By January 8, 2013 Read More →

Your website – the role of colors in SEO

Work from Home Wisdom - SEO and colours for your websiteToday’s guest post is from Emma-Julie Fox of Pitstop Media, a Vancouver based SEO company, and looks at the crucial role played by colour in your website.

Part of designing a website is choosing a universal color scheme that will be applied on all the pages of the site. First impressions are very important, especially since websites are perceived visually.

Webmasters also have to consider that it is so easy for Internet users to open and close a web browser. In other words users can easily and quickly shut down your website if it doesn’t pass their standards during the brief few seconds they look it over.

Many people don’t consider the look and feel of the page as part of SEO. However, the truth is that time on page/site, SERP (Search Engine Results Page) bounce rate and load time are all ranking signals nowadays. And how do you influence the decision to engage further past a SERP click? Given you have only a few seconds to impress, most influence comes from the look and feel of the page, rather than content itself.

That’s the reality that web designers and SEOs have to deal with, and a challenge for any leading SEO company. How can they make their SEOs work if visitors won’t even stay for more than a few seconds? It is therefore important that visitors’ average time on page is increased. One way to do that is to improve the aesthetics of your website—and color plays a very important role in that.

But aside from making your website look attractive, there are other reasons why colors are very important. Here are three of them.

  • Color can affect your audience’s reception of your website.
  • This is not just referring to the visual appeal of your website at first glance. This is also about the perception of a visitor based on his cultural background.

    Green, for example, is the national symbolic color for Ireland. Closely related to that is one of the US’s perception of green, which is for St. Patrick’s Day. For Arab countries, however, it is actually the color symbol for Islam.

    China takes that color to another level, using green hats to signify exorcism and infidelity of a wife. Check out this Infographic entitled Colours in Culture for more examples.

    Depending on the nature, purpose, and target audience of your website, you can use colors to elicit the reaction you would want your visitors to have when they view your website.

    The psychological undertones of color schemes also contribute to or take away the appeal of a web page. Everyone’s probably aware of some of the symbolisms behind certain colors, like red being the symbol of anger (which therefore incites passionate emotion).

    White is the color of serenity and quiet, and green is the color of nature, making for a cool and fresh ambience. It may a bit corny, but this might actually be useful if you want to create a certain mood for your site.

  • The look and feel of a page can influence where users click.
  • Directly related to the aesthetics of a website is its usability. For example, color plays a huge role in determining which part of a text is actually a link.

    Work from Home Wisdom - links and colour
    Text links/anchor texts are usually in color blue to distinguish them from the rest of the accompanying text. Image source pitstopmedia.com

    The distinction of text links make it easier for readers to find out if certain keywords or terms lead to other websites or internal pages where they can find more information about them. This also makes it easier for search engines to distinguish which and how many links are in a webpage.

    It also helps users if you assign another color for clicked links. Most of the time, like in Google search engine results pages, the clicked links turn to purple. This simple change makes it easier for users to determine which parts they have already covered, especially if there are several links (eg. a list of references for a blog post) in one page.

    Colors also make navigation easier. Some websites have a universal color theme, so it’s easy for users to figure out a website and how it’s structured. Large websites with different categories can assign a different background color or scheme for each one so that visitors will immediately know where they currently are. This is rarely done in company websites, but it works for book review sites and the like.

    You can also use colors to prompt visitors with reminders. If you want them to fill out a form, for example, you can post reminders like, “This is a required field” in red.

    Work from Home Wisdom - colours and forms
    The red font stands out and delivers the instruction right away. Image source http://www.championinternet.com/psf/requiredfields.gif

    Similarly, assigning colors in forms helps make sure that users don’t miss out a question.

    Work from Home Wisdom - colours and fields
    Different colors are used for requested fields and the reminders are italicized. Image source
    http://universalusability.com/access_by_design/figures/color/11.3.gif

    So you see, the usefulness of colors is not limited to the background or for the beautification of a site. It is also valuable for improving navigation and overall user experience.

  • Color may affect how search engines perceive your content.
  • Many people have argued about how search engines “see” content. Does text font and color really matter? Logically, crawlers are not humans beings who can judge the user friendliness of a website based on the color of its text in contrast with its background.

    After all, the bots will only “see” the indicators in the HTML code. The crawlers will know that there’s a link because of the Google Webmaster Guidelines and reviewed the practices that the search engines consider to be webspam and that are therefore forbidden. One of the items listed there is Hidden Text or Links.

    Using the same color for text and background may be considered as a violation of the Webmaster Guidelines. Google considers hidden text to be deceptive, and anything deceptive in nature can in turn be interpreted as webspam. Even if your website will not get penalized for that, it will still get low points for user friendliness.

    Google uses certain metrics to ascertain user satisfaction. Time on page and time on site are sure to be some of those metrics. Why would users stay for only 5-10 seconds on your page if they are satisfied with its content and navigation? People will not make themselves work hard to read your barely-decipherable content if there are other websites whose contents are easier to read.

Don’t be complacent in designing your website, especially when it comes to selecting color schemes. This is not a minor detail, as people in marketing will surely tell you—and, hopefully, as this article has shown you as well.

Emma-Julie Fox writes for Pitstop Media, a Vancouver based SEO company. Pitstop Media has been helping businesses across North America successfully increase their search visibility. If you want to invite the author to guest post on your blog please contact www.pitstopmedia.com

Posted in: Technology

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