Categories: Home Builder SEO, Responsive Design, Website Design | Posted: July 24, 2015 | By: Abby Hill
For those of you who don’t know, we went to the Moz SEO conference last week. Or rather, I went to the Moz SEO conference last week, but what I learned there impacts our entire team here at Builder Designs, so I say we all went to this conference in a way.
Here’s what I took away above all else: your website design has a direct effect on your SEO. Not many people are talking about this, because it’s not even something that Google is promoting, but Google is noticing how people interact with your site.
When you think about Google’s mission, it makes a lot of sense. Google is all about the user. If the user cannot find what he or she wants on Google, then Google has done a bad job. Google will not deliver a website in a search result that hardly anyone goes to and no one seems to like using.
In fact, Google so desperately relies on websites to satisfy users’ search queries that it will even deliver small websites with weak SEO if they turn out to be the one site that users are seeking out to answer their search query.
In the homebuilding industry, we know there’s not necessarily one site that users will flock to in order to find their new home. Homebuilder sites are a weird hybrid of e-commerce and information. You can’t actually buy a home on a homebuilder’s website, but you visit a homebuilder’s website because you want to buy a home. This actually makes implementing an SEO strategy incredibly difficult. It’s why so many builders find it hard to succeed online when a generic SEO company is in charge of their SEO.
So are homebuilder websites outside of this design-SEO relationship? Definitely not. The relation between design and SEO is predicated on some simple stats in your analytics: Do users get to your site and immediately click back to the search results? Or are they spending time on the site, viewing multiple pages, maybe even filling out a form?
Google does pay attention to this. If Google sees that hardly anyone ever comes to your site and those that do don’t seem too interested in what’s on the site, Google is going to look at your keywords and make a note to not have you show up in those search results.
In a way, it’s a lot like selling a home. You get ready for an open house, you’ve landscaped the yard, put some signage up around town, and put a fresh coat of paint on the outside of the house. It’s looking stunning. People are interested. They’re lining up outside the door.
But the inside? Complete ruin. The carpet is stained, the blinds are broken, there’s mold on the ceiling, and the kitchen cabinets are hanging off the hinges. The second these excited homebuyers walk through the door, they turn around and leave. Not too surprising. SEO and design work the same way.
You can spend a lot of money on great SEO–citation building, link building, keyword research, analysis–but if your website isn’t enticing to the user and isn’t intuitive to the way they search for a home, then none of it really matters. It used to be that keywords were the one key to your success, but those days have been gone since Google introduced quality scores. Today, you need good SEO to bring people to your site and good design to keep them there, sending quality scores to Google that feed back into your SEO.
In talking to other SEO professionals at the conference, I learned something incredibly valuable: not many SEO strategists have much to do with web designers. They’re either at a huge company that’s maintaining the websites of one or two major corporations, or they’re at two separate companies. Imagine that. Imagine how hard it would be if your SEO strategist could see that parts of your website were bringing down the SEO, and they couldn’t affect change because they’re not involved with your web developer.
It made us at Builder Designs see the potential for a successful future we can offer our clients. We have the unique ability to analyze the design and functionality of our sites in addition to their on-site and off-site SEO. Needless to say, we’re inspired, and we’re excited to be working on new ways that we can merge our design and SEO efforts to deliver a better product than we ever have. If we built your website and you’d like to be considered for future design testing, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.