Search engine optimization (SEO) isn’t a marketing buzz phrase. It’s the strategy required to connect your brand’s online presence with your intended audience, and it drives your site’s design choices as well as its content development.
There is no off-the-shelf solution to SEO; your strategy must adapt to your industry, market segments, and brand. Here’s what you need to know to put search engine optimization into context.
The big-picture approach to SEO
All the elements of effective website design appeal to user experience (UX), user interface (UI), and search engine rankings metrics—the latter of which determines where your site appears on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Google’s goal is serving its users with the most useful, user-friendly content. Your goal is convincing Google that your site delivers while keeping that promise to your visitors.
It’s not enough to achieve high rankings if you’re attracting the wrong traffic. Google also takes into account how much time your visitors spend on your page (“dwell time”) and how often other sites link to your content as a source. Keywords and content must speak directly to your intended audience, and website design should be intuitive for your visitors.
How site architecture affects SEO
The website interface is dictated by server quality, aesthetics, and interactive design. Start-up businesses often begin in-house with template-based websites on shared hosting services, or with all-inclusive plug-and-play platforms. Very quickly they find themselves limited by server performance, content management, and potential for custom coding.
Fast loading times
Attention spans are short, especially among younger audiences who demand efficiency, quality, and integrity from their information sources. Sites that take too long to load have higher bounce rates and lower dwell times. Google takes into account load speeds, and so should you if you want to keep your visitors engaged. Servers, site design, media management practices all contribute to site speed.
All websites should translate seamlessly to whichever mobile device or platform the visitor is using. There is no excuse for a potential customer to have to scroll left to right to view the content on your sight (akin to a “keyhole” view) or click a “mobile version” link. Responsive content allows the user to scroll vertically, clearly read the text, and view scaled-down graphics and images with ease. Navigation menus also adapt to smaller formats on responsive websites. Truly “responsive” site designs communicate their status to Google crawlers, increasing their ranking potential.
Searches from mobile devices have surpassed those made on desktop and laptop computers, and the gap will continue to increase.
Ease of navigation
Visitors want to find the information they’re seeking without having to jump through hoops. Simplified navigation menus, clear page titles, and accurate, non-sensationalized blog headlines help shape your credibility with your visitors.
The content contained in site title tags, URLs, and image metadata reinforces your site’s claim to its target keywords while making it easier for crawlers to interpret and categorize your website content. Less-experienced SEO managers often overlook these crucial steps.
Why quality content is important for SEO success
“Isn’t content just the medium for adding keywords?” It’s a common question and one that perfectly underlines the problems associated with internet SEO “gurus” targeting non-professional webmasters. Our philosophy is this: What’s the point of using the right keywords if your content doesn’t build relationships with your audience?
Good content, which may be written copy, infographics, video, or images, achieves the following:
- Validates your claim to keywords by educating visitors on keyword-relevant topics
- Engages your audience, increasing dwell-time and return visits
- Establishes you as an industry authority, encouraging SEO-boosting backlinks and name mentions
- Pulls your prospects through the buying cycle, cementing brand trust along the journey
- Encourages visitors to fill out contact forms and newsletter forms in exchange for even more useful information
- Educates your audience, empowering them to feel confident when they’re ready to convert
Effective, engaging content, especially when it’s organized in topic-oriented clusters, appeals to both users and search engine algorithms. Create content for the user—not rankings—in mind, and you’ll achieve both goals with optimal success.
An outside-the-box agency doesn’t use off-the-shelf solutions
Search engine optimization success requires top-to-bottom best practice implementation. There’s no single plug-in, tutorial, or template to fix existing problems, nor is there a one-size-fits-all manual for launching a new, perfectly-optimized website. But there is a way to get on the right track. Get a free SEO audit from Avintiv, and learn how you can increase your digital marketing ROI through targeted lead generation, sleek and efficient site design, and conversion-focused content.