What’s in the Serps Invaders’ library? One of our old favourites is a book titled “Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works” by Janice (Ginny) Redish. This book goes into great detail about how you can best optimise your onsite features to allow your user to have the best quality experience. I wanted to share some of the key information, as although very basic, I think it is vital to remind ourselves from time to time what’s really important when it comes to website design and SEO.
So I think the best place to start is with a simple question.
Why do people use websites?
Generally people visit websites for two main purposes.
- To find information they need.
- To complete a task.
It is with this in mind that we should develop our sites, with emphasis on the following key elements.
Navigation and Accessibility
It is vital to get this right; if you don’t then your visitors are going to move on, very quickly!
- Keep your page simple and relevant, over complicating your site with flash and an over use of images will cause clutter and confusing, resulting in a loss of interest from your visitors
- Consistency is the key, by keeping the navigation bar and layout the same on each page, your users will feel comfortable and familiar with your site, resulting in a user friendly site.
- Assume your users don’t have a back button; keep each page flowing, keep them moving forward through your site.
- Use ambiguous terms to describe your links, be clear rather than clever, your site visitor simply wants to find what they need.
The greatest skill one can take away from “Letting Go of the Words” is the ability to write great web content.
The way in which people read web copy is completely removed from the way they read that of a book.
Web content should be engaging and carry a conversation.
It should be quick to read/skim, relevant and easy to interpret.
You have about 2.5 seconds from the moment an average site visitor lands on your page, for them either seeing what they need and clicking forward, or leaving your page.
Contact and Help
It is every website owner’s goal to make conversions.
So make sure this can happen at any point during a visit to your site.
Make your contact information clear and visible on every page, not just the contact page.
This ensures that when the user decides to go forward with a purchase or a sign up, they are able to quickly do so without needing to search further, which may result in the loss of a conversion.
These are just very basic fundamentals that you should implement throughout your site. In terms of SEO, I always start with the onsite factors at the start of any SEO project, as without a great site, at the end of the day all other SEO techniques will be in vain.