How does the look of my site effect my performance on search engines? The layout, design, and style of your website will have a drastic effect on your visitor’s perception of you. You may run the most efficient and amazing business in existence, but if your visitors can’t perceive value when viewing your site then you have none.
These days style is even more important to users than content, at least until they read the content. Think about when you are surfing the web. When you click on a result after your search do you stick around on the page if the website looks unprofessional or home made? Most people don’t.
That’s not to say the look of a site is more important to a search engine than content, as a search engine doesn’t have the ability to “see” what your site actually looks like; but if your site doesn’t look good and people start hitting the back button before bothering to read your content, then you need to do something!
Perception is everything
It all comes down to the people visiting your site and how they perceive your site within the first 3 – 5 seconds. When a user clicks the back button on their browser before ever clicking on any links inside your site it is considered what the search engines call a “bounce”. When someone bounces from your site it reflects negatively on your search engine ranking.
If you’ve ever seen the movie The School of Rock then you’ll understand why this trailer is an excellent take on human perception and it’s effect on a person’s interaction with a product or service after their initial judgement. If you haven’t seen the movie, then this looks like some sort of suspense thriller movie about a deranged teacher, when it is actually a comedy.
Ultimately, the key to keeping someone on your site long enough to utilize it is to make it look interesting to your target audience. And keeping people on your site as long as possible while still enabling them to find information quickly and efficiently is a major factor in how you are ranked on a search engine.
Evaluating the look of your site
There are a number of factors to take into account as you evaluate your site’s aesthetic effect. For one, a lot of small businesses use random background colors in an attempt to look different. What you need to realize is people don’t like different. Users need things to be familiar and easy to understand. Obviously you need to make your website unique, but you don’t have to make your background color something other than white to do it. Take the site you’re on for example. We use images and lines to break up elements of the page and give the look of the site a little extra “umph”.
Keeping your pages visually active is also an excellent tool. It is good practice to include slideshows, banners, and things of that nature to keep the user involved with viewing the page. You can even consider the layout of the page as providing movement. When you break content down into multiple columns you allow the user to have more than one thing to look at while being in the same place on the site.
Include media on your pages such as images, music, & video. Sometimes you can cheat a little bit and include irrelevant media. For example, I could include an image of some random young woman smiling while looking at a laptop screen. Oh wait, I did… This picture to the left has nothing to do with websites or the effect of styling on their search engine ranking. None-the-less, this image works very well with this article as it allows the end user (you) to use their imagination. You probably didn’t focus heavily on the image until reading this paragraph, but it gives users something to look at subconsciously while they read the article.