When you’re looking for a new WordPress website design and development team, what do you need to look for? Is your current website design out of date by a few years? That’s an important one to fix. Does your current website not meet Google standards and best practices? Again, it’s very important to meet Google’s standards, or your website will never rank where it should in Google search engine results. Unless you’re ranking in Google, you’re missing out on a lot of potential customers.
Some Google Standards for website design and development
The foundational principle on which Google bases their website design standards, is user experience. User experience (UX), is important to Google because when they provide search results which will give users a good experience, those users will keep coming back to Google for their search needs. Google needs people to use their search engine, because the majority of their income comes from advertising and a lot of those ads are directly in search results. A better user experience means more money for both you and Google.
Here are some core best website design and development practices recommended by Google:
- keep user experience top of mind
- a mobile-friendly (read Responsive) website design
- a website which loads quickly
- a website that is easy to navigate
- a website which delivers exactly what people are searching for
- a website which answers questions quickly and easily
- webpages which are technically well setup
- webpages which are easy for Google to understand, crawl and index
- a website which attracts many links to it from other high authority websites
- webpages that people want to share on social media
- Did I mention good user experience?
What makes a WordPress designed website mobile-friendly?
Let’s talk about having a mobile-friendly website design. In the first quarter of 2015, Google announced that starting April 21 they would begin using mobile-friendly as a ranking factor. Basically what this means is, if your website had mobile-friendly content (all other factors being equal) your website will rise in search rankings. Note that this is checked on a page to page basis, so each page will either pass or not pass the mobile-friendly check by itself. Click here to see if your page is mobile friendly.Taking this a step further, Google actually recommends Responsive Web Design as the best way to be mobile-friendly. When considering what type of WordPress website you want designed and developed, be sure to find out if it will meet the Responsive Web Design standards. Here, Google shows you exactly what Responsive Web Design should look like.
Why does your WordPress website need to load quickly?
It always comes back to that user experience. Particularly with WordPress, website load times (also referred to as page load times) are important to keep in mind, because WordPress websites aren’t always optimized for speed. Optimizing the speed of your WordPress website can be done in as little as a few hours, and can be as involved as hiring a developer just for this purpose. Smashing Magazine has an excellent article on How To Speed Up Your WordPress Website
Back to the why a website needs to be fast, and provide an excellent user experience. As you’ll see in the Smashing Magazine article above, if your website takes too long to load people will just leave. Even if the content is great, people have a low tolerance for a slow website, and that low tolerance is getting even lower when it comes to mobile and of course mobile is the fastest growing segment. Providing a fast website is providing a good user experience, so be sure your website is fast. Google provides the PageSpeed Insights tool, which will not only analyze your webpages for fast load times, but also recommend specific ways you can decrease load times.
Why does your website design need to be easy to navigate?
Have I mentioned user experience yet, oh a few times..great! Having a website design that is easy to navigate, will help people find what they need more quickly. If your website design is easy to navigate, people will tend to stay longer and visit more of your webpages. These are signals to Google that your website is providing an exceptional user experience, and are factors in higher Google search rankings.
Ease of navigation must extend to all the potential devices which people may use to access your site. It is for this reason which Google recommends Responsive Web Design, and of course you want to provide an amazing experience to your visitors so they keep coming back and tell their friends.
Build a website which answers people’s questionsNotice in this article, I ask a lot of questions and provide answers to each of them. People are using Google to find answers. In fact, Google is even able to answer some questions directly in search results. This answer ability comes from the Google Knowledge Graph, so you can see how important it is to answer people’s questions i.e. Google thinks it’s important and so should you.
Think about it, when you use Google, are you looking for answers? Chances are you answered yes, and you’re not alone. Put another way, when someone asks you a question in person, how often do you hear the term “oh, just Google it”. Google isn’t actually answering any of these questions themselves (well they do answer some Google related questions), but for the most part your Google search results are coming from websites which can quickly and fully answer questions for people. Be sure your WordPress website design and development team are helping you answer people’s questions when they build your new site.
Why should my new WordPress website be technically well setup?
First of all, let’s talk about what it means to have a WordPress website which is technically well setup. A website which is technically well setup, will use the latest web standards and best practices. Particularly in the case of WordPress, a new website must have the latest updates for both WordPress, any theme and any plugins that are used. Also, the hosting environment must have the most secure/stable versions of the necessary backend technology like PHP, MySQL, Apache etc.
In addition, having a technically well setup website means having SEO friendly on page optimization taken care of. Generally speaking, this means at least having the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin installed, properly setup and each page optimized for a keyword. On page SEO optimization for WordPress is an extensive subject, and you can learn more here in The Definitive Guide To Higher Rankings For WordPress Sites. For the purposes of this article, be sure that your WordPress designer and developer understand these best SEO practices.
Now, why should your WordPress website be technically well setup? Because if your website is technically well setup you will rank better in Google, and as a result get a lot more customers. Enough said.
Why your website design must be easy for Google to understand, crawl and index
Google isn’t a person, but rather a “smart” machine which crawls the web for content. That means Google doesn’t “see” your website like people do, and as a result we need to make it easy for Google to understand. Thankfully, Google provides these Webmaster Guidelines to help us understand what makes a website easy for Google to use. Basically, you want a website that is organized and easy to navigate. Make sure you give Google a sitemap and follow the best practices in these 3 key areas as outlined by Google:
- Design and content guidelines
- Technical guidelines
- Quality guidelines
Again, the reason you need a website design which is easy for Google to understand, is because your website will rank higher in search results when you provide this kind of website. As already mentioned, but it bears repeating, the higher you rank in Google the more customers you will have.
Why does a website need to attract many links to it from other high authority websites?
Simply put, when your website attracts links to it from other relevant websites in your industry who are recognized as being high quality, high authority etc., you will rank better in Google. So, how do you attract these links? Content, content and more content. Not just any content will attract the right kind of links, but the kind of content that is outstanding and provides what most others do not, that is the kind of content you need for links. Here is a link to an excellent article by Bruce Clay on link building and attracting quality links.
Your WordPress website design and development team need to make it easy for you to develop this kind of content. WordPress is a content management system (CMS), but be sure the person who is building your new website takes the time to teach you how to use it.
Have webpages that people want to share and are easy to share on social media
Having a website which allows you to produce the kind of content mentioned above, has the added benefit that people want to share it on social media, so make it easy for them. Be sure that your new WordPress website has easy to use social sharing buttons on every page. These social sharing buttons should be easy to use, but not interfere with navigation or page load speed.
A good WordPress plugin for social sharing buttons is available from AddThis. Be sure your new WordPress website uses this or another plugin for social sharing.
So what are you looking for in a responsive WordPress website design and development team?
You are looking for a team who understands not only how to build a website, but also how that website functions in the ever changing Internet environment. In addition to a team who follows Google’s best practices, your new WordPress website will require ongoing maintenance. Be sure you have an ongoing maintenance package in place, to keep everything running smoothly and it must include good backups in case anything does go wrong.
You need a team who not only knows how to properly develop a new WordPress website, but who can communicate with you and whom you can trust.