Monkey See, Monkey Don’t
When updating your website, do not look at other sites and think, “if it’s working for them, then it is going to work for me!” This is one of the biggest misconceptions in competitor analysis. We know that trends come and go, so why mimic another company’s web design or SEO without doing some diligent research? Here are some of the most misunderstood design techniques that could be killing your traffic.
A lot of businesses would rather use images and interactive sections to engage the users and peak their interest instead of loading a page with written text. While this may instantly grab the user’s attention, it also drastically reduces the amount of crawlable text on your website. Without the text, Google will be confused on what your page is about. There are innovative visuals and tactics that allow for you to maintain an appealing user experience without blinding the search engine bots.
Parallax is when your background images move at slightly slower pace than the physical scroll of the page. This gives the user an illusion of depth on the website, like you are looking into and through the page. This may give your website a “cool” feel, however, this seriously hinders your SEO and online visibility. Having one URL with your content on one scrolling page means both the users and the bots will have a hard time finding relevant content.
Though the look of a parallax scrolling website could sound appealing, there are many drawbacks. As images in the background and foreground create an illusion, that’s all they’re doing. Your users want their information quickly and painlessly. The concept of parallax scrolling will hinder your page load speed, and the more content you have the longer the load time. Plus, it’s tough to track user behavior and how they navigate your site with the one URL, limiting your knowledge of how to improve your analytics.
Lazy Loading is when the next section of a page does not appear until you scroll to that part of the page. This cannot be properly spidered by Google for content indexing because the Google bots will not index the content that doesn’t immediately appear without the trigger of scrolling. Google may sense thin content on your site, meaning all that healthy content you added to the site will not be crawled to assist your search traffic in any form.
While always interactive and attractive, Flash is still very poorly indexed by Google. That’s not to say you can’t have some flash somewhere throughout the site, but it’s best practice to not use flash for your content or navigation. Don’t expect the Google bots to crawl an entirely flash based site. The upside to people that love the allure of flash is that HTML5 is SEO-friendly and can achieve similar, if not the same, effect.
This is one of the most useless features businesses implement onto websites. They annoy the end users and are not even indexed by the Google bots. Most users close pop-ups the moment they appear, and the remaining users bounce off the site with an immediate bias of the company. This goes without saying, but get rid of that song that auto plays upon site-load, as well. Anyone viewing your website in a public location or at their workplace will instantaneously criticize and bounce off your site.
When trying to decide which direction to take your site, know that the tactics above will tank your traffic and negate your organic SEO. While these may be visually appealing and exciting for your users, remember that cool and trendy are not adjectives that describe crawlable business success.
Make your website design user-friendly and appealing. If you want to stand out from your competitors, your design has to be unique. Take a creative approach, but keep your users in mind and watch the traffic begin to flow.