We have all seen them. The worst looking websites ranking in the top organic positions in Google and the other major search engines. Sadly, these are often SEO websites (ranking high is important to getting hired). And… you have also likely seen sites built entirely with Flash. These are often real estate sites (they are selling dream homes). Beautiful, no doubt – but not search engine friendly. You won’t find these sites in the top 100 positions in natural keyword-driven search results.
This is the story of Beauty and the Beast.
You need to be more than just a pretty face on the web. Content (keywords) drive search engines. Search is a powerful tool to help you get found – and attract prospective clients. A website that cannot easily get crawled and indexed by search engines will hurt your rankings in search results. And… people search. They are actively looking for your products and/or services. When you don’t exist in a search engine results page (SERP), you can bet that your competition will be found.
And… ranking high because your site has been built only for search engines (no Flash, no photos and lots of optimized content), will get you noticed. But you need more than that. Research has shown that web visitors give your site up to seven seconds before they decide to explore further – or move on. Ugly sites often lack credibility, and get high bounce rates. So do sites that are not user friendly (just check the exit rate for your home page and your other entry pages).
Bottom line: The approach to web design should not be to build for web visitors only (beauty). Nor should it be to build for just search engines (beast).
The ideal website is, first and foremost, always built for web visitors as they are your target audience (they buy, join, sign up – for example). Within this framework, you also build for search whereby the technology used (or not used like Flash) and layout is designed so that your site is search engine friendly. And… the content, of course, is optimized based on how people search for you. After all, it is engines that send you these qualified visitors.
Is your website like Beauty or the Beast? Or is it a winning combination of Beauty and the Beast?