“Life is simple. You just have to stop trying to figure it out.”
KEEP IT SIMPLE, SILLY: SIMPLIFIED DESIGN
Keeping things simple is definitely easier said than done. Simplified design for SEO sounds as if it would be impossible. As you are likely aware, article after article makes this clear. The research cited in blogs, infographics, eBooks, market research reports, educational videos, and white papers all list dozens of features and coding techniques to bring success through what can only be initially viewed as complexity. Are we preaching to the choir?
Let me start by noting we feel your pain. The articles that line our pages point to some of this external complexity. Consider the following:
“Simplicities are enormously complex. Consider the sentence ‘I love you.’”
-Richard O. Moore, Writing the Silences
The same is true for website optimization. It is an enormously complex task to create a simplified design for your website. We hope to help you cut through the voices and confusion that can come from surface level sourcing blogs to narrow down your search to five key features to simplify your design and increase your rankings.
HOW DOES A SIMPLIFIED DESIGN INCREASE RANKINGS
As complex as SEO can seem, it really boils down to customer satisfaction. This is what the search engines are looking for when they crawl. This is what the search engines protect against when they use complex algorithms in their crawling. The basic premise and goal of a search engine is to find relevant content that its users will like and thus return. All of the other functions and tools serve this goal: satisfied return customers. Search engines are looking for the “go-to” sites. If you successfully build your site to create satisfied return customers, you are likely to see improvement in your rankings.
FIVE KEY FEATURES TO SIMPLIFY YOUR DESIGN
Though we could obviously look at more, for the sake of simplicity we will look at a few key areas to shape the way you build, maintain, and use your site.
“A child of five could understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five.”
-Groucho Marx, Actor and Comedian
You likely have a content strategy. That strategy was formed around your goals. If you want to build a house (the goal), then you will need a blueprint (the strategy). A lot of preparation goes into the research of how to build the house you want. At the end of that preparation you begin building with your blueprint in hand. Houses always start with a foundation. So does your site design. The site won’t start with the customers. It starts with you. What do you plan to do? What are you good at or committed to becoming great at? Once you understand this, you look to present your work to the world.
- Build your site based on your expertise
- What is your niche? What would you showcase as your strength? Limit this as much as makes sense. What do people you know look to you for today? Why did you start your business?
- Share your knowledge
- Video How-Tos
- Research or Reports
- Share your relevant network (linking, interviews. Limited advertisements or endorsements that contribute to your success in your field of expertise)
- Showcase your work in a limited way
- Put your best work forth or what makes most sense to showcase your capabilities.
- Interact with your customers
- Choose a method of communication that will be easy for your customer and you. Commit to monitor and respond to it. Don’t overcommit.
- Monitor your online reviews….without taking them personally. Respond and find ways to meet and listen to those who write negative reviews. Thank positive reviewers.
- Create a bridge to work with you
- Social Media (Sharing)
- Contests and Programs
- Site navigation needs to be geared for mobile and desktop customers
- Proper Size
- Limited Navigation because you use the “right” content
- Give yourself time: Organic growth can flourish if you give yourself time to cultivate the right content.
- Plan for longevity, live in the day: Dictate content and releases with your long-term end goals in mind and then implement what you can manage and do well today. As you grow in ability and resources, you can expand where it makes sense.
- Remember that creating the right content will lead to site visits. You may not be on the first page, but people are looking for answers. So many companies are implementing strategies to make it to the first page of Google, but they aren’t prepared to satisfy their visitors. This can lead to losing customers before you have them. On the other hand, if you provide a good content piece, one good piece, you will likely have repeat visitors and content shares. Let the quality of the content speak for itself. People want to listen.
“If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.”
The content you create should be limited to the areas you know best. You want to be an expert in something. You are answering a very particular set of questions about a very specific need. You want to be able to speak in such a simple manner, on potentially complex subjects, in a way that anyone could access your content and find the answer to the query they used to get there. The types of content can vary, though there is something to be said for the elegance of a simple, reliable content offering, as long as you are providing your customer with what they need to know in a way that they accomplish their goal. Let me simplify that statement. It was too complex.
- Limit the content you offer to only content that serves your customer well in their journey, not
Content can be the reward. Develop your content in such a way that whoever uses it gets the results they were looking for. Both you and the customer win.
- Find ways to go a step beyond this and reward those who are loyal customers and return visitors and look for ways to reward shares when it makes sense. These rewards may not be on the site, but come from customer loyalty that grew out of your site.
- Custom or specialized content for this limited audience
- Gifts or free downloads
- Invitations for onsite tours (if you are able)
- Lunch or coffee Meet and Greets
- Give them yourself however that looks
For additional technical assistance on designing your simplified (responsive) design website, we recommend this article.