Does Website Content Trump Web Design?


Believe it or not, the answer may surprise you. Google has been changing their ranking algorithm to favor content more and more.In this video, Eric explains the mistakes most web designers make when building websites. He lists the essential areas of content that MUST be present for your site to show up in the search engines.

He also shows you how you can strike a balance between content and design.


Note from Eric: Below, you will find a word-for-word transcript of this video. I provide this as an aid for the hearing-impaired and for those who might just want to read it rather than watch the video. This conversational style is not reflective of how I write. Be nice! Hey I am Eric Spellmann with EricSpellmann.com. And today we’re going to be talking about website content. I get asked all the time what’s more important, the way a site looks or what’s on it? Well, I’ll be honest. Things have changed. I now believe that what’s on a website is just as important if not maybe a little bit more important than how it looks. Remember it all has to go back to your goals for a website.

Google has changed. In other words the way they rank sites, the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that we were talking about here. Google has changed in what they consider is important. It’s all about content! And when I say content, I mean text. It’s all about what you’ve written. Google is looking at the text. Remember those little searchbots, those little spiderbots they only look at the text, they only understand text.

One of the things I’m discovering, as I do a whole bunch of testing from a search engine optimization standpoint is that a whole bunch of ugly websites are now starting to show up above the pretty ones.

And it’s because of that content thing. Google is putting more precedence on the words that are on the site. And so, some sites that are just full and full and full of text, are starting to do a little better than some of the prettier sites.

The key is fresh, unique content. Google looks at 2 things. Number 1, is the content unique? In other words is it nowhere else on the internet? If you go out there and copy someone else’s content and put it on your site and even if it’s legal for you to do that.

If Google sees that the same paragraph is here on your page and it’s also on 20 other pages on the internet, you get no value for that. Only one Google sees that you are the only one with that content, do you get all of this incredible credit from Google. Also, Google looks at how often you update your site.

So if you just put up your website and you put a tonne of content on there, and you do nothing for a year, Google is going to penalize you for that. They send out their little spider bots at you once a week for a while to see if you change, and if they see you’re not changing after once a week, they will change their schedule to maybe once a month.

And they will continue to adjust that schedule as they learn how often you update your site.

So does that mean web design is dead? Does that mean we all need to go out and make ugly websites? NO! Your site must be national quality. Not for Google, but for people! You see the colors, the navigation, layout, graphics it all counts from the users’ standpoint.

When people go to your website, you still want to convert them from an anonymous looker to a customer, to a lead, to a sale. That is your goal. And you’re not going to do that if your website looks like it was designed by a 12 year old. So even though coming up in Google is important. I can make the most ugly site in the world full of the best text and it would be number 1 on Google for a whole bunch of phrases, but if people get there and are like too overwhelmed and they leave.

What good is that? Being number 1 is no good if you get no conversions. So you’ve got to have a balance. You’ve got to have enough text on there to attract the search engine spider bots to rank well. But you have to have it designed well enough so that you lower the trust barrier and encourage people to click on your calls to action, to fill out those forms, to do what you want them to do.

So, what do I do? What exactly do you do? First, get rid of Flash. Some of you still have Adobe Flash on your website. And all you have to do is to right-click on something animated and if you see the word Flash somewhere on there, you have Flash. Remember, Google doesn’t understand Flash! And so you get no benefit from that.

Really, at this point we can’t just have graphic-only sites. Back in the day, some people had big, beautiful visual artistic websites. But guess what? Google can’t even see them. They don’t show up. So you can have the most beautiful site in the world but if Google can’t see em, what’s the point?

Add a blog. That’s an easy way if you already have an existing site, if you want to add some text to it, add a blog to it. Call your web designer and say “Hey I want to blog.” But then, you need to blog.

You need to actually add new content, may be every week so that Google starts to see you as relevant. Add text pages, just brand new pages to your site. And update regularly!

I am Eric Spellmann with Spellmann & Associates; I’ll see you in cyberspace.