There are many aspects of web development that can be utilized to build a site with the information, tools, and aesthetics appropriate to your brand. Most websites use design elements that have become standards like dropdown menus, landing pages, contact forms, and other common features recognizable to users. Conforming to expected web design elements will make your website easier to use and can improve your search engine optimization (SEO) results.
Busy company leaders often choose to hire the services of a marketing firm for development of their websites. MLT Group provides complete services for web development in St. Paul, MN and across the country, including SEO, graphic design, social media marketing, digital marketing, video production, and more. Our experts can build your website to follow digital standards and emerging trends while ensuring your site is attractive to search engines and users alike.
Quality User Experience
In addition to supporting your brand’s online presence and providing the type of information that will answer user inquiries relevant to your company, a quality user experience (UX) should be a top priority in all your web development processes. The initial step to achieving a good UX for your site is a fast load time. Many users will click away from sites that load slower than two seconds. You may have had successful SEO that brought your page to the top of a search engine results page (SERP), but if a user clicks on your site and it loads slowly, you’re likely to lose that interaction.
Ranking Highly in Search Engines
If you build your website to offer a user experience that makes information easy to find and your company easy to do business with, you will have made a great start. Additionally, developing effective SEO that gets your site ranking highly in search engines is key to bringing in targeted traffic. Site features that catch that attention of users and keep them interested while on your site can be useful as well. However, don’t overdue these as clean and simple is still highly desirable in most site designs and some fancy features like pop-ups and interstitials can be detrimental to user experience and search engine rankings.
Overlays are dialog boxes, images, videos, or other types of content that show up directly on a browser window. A common example of an effective overlay is a request for users to sign up for a newsletter or enter an email for a first purchase coupon. Most retail sites, news resources, and blogs will use overlays to prompt users to sign up to receive emails from the company’s newsletter or advertisement system. These often are not penalized by Google or other search engines, but if they compromise the UX, they can damage SEO. Many web developers will pay close attention to how overlays affect the UX on mobile devices due to the smaller screen space. If you use overlays, make sure they are easy to close, show up within a few seconds of your page loading, and don’t show up repeatedly once the user has closed the box.
Thanks to spammy pop-up ads that were common with the early internet days, Google and other search engines do not award sites that use any pop-ups. If you have pop-ups, not only is it likely that users will have browser prevention that automatically blocks pop-ups, Google will punish sites with pop-ups by lowering their SERP ranking. Pop-ups are different from overlays because they show up when a new window is opened rather than over a page. Pulling up a new window in addition to the page clicked will alert Google to potential spam and security risks. Generally speaking, we don’t recommend the use of pop-ups.
Modals are similar to overlays, but they require action in the dialog box before users can interact with the page underneath. Common modals include sign-in requests, requirements to enter birthdates to continue, requests to verify users are over 21, requests to accept or deny cookies, CAPTCHAs, and other legal or paywall specific content. If modals appear right after the page loads, aren’t repeated once the user has provided the requested action, and are easy to understand, interact with, and close, Google will not penalize the use of that kind of media content. You can run into problems when using modals for advertisements or if the visual content is spam-like. If you have to use a modal, make sure it is not taking away from the UX or slowing down the load time of your site.
Some sites, like Forbes.com, for example, use interstitials. Forbes uses them to show advertisements for their sponsors on their landing page. Interstitials are essentially timed overlays that cover part of the screen for a few seconds when you enter a site. These interstitials, or “interstitial experiences,” will stop you from interacting with a page or cover a large part of the screen as you scroll down. Even though they only last seconds, they can significantly damage the UX, and most search engines do not favor websites that use interstitials. Large brands like Forbes can get away with using interstitial advertisements on their landing pages, but most sites will see a decrease in SEO when they use interstitial elements. However, interstitials can be used effectively in very limited applications. They may be useful in making a user stop and acknowledge something before interacting with your site or to add some fun elements to your site’s entryway (such as this “Species in Pieces” interactive exhibition site). If you plan to use an interstitial, it may be beneficial to offer users the option to skip the experience.
Improve the UX of Your Site
For each of these elements, there is a lot to consider when taking into account how they will impact your SEO. Primarily, if you can utilize these elements to improve the UX, you can deter the negative impact they might have on your SERP ranking. If your website loads quickly and meets the needs of user queries while incorporating any of these types of media, Google and other search engines will be less likely to penalize your site. Tracking bounce rates, conversions, and other evidence of positive or negative user reactions will help you analyze how these elements are affecting the UX of your site. Have a backup plan if you have to remove these elements due to poor user interaction results.
The timing of these elements is also important. Generally, these elements should appear right when your site loads and only for short periods of time (or as long as users want to engage). Some exceptions to this rule could include an overlay that appears after a user reads a page or adds a product to their cart. Installing these elements into your site should also not pose damage to the user experience. If users can’t click past an element, if an element appears untrustworthy, if it slows down your site’s load time, or if it jumbles the primary design and informativeness of your main site, you probably want to avoid incorporating these types of media. Keep in mind that even if you install these elements and they don’t result in a bad UX, Google and other search engine algorithms might penalize your SEO results.
To learn more about web development in St. Paul, MN and how different elements of design can impact your SEO, or to get started with our team of skilled content creators and marketing experts, contact MLT Group at (507) 281-3490 or firstname.lastname@example.org today.