How Does Good Design Help with SEO?

Building a website from scratch or redesigning an existing website requires that different elements work together. Believe it or not, web design plays a crucial role in your SEO plan. Here are three reasons why:

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1) Site Architecture

How your website is laid out is very important. When working together, the SEO strategy is to determine what pages are most important in the hierarchy. It’s design’s job to present that information in an attractive and easy-to-follow manner. If you have certain services or products that you would like to emphasize, web design helps make that section of your website stand out more. With SEO, you can help bring traffic to those desired areas.

2) Call to Action/Conversion

Without a clear call to action, visitors will likely just bounce from your website without looking at any other pages, making contact or anything at all. If there is no clear direction to call, contact, download, join, Like or subscribe, your website is pretty much useless. Good web design doesn’t necessarily directly impact your SEO efforts but it plans an important role in that – conversion. Where SEO gets potential customers to your website, it’s the design’s job to get them to stay and convert.

3) Site Speed

As responsive web design catches on and websites become bigger, better and more robust, their site speed also increases. Site speed is considered to be a top contender in search engine ranking factors. The purpose of effective web design is convey the proper brand message (including a call top action) but keeping a handle on it so that your website will load fast. Imagine that your website is ranking phenomenally and leading visitors to a beautifully designed website. The relationship can stop right there if it takes too long for your website to load. It’s a major no-no and something that both SEO and web design has to keep in mind.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

Top Changes in Web Design in the Past 5 Years

Web design has come a long way from generic templates, scrolling marquee, and a reliance on Flash. When you think about it, web design has changed A LOT, just in the past 5 years. Let’s take a look at some elements that probably weren’t even on the horizon half a decade ago:

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Bigger Screen Size

Do you remember the screen size of your first smart phone? If you thought it was awesome then, look at the options today. Nowadays, the biggest smart phone screen size in the market us upwards of 7 inches! And computer screens are getting bigger too. Take a look at this comparison of monitor sizes from 1999 to 2012. We’ve gone from small to big and are heading towards huge. For web design, this means that there is more crucial space to play with and fill with important, relevant information. The area above the fold is increasing greatly.

Responsive Design

Of course, bigger and different screen sizes calls for responsive design. As this is fast becoming the industry standard, it was unheard of years ago, when it was just the standard to have a desktop and separate mobile version of your website. Responsive sites helps design work with SEO and improve user experience across all mobile devices.

User Testing

Gone are the days where you just put up a design and hope and guess that it will do ok. There are many user testing and heat map programs that can tell you what people think of specific elements of your website. Although these are just opinions of specific people, you can use the feedback to improve your design. Yes, maybe that phone number does need to be bigger and predominantly displayed because people can’t find it. No, maybe people don’t like pop-up contact forms as much as you think they would. Guess work is being taken out of effective web design as we can more accurately diagnose and fix problems.

Completion of Project

Maybe 5 years ago, you would be given a timeline of when your website would be completed and it would be the end. The site would stay like that as-is for maybe another 5 years until any changes were made. Nowadays, we understand that website maintenance is important, whether it’s to have on-going SEO on your site or to update any design elements that are needed to help with conversion. There shouldn’t be a set date on completion of your web design and it should change with your business as it’s needed.

The Future of Web Design

Time will tell what the future will hold for web design but it seems like “clean” and “simple” are making a comeback. As things that are old become new again, it’s exciting to be caught up in the ever changing world of web design.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

3 More Reasons to Implement Responsive Design

Responsive web design should no longer be a foreign, far away concept. It’s something that your business can take advantage of today. While you debate the necessity of a responsive website, here are 3 more reasons to help you make up your mind:

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1) Get a Competitive Edge – Now that Google has removed Authorship pictures from search results, there are on-site factors that you have to work on to get noticed. Implementing a responsive web design is a huge first step in optimizing your website for mobile, laptop and desktop (and everything in between) all at once.

The idea of responsive web design is new enough that all your competitors probably don’t have it. They might still be fumbling with a clunky mobile site that doesn’t load properly on a screen sizes. Having a responsive web site will help your business stand out and stand out among the crowd as being innovative and tech/consumer-savvy.

2) Play by Google’s Rules – Not only does responsive web design get Google’s seal of approval, but they’re willing to go as far as penalizing websites for mobile and faulty redirects. For a while now, Google has been toying with the idea that it will showcase a note to users that they will be directed to a mobile website. This user experience isn’t ideal as you want the search and buy experience to be as seamless as possible. The idea of a separate mobile website is outdated and no longer efficient.

3) Streamline and Make Things Easier – With responsive web design, you’re dealing with one website and a single URL for each page of content. You don’t have to worry about mobile versions of this and duplicate versions of that… users will get ONE version of your site, no matter what device they’re using. Google also prefers responsive design for another reason, it makes their robots work less hard! Yes, even Googlebot has to crawl and index mobile versions of your website.

In the end, responsive web design makes it easier on your webmaster, customers and Google. It’s a win-win-win situation. It’s also a cost-effective solution that will last you years to come. A well-designed and easy-to-maintain responsive website will last your business years to come without feeling outdated quickly. It’s an investment but one that’s sure to be worth it. Call the Emarketed team at (877) 959-5322 for a free consultation on responsive website design.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

In Case You Haven’t Realized… Page Speed Affects Conversions!

Page speed is often overlooked in website development. When a site is completed, it’s difficult to want to go back and see the things you can compress or adjust in order to speed your site up. Ideally, these things are considered during the design process, but sometimes, other factors, such as optimization and design take priority.

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Take a look at how Walmart suffers with a 3 second lag. Take a look at that sharp drop from 1 second to 3+ seconds! Getting customers to your site is the first obstacle and it’s a shame to have them leave quickly or not convert because of your slow page load speed. This is especially true for e-commerce and similar sites where users are ready and willing to complete a transaction versus searching for information in a text-heavy site.

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On the other hand, Firefox improved their average page load time and experienced an increase in downloads by 15.4%, which translates to 10 million additional downloads per year! Now this is an ideal to strive for.

Click here to view the whole infographic and get the whole scoop on the damage a slow website can do.

Rethinking Poor Conversions

On a topical level, the thought of a handful of seconds doesn’t seem too concerning. But it should make you think twice when you see the actual effects of it on conversion. Initially, there are a few things you should check for if you’re suffering a drop in conversions:

– Ease of website usability
– Page layout
– Organized site structure
– Simple contact information and contact forms with fewer fields
– Content that matches headings and titles
– Page speed

Simplifying Web Design and Preparing for Responsive Sites

Google provides Site Speed suggestions at the page level, which can be seen in Analytics. This is a good starting point for cleaning up messy code, compressing large images etc. You can pick and choose from easy fixes to problems that require more time and digging into.

The growing popularity of responsive websites leads to another dilemma. While they are more SEO friendly than having desktop, tablet and mobile versions of your website, the coding is more complex. This can unexpectedly increase a site’s page load time and decrease conversions. This is something to prepare for and with proper planning, you can have a responsive website that’s both fast and SEO friendly. If you have any questions or are looking for more information, don’t forget to view our portfolio here.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

Web Design, SEO and Conversion Conflicts

Web design and SEO are two elements that go hand in hand. When they don’t work in sync, there will definitely be a problem, which can be seen in your conversions. Even though these are two separate departments, it’s important that they work together. This is important to keep in mind whether you’re working with an internet marketing company or doing it in-house:

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What looks “cool” doesn’t always convert – Part of having an impressive website means having something that looks current, usable and identifies with your brand. From a pure design standpoint, it’s a good bet that most designers wish that ranking factors solely had to do with graphics and style. Unfortunately, it does not. Quality content is still king.

This is why you often see “ugly” or old websites that rank well. Website authority and age count for a lot, but so does the content and information it provides. Web design should be built to accommodate your content. Your site’s design can look super sleek and impressive, but users won’t convert if they can’t find what they’re looking for.

Having good content isn’t good enough anymore – The SEO industry preaches quality content but your website will not succeed on writing alone. A good website design helps highlight the best information and attract more targeted customers. Many times, website design can grow into something that is more complicated than it should be. This is difficult when you have a fickle client. Remember to base all decisions on what would help a customer convert, rather than just pure aesthetic reasons or personal opinion. Just another reason to Meet

Meeting in the middle – It can get ugly when design takes an overwhelming grasp on a website. For most small businesses, you can’t purely depend on design for your website’s success. Even though on the surface, it might seem like the case because it’s the first thing people see. Before they read your content or browse your site, the site’s design leaves a lasting first impression.

The next part is where optimization does the job. A properly optimized and structure site ensures that users can browse seamlessly and find what they’re looking for. Both elements have to work together. One is seen as a science and the other as an art. But when you put them together, you get the best user experience and the highest website conversions.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

Web Design Trends: Big, Bold and Unexpected

Design trends are always evolving. What’s old eventually becomes new again and what’s new quickly becomes old and trite. We foresee a trend of big, bold and unexpected elements in web design. Take a look for yourself:

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Unexpected Type and Font

Helvetica? Please… there is much more variety out there. Introducing the idea of monospaced font type, where characters are all the same width. This is in contrast to traditional fonts that are all proportional to each other.

Something mundane as text, font size and color can certainly transform your website. Non-traditional fonts will stand out among standard fonts and give your website a pop of personality. Handwritten, mismatched, matte and flat – the idea is to think outside the box, interesting, playful and yet professional.

Check this out: 20 Quirky Monospaced Fonts For Personal And Commercial Use

A Big Focus Encourages Scrolling and a Main Point of Focus

Gone are the days of 2, 3 or even 4 column design templates. Nothing says “cluttered” and “outdated” like a whole bunch of jumbled boxes on your screen. In a way, responsive design has forced designers to simplify. It has also forced designers to think about 3 different templates with 1 look: desktop, tablet and mobile. This works out to everyone’s advantage because responsive templates often point out one main area of focus.

This way, visitors are more likely to pay attention and scroll for more information. They aren’t confused or looking for more, but reading and focusing on the one point that’s in front of them… much needed in today’s world of technological distractions!

Check this out: Unorthodox Layouts: The Next Big Thing?

Bold Headers

You either hate them or love them but we can’t stress this one enough. Even at the tail end of last year, giant headers were making their way into the design world. A bold header leaves a lasting impression. A well thought out header is impressive because it combines the elements of being aesthetically pleasing, as well as completely functional. With a new, big and bold header, you can really incorporate all of the design trends mentioned above to your website home page.  And it also goes without saying that while bigger is better, you have to keep page speed and load time in mind with these giant headers.

Check us out on Facebook and let us know what you think!

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

Terrible Web Design Advice from Someone Who Doesn’t Know SEO

In today’s world, effective web design doesn’t exist without keeping the search engine friendly factor in mind.

But this doesn’t mean that there won’t be (so-called) experts going around offering the worst advice! Before you run off and update your website structure or design, here are some things you should watch out for… just in case something has been subconsciously implanted in your brain by someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about!

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Terrible Advice #1: Big headers are great and visitors expect them and are used to scrolling. Generic advice like this sounds rational… until you think it through. This is bad advice because it depends on the industry and individual testing. You can’t be sure unless you have done extensive testing. Not to mention that websites are heavy above the fold don’t perform well on site speed tests, which is a known factor for Google’s search rankings

Terrible Advice #2: Don’t tell readers everything they want to hear, make them feel anxious and create open loops. Ermm.. why do you want to make visitors feel hesitant and afraid? As a business owner, you want to give visitors enough information to make them feel comfortable with your products/services. You want to let them know that you’ll be there for them when they’re ready to take the next step and reach out. Don’t withhold important facts or contact info because you want to seem mysterious.

Terrible Advice #3: Focus on pictures, videos and call to action because no one reads the content. Although we live in a world dominated by distraction, it’s a bit far to say that readers don’t read any content. Visitors can definitely tell if your content is badly written and will leave, no matter how pretty your pictures are!

Terrible Advice #4: Take a look at common threads of what your competitors are doing and do the complete opposite, you want to stand out! Competitors who are successful are successful for a reason. In highly competitive fields, it’s not unusual to see similar design, content and templates. For example, in more prestigious fields, it might be the norm to see certifications, associations and awards. Why would you take these off your website just because everyone else is doing it? It doesn’t mean that you have to conform to the standard but rather, analyze the things that are working and see why and make them your own.

There are plenty of so-called internet marketing experts who don’t know anything about coding, design or implementation of on-site best practices. Before you listen to just anyone, make sure that you see their past work, examples of results and ask why you should listen to what they have to say! Call us (323) 340-4010 and we’ll be happy to help.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

Responsive Design Doesn’t Help with Rankings, So Why Bother?

Industry leaders are all pushing towards responsive web design this year. So, it really comes as a surprise that Google would directly comment on the correlation between responsive design as it relates to better rankings.

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Although Google does demote sites that aren’t mobile friendly, it doesn’t mean the opposite if your website is mobile or tablet friendly. Sound a bit unfair? Well, here’s what Google’s John Mueller has to say about responsive design, “we don’t use that as a ranking factor.” See the full discussion here.

Why Bother?

If Google isn’t taking responsive web design into ranking consideration, many people will fail to see the benefits of adapting to it. Even if Google isn’t directly using responsive design as a ranking factor now, it may be a different story in the future. It’s better to get your website prepared now for all the craziness that could come in 2014 and beyond. Wouldn’t you rather be ready than have your competitors benefit from responsive design?

Responsive Design Doesn’t Have to Be Difficult

With custom web design, responsive templates could be painstaking with 4, 5, or even 6+ different versions of your website design. Depending on your time, budget and resources, you can always go with WordPress or other CMS templates that easily integrate responsive design into them theme. Check out responsive WordPress themes here.

It’s Easier for the Developer

Let’s say you’re using a responsive WordPress theme. This means that all your website content and structure looks the same on the back end. There are no template/content issues to deal with like if you had a separate mobile site. Mobile sites that coded completely independent to your desktop site are becoming outdated. With more mobile phone updates and changes, it’s possible that your “old” mobile site no longer displays correctly on mobile or tablet screens. With a responsive design, you don’t have to worry about a separate site, as it’s seamlessly based on the main version of your site.

It’s Easier for Users

It’s can be annoying to go to a website with bare bones mobile site that redirects you to the wrong page or won’t give mobile/tablet users what they’re looking for. What’s even worse are mobile sites that absolutely don’t allow mobile users to visit the desktop version. You want to always give them the option. Nowadays, users expect content-rich desktop sites to be well-translated on a smaller screen. Think of it as a shrink to fit website that still keeps the main function of your desktop site, without all the bulk that mobile/tablet screens can’t handle.

Get Responsive Today

All in all, switching over to a responsive website design will benefit your business more than waiting it out. Have questions about a responsive design or a custom CMS? Call us at (323) 340-4010 or check us out on Google+.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

What’s Causing Your Website to be So Slow?

Is your website slowing to a creeping halt? Is the mobile or tablet version even worse? Unfortunately, there are many causes of a slow website. Fortunately, they may be easily fixed… once you diagnose the problem.

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Your first stop should be Google’s PageSpeed Insights. This is a great tool for web designers, developers and SEOs alike. It’s important just to be familiar of the loading components of your site. Enter your home page and other internal URLS to find out each page-specific problem. Google will give you a score out of 100 for the mobile and desktop version of your website. Some helpful suggestions include leveraging browser caching, enabling compression and optimizing images. It’s always easier and faster to fix a problem when there are specific things to look at and correct.

Messy and unnecessary coding can be another cause of a slow website. As much as we like the convenience of a content management system you have to choose the right one and implement proper plugins and tools. As auto-generated things go, the coding isn’t always the most efficient way display something. This is a trade-off you make if you’re not familiar with coding. Bulky code means that you’re not making it easier for search engines to crawl your site in their language. And wherever possible, you’re going to want to make sure this is the case! Especially when it comes to navigation, images and other complicated programming.

Tt’s crucial to get a reliable web host and server, especially for large websites. One option is to opt for a content delivery network, where servers are spread out across multiple centers across the internet, instead of just a single location. Either way, you want your website up and running fast, all the time. Down time is inevitable but choosing a reputable host will help you avoid messy problems. Did you know that some websites can even start having problems with their site or pages being indexed because their site is down so much? Or at least down when Google gets around to crawling their site.

Slow websites aren’t just frustrating for consumers but search engines are looking down and downgrading websites with slow load times. Even if your website is a beautiful piece of art with unique, quality content, it won’t count for much if it takes forever to load. Of all the other online marketing problems out there, don’t let this be one! Take a look at our web development and other SEO friendly services and let us know if you’re having problems with a slow website.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

Search Engine Friendly Drop Down Menus

Navigation is one of the most important factors of a successful website. This is where drop down menus can hurt or help your website. As a general rule of thumb, mega drop down menus aren’t really known to be SEO friendly or helpful for visitors. Here’s a quick rundown on drop downs.

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Organizing all of your site content can be a huge challenge. Sticking it in another place on your menu doesn’t hide the problem and it certainly doesn’t help the user experience. This is where the mega drop down and submenus were born. More doesn’t always mean better and this is especially true for drop down menus, except for certain industries, such as e-commerce.

In any case, most if not all drop down menus use a major overhaul.

User Experience
Having multiple drop down menus can be confusing as people don’t know what they’re looking for. As you might have heard, give a person too many choices and they might not choose at all. There’a always the possibility that being overwhelmed or confused can cause visitors to leave your site all together.

Having long drop down navigation or secondary drop downs can be difficult to navigate if they’re not coded properly. For example, some secondary drop downs will disappear if you accidentally navigate away before clicking on the thing you’re looking for. Although this sounds funny, many people don’t have such good hand-eye coordination and long drop downs aren’t going to be a welcoming factor of your site.

Consistency
Although there are no rules for organizing drop down menus, there are certain things that people look for. For example, the left most item and header image should take users back to the home page. The contact button and other location information is typically located on the right hand side. It’s important to be consistent, especially if you have different drop down navigation in different parts of your website.

Even little things matter, like little arrows indicating that there are more items in a sub menu. If you use some design elements in one place, it’s important to remember to use them consistently throughout your website.

Load time
More items means more time to load. Although you could potentially solve this problem by using Javascript, it’s not really recommended for SEO purposes.

As if having more links wasn’t enough to slow down your website, some sites are now adding pictures to drop down menus! This isn’t helping with your website load time. Test your own website(s) by using Google’s PageSpeed Tools.

SEO
Speaking of SEO-friendly, it’s important for search engines to properly crawl all the links in your drop down menus. Having so many items could also give a bad signal to search engines. Especially if there are a lot of repetitive keywords and phrases, as this could indicate that your website is top heavy (with links) and keyword stuffing.

To Add or Not to Add?
Capturing website visitors is not an easy task and you don’t want to scare them away with monster drop down menus. Make a good impression by presenting clean drop downs. With the recent trend of simple and responsive web design, some sites are forgoing drop down menu navigation all together. What’s your take? Add drop downs or not?

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.