Content is the new customer experience.
For years, the timeworn mantra of the digital marketing world has been “content is king,” but as we progress further into the information age, the phrase is evolving.
Savvy businesses are recognizing every piece of content as an opportunity to engage, delight, and build trust with their present and future customers. Now, content isn’t just about conveying information; it’s about crafting experiences that resonate.
To truly get the most out of digital content, however, businesses must understand and utilize the power of a dynamic duo: web design and SEO.
The Importance of Web Design and SEO
Today, businesses from every industry and sector face what can often seem like an overwhelming challenge: being seen and remembered in the ever expanding digital universe.
While that obstacle might seem daunting at first, given the amount of sheer content available online, you have two invaluable allies in your quest for digital visibility. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and web design that emphasizes user experience (UX) represent a potent one-two punch that can significantly boost your online presence and, by extension, your bottom line.
Without these two tools, trying to get noticed online is like shouting in the middle of a rock concert.
Why Search Engine Optimization Matters
The mere fact that you’re reading this blog post suggests you already know that SEO-friendly content matters, but let’s start with the basics as a refresher and to ensure we’re all on the same page: What is SEO?
In simple terms, it’s the art and science of optimizing your online content so that search engines — like Google — show it at the top of its search results for certain keywords.
But why should you care about it?
Organic Traffic Boost
SEO is the primary source of organic (read: free) website traffic. Being at the top of search engine results for a relevant keyword can funnel a steady stream of potential customers to your site.
Credibility and Trust
Users trust search engines. Ranking high in search engine results pages (SERPs) can boost the credibility of your business. After all, if a search engine like Google trusts you enough to rank you on the first page, users are more likely to trust you too.
While paid advertising certainly brings results, its effects are campaign-based and can get expensive. SEO, on the other hand, offers long-lasting results. Once you’ve achieved a high ranking for a keyword, you can maintain that top search results with minimal ongoing effort, ensuring a consistent flow of traffic.
The Importance of SEO is Growing
Understanding these foundational reasons for the importance of SEO is just the beginning.
As the world of digital content evolves (alongside the sophistication of search engines), the marketing challenges and opportunities presented online are being magnified. To return to the shouting at a rock concert analogy from earlier: The internet isn’t just one rock concert anymore; it’s a sprawling music festival with millions of acts, where every nook and cranny is filled with sights and sounds vying for attention.
In other words, everyone is online. On the same day, in the same hour, you might visit a grandma’s knitting blog and a mega-corporation’s e-commerce page. To answer the question we posed earlier — “Why does SEO matter?” — we also need to consider the context of our current digital age.
Everyone’s Shopping Online
With recent global events, there’s been an unmistakable shift towards e-commerce. No matter the size of a brick-and-mortar retailer, it now has digital competition — some existing solely online. If you want a slice of that e-pie, you’ve got to ensure people can find you.
There’s a dizzying amount of content uploaded every minute. And not all of it is optimized for search engines. By focusing on SEO, you’re giving your content the boost it needs to soar above the noise.
Remember enormous desktop computers and the sound of a fax modem connecting to the internet? Those days are long gone. People are using search engines on-the-go with their smartphones. SEO, especially local SEO, ensures you’re right there in their pocket when they’re looking for services “near me.”
Search Engines are Smarter
Gone are the days of stuffing a webpage with keywords and hoping for the best. Search engines understand, with their sophisticated algorithms, to prioritize quality content, relevance, and user experience while also taking website URL structure, relevant keywords, site architecture, meta descriptions, meta tags, header tags and title tags into account. Proper SEO aligns with these factors, ensuring you’re not just visible to search engines, but also delivering top-notch content.
The Right SEO Strategy
While the internet continues to grow exponentially, the right SEO strategy can help your content act as a beacon, guiding users straight to your digital coordinates. To market your business effectively, you have to do more than merely be online; you have to be seen and heard.
But before that can happen, you have to be found.
The best way to ensure that is to have an SEO-friendly website. And by optimizing your content for search engines, you’re well on your way to becoming an online attraction. But of course, drawing people to your site is one thing, delivering the type of memorable user experience we mentioned at the beginning is another.
Web Design: More Than Mere Aesthetics
This is where the importance of dynamic web design and web development comes into play.
Let’s say your SEO efforts have paid off, and people are visiting your website. The battle is far from over. Your website’s design — and how it influences user experience — plays a pivotal role in either retaining that visitor (through internal links) or sending them clicking away.
It’s a bit like visiting a new cafe because you heard they brew the finest coffee in town. But, as you step in, you’re met with dim lighting, an unclear menu, and an uncomfortable seating arrangement. No matter how good you heard their coffee is, chances are, you won’t stick around long, let alone return. Now, think of your website as that cafe, and the UX as the ambiance and layout.
This is why your website design process must consider UX:
First Impressions Count
Within seconds of landing on one of your web pages, users will form an opinion about your business. A clean, modern, and user-friendly website design can make a positive lasting impression, while a cluttered or outdated web design can deter potential customers.
With more than half of global web traffic coming from mobile devices, it’s crucial that your web pages look and function flawlessly on smartphones and tablets. A responsive web design adapts to different screen sizes, ensuring a seamless experience for all users.
A well-designed website is intuitive. Users should be able to find the information they’re looking for with ease. Excellent site structure not only enhances user experience but can also lead to longer website visits and higher conversion rates from its use of internal links.
As the title of this section suggests, great web design is about more than merely looking amazing. It’s as much about function as it is form. If your site takes forever to load, users are probably not going to stick around to admire the view. In our age of instant gratification, page speed is of the essence. Good web design and development is mindful of UX, and so it incorporates fast load times to keep users engaged as they click through internal links and extend their stay.
A website with a thoughtful UX design encourages visitors to explore, interact, and engage with your content. Whether it’s watching a video, reading a blog post, or making a purchase, a positive user experience facilitates deeper engagement.
Reduced Bounce Rates
If visitors sourced from organic search results find your site confusing or unappealing, they’ll bounce right off (at best) or head to a competitor’s site (at worst). A good UX design reduces bounce rates, ensuring that the hard work you put into SEO-friendly content doesn’t go to waste.
Last, but certainly not least, good web design and development enhances your brand’s reputation. A website that’s easy to use, looks professional, and functions smoothly signals to visitors that you care about customer experience, that you care about them. This not only boosts your brand’s credibility, it builds trust in both new and returning customers.
The Symbiotic Relationship Between Web Design and SEO
While SEO might get visitors to your digital doorstep, it’s a web design considerate of user experience that invites them in, offers them a comfy seat, and serves up that delightful cup of coffee.
That’s why it’s essential to understand that web design and SEO aren’t isolated from each other; web design and SEO go hand in hand.
For instance, a website that loads quickly and is responsive to mobile devices isn’t just user-friendly; it’s also SEO-friendly. Search engines prioritize SEO-friendly web design because they offer a better overall user experience. Conversely, no matter how well-optimized your content is, if users find your web design off-putting, they’re less likely to stick around or convert into paying customers.
Why SEO and Web Design are Better Together
If you’re a small to mid-sized business owner who understands the connection between SEO and effective web design, you’re already thinking a step ahead of the competition. But actually taking that step requires an investment in both.
It’s true that either an SEO-friendly website or a well-designed website can bring results on their own. However, the magic doesn’t truly happen until they’re combined and developed like the connected force that they are.
Investing in both SEO services and web design geared toward UX ensures you’re attracting visitors to your site and providing them with a positive experience once they arrive. That combination — the one-two punch we mentioned earlier — is unbeatable.
Harvard Excelerate is the Place to Start
In digital marketing, it’s not just about being seen. It’s about being remembered. Harvard Excelerate’s free website audit is the first step to making a lasting impression with your content.
Our digital marketing health check will provide meaningful insights and actionable advice that are proven to deliver results:
- Improved search results.
- Optimized web performance.
- Boosted customer engagement.
- Increased conversions through mobile-friendly design.
- Elevated brand perception.
- And more.
Improve your SEO, make your web design better and use your content to show future customers you value their experience. Then, experience the value — increased demand, better leads, more conversions and an improved bottom line — yourself.