It’s a fact that modern business depends on the internet. In an evolving digital world, here are five of the most valuable website trends that can help you stay competitive, and keep your sites ranking well in search engines. We would even go so far as to say these are more than website trends, they are technical “must dos” to help you improve your SEO and keep your website relevant.
1. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer)
In July 2018, Google Chrome began marking all sites not utilizing SSL as “Not Secure.” This message appears in the URL bar of the browser, and it can make visitors feel unsafe on your site. It can also negatively affect your search engine rankings.
What is SSL?
According to SSL.com, “SSL is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browser remains private.” When your browser sends data to your website, SSL will secure that data so it cannot be intercepted by hackers.
How Can You Avoid the “Not Secure” Message?
It is best to contact your web host to ask about securing your site with an SSL certificate. This simple step also allows you to continue improving your search engine rankings.
2. Responsive Web Design
You likely know that Responsive Web Design (RWD) is the tool that allows websites to display properly on any size device or screen, but did you also know the role it plays in your SEO results?
RWD will ensure your website is ready for mobile-first indexing. This type of indexing is part of Google’s efforts to deliver the best possible results for search queries. It will use your website’s mobile view as the starting point for its index listing of your site.
RWD will help keep your search engine rankings intact. Without it, you risk losing your rankings, and in turn, your visitors.
WordPress websites are extremely popular and now power 30 percent of the web. Although the WordPress CMS has regular updates, there is a huge new feature coming soon: Gutenberg.
WordPress currently ships with TinyMCE as the default editor. TinyMCE allows for text entry, photos, videos and shortcodes, but does so in a rudimentary way. Everything is lumped together in one content field, which limits customization.
With Gutenberg, you’ll be able to build your content with blocks, like Legos. Blocks are reusable and customizable, so you’ll be able to work smarter, not harder. Blocks will allow for building pages and posts using some of the same elements as the current TinyMCE editor. However, with new blocks such as buttons, quotes and galleries, users will have more control from within the default WordPress installation. In addition, users will be able to specify columns for their content, a feature long requested by WordPress users. Each block can be customized and is contained within its own “section” within the content field. Finally, new custom blocks can be created by WordPress developers for each website, enabling end users to display their content exactly as they envision.
Gutenberg will start out as the new editor, but will evolve to allow customization for page templates, then customization for entire websites. Imagine being able to customize how you view any WordPress website on the internet. The default view will be as the designers intended, but you’ll be able to choose what works best for you. That’s the long-term plan for Gutenberg.
4. Video Backgrounds
Video is a powerful force in the digital world. According to TechCrunch, Facebook users watch 100 million hours of video per day. More than 10 billion videos are watched on Snapchat on a daily basis. And, people spend on average 2.6 times as long on web pages with video than without.
You’re probably already embedding videos into your website. This is extremely valuable, especially if your videos are hosted on YouTube, where you can get a SEO boost. However, also adding video backgrounds to your website:
- Helps to draws people in
- Boosts engagement
- Increases the amount of time people spend on your site
- Encourages people to act on your call to action
Try putting video behind your header, or behind your initial content on your homepage. You also can experiment with placing video behind sections that need a little extra “pop” to make sure your visitors are seeing the content you want them to see.
5. Voice Search
For years computer users would find information by opening a browser, going to a search engine and typing a query. Today, with the popularity of Google Home, Amazon Echo and smartphones, voice search is growing at a rapid rate. In 2016, Google said 20 percent of mobile queries were voice searches. According to comScore, 50 percent of all searches will be voice searches by 2020.
Why is voice search on the rise? For one thing, speaking is faster than typing, so it’s just more convenient. Additionally, voice search is perfect for smartphones. Users are already speaking into their mobile devices for calls, and now they’re interacting with Siri and Google. Voice search is a natural extension of a user’s daily routine.
How does optimizing your website for voice differ from normal search engine optimization? Google tells us that 70 percent of searches on Google Assistant use natural language vs. keywords users type into search engines.
For example, if I wanted to know Oprah Winfrey’s age, I might say, “OK Google, how old is Oprah Winfrey?” But, if I was typing that query into a search engine, it might look more like, “Oprah age,” which is very different. If you translate that difference to the ways your customers might search for your own website, you can imagine how voice searches might differ from a typed search engine query.
EXAMPLE: Search for Oprah Winfrey’s age
Natural Language: How old is Oprah Winfrey?
Keywords: Oprah age
In addition to the syntax changes, location is also a factor. On a typical search, a user will put in a general search term. If the user had just moved to a new city, perhaps he or she would type in, from their home computer, “shoe store Milwaukee.” But with smartphones and voice search, a user might say, “Hey Siri, where is there a shoe store near me that’s open?”
EXAMPLE: Search for shoe store in new city
Natural Language: Where is there a shoe store near me that’s open?
Keywords: shoe store Milwaukee
There are an unlimited number of ways to customize your website and make it work for you and your business. It’s sometimes difficult to narrow down the functionality and design of your site to make it appeal to the majority of your audience. But, by implementing these website trends, you can be sure web users will continue to find and engage with you. Should you need some web design and development advice, Reputation Partners’ in-house web team is ready to work with you. Contact us today to get started!