What makes a good website that both search engines and users like? Are there any special characteristics that can help you differentiate your website from the rest?
The simple answer is yes, there are some elements that every good website needs to have and this is exactly what you’ll learn in this post.
What is a good website?
A good website is one that satisfies these three objectives:
- It keeps users happy (user intent)
- It gives search engines what they want
- It generates traffic/conversions/ leads to the business owner.
To satisfy all objectives, a website needs to have some special qualities that differentiate them from the other websites that are competing for the same topics.
7 Key Elements of a Good Website
Let’s see below what are the 7 characteristics that make good websites stand out from the rest.
- A good website has great content
- A good website is SEO optimized
- A good website is trusted by users
- A good website is optimized for mobile
- A good website loads fast
- A good website demonstrates E-A-T and Wins the Social Proof Game
- A good website is referenced by other good sites
#1 – A good website has great content
Great content is the foundation of every good website. Google and other search engines have become very good in surfacing websites with high-quality content and this means that if your content is not good, you cannot survive online.
When we talk about good content we don’t mean any type of content but content that users want to read.
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This is a critical success factor. Once users land on your site from Google or other sources, you can tell if they like your content by looking at your Google analytics reports and analyzing metrics like:
- time on site
- bounce rate
- exit rate
- average session duration
If these numbers are good, and if there is interaction with your content in the form of comments, social media shares, and backlinks, then this is a good signal that your content satisfies the user intent.
If none of the above is true, then you should go back to the drawing board and re-think your content strategy.
The following guides will help you create high-quality content:
- What is thin content and how to fix it
- How to write SEO friendly blog posts
- What is SEO friendly content
#2 – A good website is SEO optimized
You can create awesome content, that’s great but what’s next? You need to make sure that Google can read and understand what your website and content are all about.
The idea is simple: the more information you can give to search engines in a way they can understand it (that’s also a very simplified definition of SEO), the greater are your chances of achieving higher rankings.
SEO optimized websites provide a great user experience because they are easy to use, accessible and well-structured and this combination makes them great websites.
The following guides will help create SEO optimized websites:
- What is SEO Content?
- The complete SEO checklist
- What is SEO friendly web design
- How to optimize your site structure
- Best SEO Tips for beginners
#3 – A good website is trusted by users
Gaining user trust is an important success factor because even if you manage to win Google trust you still need to win user trust as well.
User trust has to do with the quality of the content but also it relates to treating your users with respect.
You respect your users by providing them with accurate information that is easy to access without trying to trick them into clicking ads.
User trust is about making sure that any information they share with you is secure and private and not shared with marketing companies without their concern.
User trust is about making sure that any information downloaded from your website will not inject their devices with malware.
When you manage to convince users that you are trying to provide them with a great experience then you just made a big step in having a fantastic website with additional benefits. Users that trust a website will:
- Share your content on social media.
- Mention your website in their posts.
- Are more likely to become loyal readers.
- Are more likely to convert into customers (if you are selling a product or service).
#4 – A good website is optimized for mobile
The vast majority of people are using their mobile devices to start or continue a search and it is more than necessary to have a website that is optimized for mobile.
Google added mobile-friendliness as a search engine ranking factor so failing to provide your users will a mobile-friendly website will damage your Google rankings.
Have in mind that a mobile-friendly website is not the same as a mobile-optimized website.
Having a responsive website that shows on mobile without scroll bars is the first step but it’s not enough.
You need to pay special attention to how users interact with your website on mobile and make sure that they can find what they want fast and easy.
#5 – A good website loads fast
Website speed is directly related to SEO, usability and user trust. Neither users or search engines want to visit a website that takes too long to load. Slow websites have lower Google rankings and offer a bad experience to users.
According to Google, a website is considered slow if it loads in less than 2.5 seconds on mobile. This is a target that is very difficult to achieve but the closer you can get to this number, the better.
What kind of website do you like to visit, a slow loading website full of graphics or a fast website with a more careful approach to the use of multimedia elements?
The answer is obvious so try to take this into account when building your website.
#6 – A good website demonstrates E-A-T and Wins the Social Proof Game
Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness are three elements that started gaining ground in SEO that last few months.
Google has stated clearly that good websites are those that demonstrate high levels of E-A-T and this is the kind of websites that they want to show in their search results.
In simple terms, E-A-T has to do about the quality of the content, the credibility of the content author and the trustworthiness of the website as a whole.
For Google, a good website is one that has content written by experts on the topic.
Experts prove their expertise not just through their academic credentials or experience but on the reputation they have online and how they are perceived by other experts and good websites.
In other words, you can no longer pretend to be an expert on a topic but you have to prove it too.
All the elements of a good website explained in this post, have a big role to play in helping a website demonstrate high levels of E-A-T.
You can learn more about E-A-T by reading the Search Quality Rater Guidelines document.
In today’s competitive online world and with the rise of social media networks, it is imperative that you win the social media game too.
A good website it’s easier to get shared in social networks and social acceptability (likes, shares, followers) proves that it’s a great website.
Unfortunately, social success won’t happen overnight and won’t happen without effort. You need to have a plan and a social media strategy that will promote your website in the social networks and bring it in front of the right users.
It’s not enough to say that you have a good website but other people need to agree by liking, sharing and following your website.
#7 – A good website is referenced by other good sites
It is normal to have many websites that meet the criteria explained above but how do search engines decide which websites to show on the first page of the results?
The answer is in the number and type of references (links) a website has compared to the rest.
A website that has backlinks from other websites has a clear advantage over websites that don’t have any references from other websites.
Over the years people have tried to manipulate this by generating thousands of unnatural links in order to gain better rankings but search engines, especially Google, have become ‘clever’ enough in differentiating between quality links and spammy links.
A quality link that can help you with rankings is one that is coming from other good and trusted websites.
It’s a huge topic to analyze, but the takeaway is that to differentiate your website from other websites, you need to have more incoming links (both in quality and quantity) than the other sites competing for the same keywords.
It’s the same story as with the social proof game: A good website is more likely to attract incoming links that will strengthen its rankings and a high-ranking website is considered by both users and search engines as a good website.
A good website takes time and a LOT of work
When you ask Google why a website doesn’t have high rankings, they will tell you to follow the rules I explained above and to also keep providing a good experience for your users.
While this is a cliché, it’s the hard truth and the reason is simple. There are thousands of websites competing for a position on the first page of the search results for any given keyword.
The ones that survive in the end are those that keep improving and becoming better over time.
When I first started, It took me years to get my first website on the top positions of Google and get organic traffic and before that, I had to spend endless hours figuring out how to do it.
Take for example any successful website or blogger on the Internet, what do they have in common?
Many years of blogging and websites that have a lot of great content with thousands of incoming links.
Is this something that you can create in a few months? Certainly not BUT if you do consistent work over a period of time you will see that gradually things change and everything becomes easier.
What makes a good website is not the design alone but other elements which include the content, usability, SEO, social media, links, and trust.
As a first step, you need to ensure that you have a good score on all these factors and as a second step to keep working until you convince everyone (crawlers and users) that you have a good website that deserves high rankings.
Creating a great website is not easy but it’s not impossible either.