Blog: Web Design
Three legged Stool

The Three Legs of the SEO Table

Avatar for John Locke

John Locke is a SEO consultant from Sacramento, CA. He helps manufacturing businesses rank higher through his web agency, Lockedown SEO.

You’ve heard it said, “it takes three legs to make a table stand”.

Similarly, your website, your most important marketing asset, also takes three legs to stand.

The three legs I’m talking about are content, link profile, and overall design and UX.

Much as a table lays flush with three legs, your website needs these three pillars to properly support your marketing efforts.

If you prefer to watch a video on these three pillars of SEO, you can watch here.

The First Leg: Well-Planned Site Content

The content on a website is the information that your customers come to find. Sadly enough, many web agencies do not gather content early in the design process, and often leave it for the week before launch.

Most often in a web project, you will see placeholder text, aka lorem ipsum or gibberish text, used throughout the design flow. Ugh. This is utterly broken as the process.

We should be working on the content first, during, and even post-launch. The greatest design in the world means nothing if you don’t have the right content on the website.

With SEO, what matters more than any other factor is having the highest quality content on that specific subject. If you want to rank #1 for a certain topic, you must have a page that covers that information, or solves that customer problem better than every other page on the web for that topic.

Content planning needs to be one of the first steps in designing your website, not an afterthought.

While design plays an important role, no one comes to a website to look at the design unless they’re another web designer.

The first thing that you should be focusing on in a website redesign is what are you going to put on each page. This includes doing a content audit of your website, looking at what needs to be on your site, and developing a content strategy and publishing calendar to fill the content gap.

A Robust Link Profile is the Second Leg

Google has been saying since 2008 that they want to rank big brands.

One of the hallmark characteristics of a large brand is receiving links from trusted sites with a lot of authority.

A site that is publishing great content on a regular basis and is a prominent brand in their industry should receive links from well-respected sites in their industry. Small brands with no authority will not receive the same attention or earn those same links.

Foundational links that any brand should have are: profiles on all the popular social media platforms and third-party profiles in their industry where similar businesses get leads.

What you want to establish is a strong link profile, with prominent local and national publications and colleagues linking to your site.

When categorically-related websites and prominent news and business websites link to your site, Google sees that as a sign that your website is authoritative. Links have always been an important part of SEO, and that will not change anytime in the foreseeable future.

The Third Leg of the Table is Design and UX

If your website is a table, the second leg holding it up is the design. Design is important to SEO, and here’s why.

Let’s say your customer looks at two sites with the exact same content. One site is aesthetically pleasing, and the other one looks like it’s straight out of the 1990s. Which one is going to be the one that they trust more? In every single case, it’s going to be the one that looks more up-to-date. Why? Because good design is a signal for high quality.

Design is there to accentuate the message you are broadcasting. The purpose of design is to amplify the message that the content is bringing. It is a component that helps tell your story and distinguish you from your competitors.

Design is there to help tell the story, not be the story itself.

When all other factors are equal, a well-designed site is generally going to outperform a poorly-designed site.

If design is how it works, not how it looks, than part of how it works is establishing trust. Perception is reality. How people perceive your brand is part of your overall SEO.

Can there be exceptions to this rule? Of course, look at Craigslist. It doesn’t have the world’s greatest visual design. It will never win design awards, but it’s one of the top 10 sites in the world for a good reason. Craigslist gives people what they want very quickly.

For the rest of us, we need to have a website that reflects the quality that our products deliver. That means you need good design.

Speed is one factor of user experience and SEO that cannot be ignored. Inefficient coding makes a site load slow, while fast loading pages convert customers at a higher rate and rank higher in search.

Google recommends that your HTTP load time be less than 2 to 3 seconds. A one-second delay in page load time decreases conversions by 7%. But the average e-commerce page loads in 7 seconds, while customers expect a web page to load in three seconds.

The longer it takes for a page to load, the less likely your customers will stick around. Time on site and bounce rate are metrics that Google measures to help determine whether a page should go up or down in the search rankings.

Are The Three Legs of Your Website Solid?

Like a table needs three legs to be stable and solid, so your website needs insightful content, a strong link profile, and aesthetically pleasing design. Having all three of these components will help you have a successful, well-ranking site that gets targeted traffic from your ideal customers.

Avatar for John Locke

John Locke is a SEO consultant from Sacramento, CA. He helps manufacturing businesses rank higher through his web agency, Lockedown SEO.

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