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Internet Marketing

Does Good Web Design Equal More Traffic?

One of my clients rang this morning, frantic over a new competitor website he discovered. Much of his business comes via facebook and good placement in Google search results, with thousands visiting each month. This new site seemed a major threat. Certainly the visual appearance and functionality was indeed stunning.  It was one of those $30,000 shopping/directory websites, likely assembled by a team of skilled graphic designers, in this instance utilising the respected Adobe catalyst platform.

Let’s look below the surface…

website auditI decided to look beneath the surface of the site and visuals, to find out if Google was equally impressed, by giving it a high ranking and thereby sending it lots of free organic search traffic. Thankfully for my client, an hour later I had the preliminary results from my SEOProfiler analysis (right), which gave this costly site the big thumbs down.

It had hundreds of errors and warnings. Obviously very little work had been done around SEO or optimising the code.  Separate SEOProfiler tests confirmed this fancy shop website had historically ranked for around 50 keyword phrases which sounds good, but the most popular phrases had this site placed way down on page 3, 4 or 5 of a search result, meaning they’d actually get very little search traffic.

Why? Google does not like a messy website, with sloppy coding. Google cannot see the slick visuals or layout like us humans, only text, site structure and links. It will seldom place any website like this one on page one, the notable exception being if it has loads of domain authority through good backlinks and social media referrals. This site had neither. (Read my better seo with backlinks article)

Whether we can blame the catalyst system or the people who put the site together and maintained it I simply don’t know. But the end result was Google obviously hated this fancy shopping website. It would never get a lot of search traffic in its current state so wasn’t a major threat to my client, who’s website ranked well, often appearing on page one.

Sadly this is a very common issue online, especially here in NZ where website designers and site owners place little emphasis upon SEO and good coding practices. The site designer, who has little interest in traffic or business results, is still in charge.  All time and money is spent making it look good to humans, not their best online salesperson, GOOGLE..

Local SEO skills (and companies) in short supply

This total blindness to what’s important when building an online presence is confirmed when we look at SEO job opportunities on seek today. NZ (pop 4 m) = 7 jobs,  Melbourne (pop 4m) = 51 jobs. Similar huge disparity when we look at the use of WordPress. 

p.s. It gets worse. Upon analysing a number of local SEO companies revealed 50% of their own websites couldn’t attract traffic either, having negligible rankings. It will be the blind leading the blind. My recommendation? Let us setup your own wordpress blogsite and learn to do more yourself, based upon material here and those superb StewartMedia tutorials.


2 Responses to “Does Good Web Design Equal More Traffic?”

  1. I showed this excellent article to our web designer. Instead of thanks he got angry telling me how important design was and we didn’t need to any spend time or money on SEO. Google had indexed the site and would send ample search traffic. But the $8.000 we paid last year for our website gets little traffic and had provided only a couple sales leads. We’re now looking to spend hundreds on AdWords each month.

    Posted by John | August 4, 2013, 9:22 am
    • This is somewhat typical. Each of us only sees value in the areas we are expert at. Designers only see the visuals. Developers code and functionality etc. But with more and more of a sites success around speed, mobile responsiveness, getting traffic etc than pure ‘branding’ then having a graphic artist or ad agency take charge of a website build today is often the worst option.

      Posted by Kevin | August 13, 2013, 11:01 am

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