BrowseRank Strategies – Quality Web Site Design

A few days ago I reported on how BrowseRank goes beyond PageRank to rank websites according to user behavior.  Modern search engines tend to rank websites by relevancy and importance, and of course their algorithms can be gamed.  The concept of BrowseRank, which I have been mentioning to clients already for two years, would add a third and almost more important measurement – usefulness.  This, too, can be gamed.  However, most of the gaming would also work to your visitor’s advantage, so the Web will be a better place for it. 

In preparation for BrowseRank and perhaps other search engine measures of website usefulness, this is the first in a series of posts that will help you make your website appear useful in the eyes of the search engines.  You will probably find that these are things you should be doing anyway to increase conversions and profits, but that is not my area of expertise, so here we will look at them from an SEO perspective.

STRATEGY #1 – Design a website that says “Quality” the minute a visitor lands there.

This might seem soooooo obvious, but it needs to be said.  As obvious as it might seem, I come daily across dozens of websites that say “Amateur” or “Crap”.  Here are a few tips to make your website look like a professional website that can be trusted.

  1. Get a professional design that looks at least somewhat modern and in a style that suits your products and target audience.
  2. Lose the square corners.  Some corners are OK, but if your design is based on boxes, it looks like a basement job.
  3. No Adsense-type ads.  Yuck! Honestly, that is the biggest sign of a low-quality website.  A run of Adsense across the bottom is not bad, but the more prominent the PPC ads the cheaper the site appears.  By the way, ads are OK.  The more they look like content or part of the website, the better.  Adsense style ads just look cheap.
  4. Keep it clean.  Clutter looks as bad on a website as it looks here on my desk.  (But I don’t have a webcam to display this disaster to the world, so don’t display a mess on your website!)
  5. Make sure your web pages look good in various browsers and in various screen resolutions.  If 70% of people see a superb website and the other 30% see garbled images and text, they will bounce back to the search engine … which tells the engine that your website is not very useful (and it isn’t if it can’t easily be read by 30% of searchers).
  6. Make sure your website is available, which means good hosting.  I am never shy about recommending Phastnet web hosting.  This blog is hosted there and I have been migrating my sites to them over the years because of the five-star service I get when I need it.
  7. Make sure your code is working properly.  Seeing a PHP error makes the site look broken.  I don’t buy from someone who might be selling me broken goods.
  8. Avoid overly flashy design.  If your visuals call attention to themselves and distract from your message, you will lose people.
  9. Avoid automatic audio playing.  I can guarantee you that 99% of people browsing from a cubicle, as well as others in shared space, will zip back to the search engine in no time flat.  That sends a pretty bad signal to the search engines.
  10. Nix the cover page, especially one that shows a slide show on start-up.  And if you think people can easily scroll to the bottom to click the “skip intro”, it’s easier still to click the “back” button and choose a new website that does not place a barrier to its visitors.

Those are my top 10 web design tips for helping visitors see quality in your website.  Please feel free to add to this list in the comments below. Following these tips is not enough to make them stay on your website, but at least they won’t leave because the design scares them away.  In future “episodes”, I will share with you some additional strategies to help the search engines view your website as “useful”.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that we have some top quality SEO web designers on our team.  🙂 


  1. Great 10 tips. It’s surprising how most all of the tips are very common practices/mistakes. You always need to be working at pulling people deeper into your site.

  2. WOW..what an excellent blog; very informative, to the point and well written blog. I saved it for future reference.

    According to my knowledge, more than 40% of the website owners don’t even know what the SEO solution really is and among those only 10% of people are getting full benefits of SEO.

    These tips are really good for such people. Thanks for a great post 🙂

  3. Great tips. I agree with your opinions of adsense making a site look like a “basement job”. I rarely linger on websites covered in ads. Thanks for this wonderful tips!

  4. Quite an interesting read indeed. I think I now need to take a look at my websites to ensure they comply to these tips 🙂

    Are affiliate-type advertisements better than Adsense then? Or some other solution in itself…

    Thanks for the informative post.


  5. Interesting question about affiliate links. Let me make it clear that I am not hitting on Google. There are other similar services – their names just don’t come to mind. These ads just look cheap and detract from the overall message of a website. On the other hand, if your website sells gardening tools and you show a picture of a gardening tips book with “Recommended read” above it, that will more likely look like good content — something that enhances the look and perceived usefulness of the website.

  6. Yes, All the tips are very necessory to boost the traffic to the website as every site should be SEO friendly as well as user friendly. It should attract a user so that he/she will stay to your site and will return next time also

  7. I totally agree with your thoughts here…

    Do you know what I’m hated the most, when I visits a site? The never ending flash loading and the annoying background music! Thus, if you want more returning visitors, then you must first get these two things away from your site!

  8. Very good points, thank you. I think that adsense can jeopardize a sites view of quality.

  9. Here’s a tip for ya: put different sites on different web hosts. That way if one host has a server crash, you have less work to get them set up again.

    Some good, inexpensive hosts:

  10. Really important tips, specially for those who developed new web design can help them boosting site traffic & for people who really don’t know what SEO is.

  11. you really have mentioned great point many developers just ignore this things. now when i read this blog of your at least now i am not going to commit mistakes as such. Thank you very much for the valuable blog. (:

  12. You make some great points. I particularly agree with you on the importance of having a good web hosting provider as well as a site that loads properly on all browsers. You should not look to just run on IE – Firefox, Safari, and Chrome are important browsers with more and more users starting to switch over. This is a wonderful post.

  13. Avoid automatic audio playing

    Ack! I grit my teeth every time I hit a blog with music that I have to FIND … Glitter/bling graphics are a close second! Great list!

  14. I huge reason I love using Dreamweaver, is because you can test run your site through many different browsers before actually uploading it to your server. I scarcely worry about making things compatible for Safari – but because it’s so similar to Firefox, it tends to work out anyway.

  15. First of all the site should provide great contents about the matter it is designed for. Next step is its loading speed. then come its navigation (should be easy) the SEO & finally the look and feel.

    Some of the sites looks very good from graphics point of view but come to end with Server Timeout Error. So loading speed should also be considered while designing a site for heavy traffic.

  16. Good post. Kind of hard trying to convince people of no Adsense-type ads. But I do believe in blending those ads into the page. Also keeping to no more than 1 well blended block that isn’t distracting. Also I will never understand why people insist on cover pages. It’s such a waste of bandwidth. Keep up with the great content and articles!

  17. Great tips, It is looking nice to get all 10 tips in a blog. Keep sharing this type of tips.

  18. i disagree about the adsense adds, if you blend the adds and they look like part of the site you will earn money and not put off visitors.

  19. Thanks! I thought I had a good website until you just spoiled it with the 'no square corners' and the 'no adsense'. Oh…and the modern design…i'm not looking anymore. I'll take 7/10 and run!

  20. I get lazy when writing content. I hope these tips can get me on track! I agree with each one of them. One more tips are: try to use good headings and bullets for good structuring of content.

  21. BrowseRank is mainly assessing the quality of the webpage… BrowseRank not only monitors traffic arriving via links, but also has the ability to monitor direct traffic visits via bookmarks or URLs that are typed in the Address Bar….

  22. This post has really caused me to think about several new issues in our world. Thanks for causing others to think.