What makes a good website that both search engines and users like? Are there any special ingredients that can help you differentiate your website from the rest? The answer may be simpler than you think.
What is a great website?
Everyone can give a different answer on what is a great website. For some it may be a website with a fantastic design and for others it can be a flat website with no fancy graphics but with great content.
In general though we can say that a great website is one that fulfills the business objectives. Usually to satisfy your business goals you need a website that generates traffic and conversions.
To be able to achieve the first part i.e. get more traffic, your website has to be liked by both search engines and users while the second part i.e. conversion optimization has to do with your actual website design and user behaviour.
So, a great website is not necessarily the one that looks appealing to the eye but needs to also have some other characteristics as well. Let’s see below what are these attributes that differentiate good websites from the rest.
How do you make a good website?
#1 – You have read this a thousand times but Yes content comes first
There is no way to talk about digital marketing or SEO without mentioning the quality of content. I know that some people don’t want to hear this but a good website starts with great content.
When we talk about content we don’t mean any type of content but evergreen content that will guarantee a website success in the long term.
BUT even if you have great content, you need more than that otherwise you will be the only one visiting and reading what you have published after hours of hard work, so keep reading….
#2 – SEO comes second but it’s a must
You can create awesome content, that’s great but what’s next? You need to make sure that Google can read and understand what your website and pages are all about.
In simple words, you need to create an SEO friendly website and also give special attention to on-page SEO. The idea is simple: the more information you can give to search engines in a way they can understand it (that’s also a very simplified definition of SEO), the greater are your chances of achieving higher rankings.
#3 – Gain user trust – a critical success factor
Gaining user trust is a critical success factor because even if you manage to win Google trust you still need to win user trust as well. User trust has to do mainly with content but also it relates to user respect.
You respect your users by providing them with accurate information that is easy to access without trying to trick them into clicking ads or having them register to an email list that you will then share with marketing companies without their concern.
If the sole purpose of your website is profit (either direct or indirect) then you will fail gaining user trust and sooner or later you will fail in gaining search engine trust. If on the other hand you manage to convince visitors that you are trying to provide them with a useful experience then the benefits are a lot.
What are the benefits from gaining user trust?
- They will share your content in social media.
- They will mention your website in their posts.
- They are more likely to become loyal readers.
- They are more likely to convert into customers (if you are selling a product or service).
#4 – A great website has to be mobile friendly as well
A vast majority of people is using their mobile devices to start or continue a search and it is necessary that your website is mobile friendly.
Google will add this officially in their mobile ranking algorithm as of April 2015, so failing to provide your users will a mobile friendly website will damage your Google rankings and will also make a large number of your visitors who like to surf on mobile unhappy.
#5 – Fast is better than slow
Website speed is again related to SEO, usability and user trust. Neither users or search engines want to visit a website that takes too much time to load. Slow websites have lower google rankings and negatively impact the overall user experience.
What kind of website do you like to visit, a slow loading website full of graphics or a fast website with a more careful approach on the use of multimedia elements? The answer is obvious so try to take this into account when building your website.
#6 – A great website has to win the social proof game too
In today’s competitive online World and with the rise of social media networks, it is imperative that you win the social media game too.
A good website it’s easier to get accepted and shared in social networks and social acceptability (likes, shares, followers) proofs that it’s a great website.
Unfortunately social success won’t happen overnight and won’t happen without effort. You need to have a plan and a social media strategy that will push your website in the social networks and bring it in front of the users.
It’s not enough to say that you have a great website but other people need to agree by liking, sharing and following your website. So it is important to spend some time and money (for advertising) to promote your website in social media and win the social media proof.
#7 – A good website is referenced by other good sites
This is pretty much how search engines ‘think’ when you type a search term in their search box and let me explain.
It is normal to have many websites that meet the criteria explained above so how do search engines decide which websites to show in the first page of the results? The answer is in the number and type of references (links) a website has compared to the rest.
A website that has incoming links from other websites has a clear advantage over websites that don’t have any references from other websites. Over the years people have tried to manipulate this by generating thousands of unnatural links in order to gain better rankings but search engines, especially Google, have become ‘clever’ enough and they are able to differentiate between quality links and spammy links.
A quality link these days that can help you with rankings is one that is coming from other good and trusted websites. It’s a huge topic to analyse (which I will do in a new post) but the takeaway for now is that in order to differentiate your good website from other good websites, you need to also have more incoming links (both in quality and quantity) than the other sites competing for the same keywords.
It’s the same story as with the social proof game: A good website is more likely to attract incoming links that will strengthen its rankings and a high ranking website is consider by both users and search engines as a good website.
#8 – A good website takes time and a LOT of work
When you ask Google why your website does not a have a good ranking they will tell you to follow the rules I just explained above and to also keep providing a good experience for your users.
While this is a cliche, it’s the hard truth and the reason is simple. There are thousands of websites competing for a position in the first page of the SERPS for any term you can imagine.
The one’s that survive at the end are those that are keep improving and becoming better over time. It took me years to get my first website in the top positions of Google and make traffic and money and before that I had to spend endless hours figuring out how to do it.
Take for example any successful website or blogger on the Internet, what do they have in common? Many years of blogging and websites that have a lot of great content with thousands of incomming links. Is this something that you can create in a few months? Certainly not BUT if you do consistent work over a period of time you will see that gradually things change and everything after that becomes easier.
Statistics show that most people tend to quit before even spending 6 months working on a their website because they don’t see any real results. It is also true though that those who have managed to succeed have been working hard for many months before they see a real return from their efforts.
Conclusion and final thoughts
What makes a great website is not the design alone but the overall package which includes the content, usability, SEO, social media and trust. As a first step you need to ensure that you have a good score on all these factors and as a second step to keep working until you convince everyone (crawlers and users) that you have a good website. Surviving online is not easy but it’s not impossible either.