SEO and Design
Four months ago Google rolled out what I think is an under examined feature, Site Preview. This little addition allows users to preview what the site looks like before they click. So you’re asking yourself what does site design have to do with SEO? Everything. Many marketers make the mistake of looking the parts of Interactive marketing as if they are separate and have no affect on each other when nothing could be further from the truth. Every part of optimizing your site for visitors and users has immediate or future consequences.
Searchers Make Snap Judgements
Before site preview searchers had to read the hopefully carefully crafted words the SEO or content creator put in the description tag. Now they may read this but they will also judge you on the design of your site. If you’ve got 3-4 seconds to show someone you’ve got the information they want will this snapshot say “click me” or will it make them move on to the next site?
How often your site is clicked on from a SERP page matters and is likely a deciding factor in Google’s decision for your future ranking. If your site design is hurting your click through consider modifications.
Design for Users not for Designers
So what is a site owner to do? Design your home page to meet the expectations of your site visitor. This should give pause to those of you who use extensive Flash on your home page. You don’t know what state of your animation Google will capture for your preview.
I don’t recommend designing your site simply based on Google’s site preview but as you review your home page keep in mind testing for preview sized samples to see which design helps your SEO.