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How Your Website’s Design Affects Your Website’s Search Ranking

Search engines, such as Google and Bing, use a variety of factors in their algorithms to determine where to rank your web pages within the search engine results pages. A couple of those factors I’ve talked about before are how relevant your web pages are to the keywords searched, and how many inbound links you have pointed to your website from other relevant web pages online.

But there are other factors the search engines consider as well – namely, how popular your website is (how many visitors you receive), and how long they stay on your website. If you get very little traffic to your site, or if your visitors leave your site quickly once they do visit, this will impact how relevant the search engines consider you for the keyword terms you wish to rank for. (And sites considered less relevant are positioned lower in the search engine results pages).

So the design of your website – the look and feel, the way the pages are laid out, how easy it is for your site visitors to find what they are looking for – all of this has always been important in determining whether your visitors take the action you want them to take when they visit your site.

Once someone comes to your website, you have about 8 seconds to convince them they are in the right spot – if you don’t, they’ll likely be gone in search of a site that more closely matches what they are looking for. And this increases what’s known as your “bounce rate” – which affects how relevant the search engines perceive you to be.

With the launch of “Instant Preview”, Google has upped the ante in terms of the value of quality web design in terms of where your site will rank. With Instant Preview, a magnifying glass appears next to each result on the search engine results page that allows the searcher the ability to preview your web page without even visiting your website.

And this is where the importance of a well-designed website is critical: when viewing your web pages in a thumbnail preview, a site that is designed to be clean, uncluttered, simple and easy to navigate will win out over a poorly designed site every time.

This means that a poorly designed site will likely receive far fewer clicks; as a result, the search engines will find you less relevant and penalize you by lowering your ranking. And more importantly, the lowered amount of traffic to your website will result in missed opportunities for new sales to your potential clients.

A well-designed website has always been important; in the age of Instant Previews, it’s imperative to your success online.

Caroline Melberg
Online Marketing, Search Engine Optimization & Social Media Strategist

Published on: March 1, 2011