At the beginning of new client collaboration comes the site audit. I love doing these thorough, in-depth audits of a new client’s online presence because it allows me (the digital marketing manager) to see what we are working with and also be inspired by how to best strategize an approach. My favorite part of these audits, though, is the section on site architecture and design. Here’s why:
SEO content can do a lot for your site, but if the site itself isn’t built in a manner that allows SEO content to shine through then we are looking at starting a karate match with one of our hands in a cast. We are not in our strongest state and therefore we have to work even harder to have a shot.
Think of it this way. Website design is like the foundation of a house—the bones, the structure that gives us the walls, the floors, the piping, etc. SEO content is the interior design—the paint, the carpeting, the furniture. It is the flare that (under the guidance of an expert) can turn the bare bones, base structure into something everyone wants to live in and that will rise to the top of the listings. Taking this analogy, you can see what I’m getting at.
At the end of the day, if your foundation isn’t strong, your website isn’t going to be as strong.
That is why, when you are endeavoring to form an online presence relationship with a digital marketing manager, it is important to take their site design recommendations to heart. Whether these are recommendations for touch-ups or complete redesigns, a professional only wants to make sure your SEO efforts are giving you the most benefit they can. And if your foundation isn’t up to par, your manager has a responsibility to say so and also give you the best guidance for what to do about it.
At A Glance
When looking over a site for design improvements, some areas to really pay attention to are:
- Menu Structure
- Tab & Page Titles
- Featured Content
- Channel Connection
Always remember the lessons of user interface: you want to make your website easy for visitors and search engines to understand and navigate. That being said, you want a site menu that is completely clear-cut. Umbrella your pages under tabs in the form of dropdown menus, grouping them in a way that makes the most sense. Have an easy way for people to get to and from contact information, all major services or products, and return to the homepage. In sum, you want to make it as simple as possible for visitors and web crawlers to maneuver around the site and naturally find what they’re looking for.
Tab & Page Titles
Going along with this theme of simplicity, keep your tab and page titles direct. If you have seven services at your dermatology practice, have a tab that says “Services” and then a dropdown menu for each of those services. If you are a sushi restaurant with five locations, have a “Locations” tab with the name of each location (the city, for example) in a dropdown menu. Get it? Make it simple. I would also recommend using keywords whenever possible here too. Using a keyword for a tab or page title can help with SEO.
You’d be surprised how many people out there are clogging their websites with unnecessary content. I once had an optometry client that literally had a practice webpage dedicated to pictures of wildlife. My question to this is WHY? If we go back to the house analogy, if you are a minimalist with a passion for Icelandic primitive design, why the heck would you designate a room in your house for a mariachi sombrero collection? The answer: you wouldn’t, because you need to use your space to showcase that which truly represents you. So when going through your website ask yourself, does each of my pages really serve a valuable purpose?
With SEO, different content channels are important. In addition to your traditional SEO content (page content, title tags, meta descriptions, etc.), you want to ensure your site is properly outfitted to host a variety of content channels. This shows the search engines that you have a big content footprint, which can help you rank higher in the search result pages. Thus, make sure your site features a blog, reviews, testimonials, and/or video in its structure. On a kind of related note, have a simple way for visitors to link to your social media platforms. I would suggest icons that are easy to find and that redirect to social media platforms in new tabs.
Success In Site
Menu structure, tab and page titles, featured content, and channel connection are four key areas an online presence manager might look at first when making recommendations about your site design. These are often the areas where a need for change can be most notable. However, your design recommendations may not be limited to these four. Every website owner has the choice to accept or reject a redesign recommendation, but at the end of the day know that your manager only has your best interests at heart. Speaking from experience, I make my site design recommendations because I want to ensure that my clients are in the best possible position to succeed. And when we move forward together, we can build something beautiful.