The website’s design

Google now has an algorithm that seeks mobile-friendly sites since smartphones are becoming more prevalent in society. Sites that don’t have mobile usability are more likely to wind up in the back pages of search engine results.

A clear-cut web URL is important. A URL that has the name of the topic a visitor is searching for will show up before one that just has a bunch of numbers and letters that have no meaning.

Minimize images. Using large images slow down the site, which could turn away visitors. If UX isn’t positive, that could affect its search engine’s ranking.

Avoid using flash. Make the site easy to navigate for visitors but also for search engine crawlers. If the crawlers can’t crawl through the site, then it could also impact its search engine ranking.

When designing a website keep the searchers in mind and keep the search engines in mind. Search engines such as Google are working to make sure visitors are getting what they search for.

How Website Design Impacts Your Search Ranking

by Stephen Gagnon

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