What makes a good website?

People often ask us to explain what makes a good website? If we have a list of elements that a great site should have? There isn’t an easy, one-size-fits-all answer to this. As in many things SEO, the answer will be: it depends. What kind of site do you have, who do you target? What do you want to achieve? Regardless, in this post, I’ll list a number of elements that help every site become a good site and a better search result.

Holistic SEO

The number one thing you must keep in mind is that we at Yoast advocate holistic SEO. This means that we’d like you to strive to be the best result. We’d like you to optimize every part of your site on all levels, from satisfying user intent to offering a stellar user experience. If you combine all these things in a solid SEO strategy, implement the enhancements and track the results, you’re on the right track!

Elements of a good website

Many things we deem important for a good website is hard to quantify. There’s a lot of talk in SEO about quality, for instance. Even Google has been saying for years that you should focus on the quality of your site and that of your content. After every algorithmic update by Google, the answer for those who lost rankings is the same: it might not be your fault, because other sites seem to be a better fit for this specific query — nonetheless, you should work on the overall quality of your content

People flock to the Search Quality Raters Guidelines for input on how to do that, looking for any guidance at all. You shouldn’t take everything that Google says as gospel, but in this case, they are right; you should improve your content — always! Always look at user intent and the behavior of your potential customers. You should periodically redo your keyword research. Check your niche, what’s happening in your world?

By continually evaluating your SEO strategy, you get a grip on the changing market and find new opportunities.

Your website satisfies user intent and has a clear goal

Do you know your audience? Do you know your business and what it is you contribute to this world? Why should anyone come to your site and do business with you? It’s not just because you think you have an awesome product — that just doesn’t fly anymore. “Build it and they will come?” Nope, I don’t think so. 

If you’d like to succeed, you need to know your audience. You have to uncover everything about them. You can probably find out what they say they want, but is that the same as what they really need? Does your product or service merely offer a solution to a problem or does it make your customer’s life genuinely better? Do you sell a drill or a hole in the wall? 

Your story has to be right. It has to align with what people want and need. It means you should nail search intent for your site. Uncover all the different ways of how people can end up on your pages and tailor these to answer their questions. Map out the user journey from A to Z and place your content in strategic spots. Also keep a close eye on the way you formulate your answers — more often than not, a conversational style will turn out to be what you are looking for. 

Your website has technical prowess

A good website is easily crawlable and shows search engines what they can and can’t index. Good sites don’t have a huge amount of errors. A good website loads super fast, from anywhere in the world. Make sure you do everything you can to get those pages to loads as fast as possible.

Technical SEO is incredibly important, but you can get ahead of the curve by getting the basics right. Thoroughly think about which CMS you’re going for and how you’re going to run it. Pick a reputable hosting company — one that’s flexible and helpful. We may be a bit biased, but WordPress has given us everything we need. It’s solid, flexible and has a huge following. WordPress is pretty SEO-friendly, but with a bit of help of Yoast SEO you get your WordPress SEO going in no time. 

Your website is trustworthy, safe and secure

Both search engines and users are looking for signals that signify trust. Why should your site or your content be trusted? Regular downtime might point to sloppy maintenance. A missing green lock icon might mean you don’t take security seriously. There are a lot of little hints that they look for. 

Search engines like Google want to give searchers the best possible result. Increasingly, if a search engine doubts the claims you make or if you use sketchy ‘experts’ to validate your content, they will not show your content. They will pick a result that has proven to be a good result. That’s why you need to work on your trustworthiness on all levels, both technical as well as in content.

In addition, your site should be a safe haven for visitors. You need to have your security in order. A hacked site isn’t getting you anywhere! And a hacked site is easier to prevent than it is to fix. Use up-to-date software, have your SSL in order, make strong passwords, use tools such as Cloudflare to protect your site from DDoS attacks, et cetera. 

Your website has a great design and stellar UX

Does your website need to be beautiful? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The design of your website needs to help fulfill the goals you set. Your message should come across loud and clear. The design should be on-brand and well-thought-out. But more importantly, your site should be clear and easy to use for everyone. Accessibility is not something you should scrimp on. 

User experience is not only how it looks, but also how it feels. It’s about giving users a joyful experience, something they can remember. UX is also not letting users wait long for your pages to load, getting them frustrated because they can’t read the text on your site thanks to your color scheme or they can’t hit the buttons on your mobile site. How can I turn frustration into happiness? 

And happy user might just have higher buyer intent, so get those CTAs in order!

Your site has awesome, user-centered content

User-centered, not company-centered. Good content helps your users accomplish their goals and you offer this content at exactly the right moment, while keeping the business goals firmly in sight. To be able to do this, you need to know your user inside out, as I mentioned earlier. Understand them, understand their behavior and focus your content on that. The content you offer should be clear and easy to understand by using the same language the users knows well. Try to bring something unique to the table. Do research and present original reporting.

Your site is mobile-friendly (or rather, designed mobile-first)

2019 is the year mobile traffic blah blah, we know the score. Mobile is it. If your site is not mobile-friendly by now, well, you know, it should, so get to it. But if your site has been mobile-friendly for a while, it is time to start looking at building your next site mobile-first

It’s not a new concept or anything, but most sites are still being developed desktop-first. After designing the desktop view, designer crams it down to mobile size, often losing its authenticity and freshness along the way. Adopting a mobile-first mindset helps you focus on the tasks users should be able to do on your mobile site. It helps to clean up the clutter and, more often than not, lets you come up with a minimal and fully focused design. Less is more, remember? 

Your site can ‘talk’ directly to search engines

For years, search engines tried to read content on pages to determine what that page is about. They need that content to be able to match the search query with the indexed pages that give the best answers to this query. Turns out that truly understanding what something on a page is or means, is harder than it seems, especially for machines. Search engines need a little guidance to discover the true meaning of elements on a page. Enter, structured data in Schema format

Schema is kind of like a translator for search engines. It describes elements on a page, so search engines can now say with certainty that a review is a review and a recipe. In return, because Google is so certain about the content, marking up these elements can lead to rich results in the search results pages. This includes carousels, nutritional information for recipes, star ratings, FAQ dropdowns, swipeable How-To boxes on mobile and much, much more. Structured data is one of the areas search engines spend a lot of resources on these days, so pay attention.

We noticed this and built a complete and fully extendable Schema framework inside Yoast SEO. This structured data implementation builds a complete graph for your site, so search engines not only know what everything means but also how everything is connected to the bigger picture. Find out more in our Schema documentation

So what makes a good website?

There’s a lot that goes into building a good website. It’s not simply buying a domain, getting some random host, installing WordPress and picking a theme that looks cool. That’s setting yourself up for failure. You need to plan to get things right. You need a strategy — maybe that’s the most important element of a good website.

These are some of the most important elements you should focus on while developing of improving your site. This is not an exhaustive list, so I’d like to ask you:

What is your number one focal point for building a good website?

Read more: 4 tips to quickly improve your site in the current situation »

30 Responses to What makes a good website?

  1. Henry
    Henry  • 2 years ago

    Nice article! It was straight to the point without the fluff.

    All those elements can be well optimized by using Yoast SEO. I am having a good experience with Yoast.

    I would like to add website loading speed and server uptime also in the elements.

    A good website MUST have a good hosting also to perform better. Am I right?

    Keep up the good work.

    All the best!

  2. Franz Reinthaler
    Franz Reinthaler  • 2 years ago

    its a very intresting article. I optimize all my webpages with your SEO plugin and get good ranking without spending money

  3. Karan Singh
    Karan Singh  • 2 years ago

    What are the easiest way for off page optimization of the website with low cost ?

  4. maheswaraiah
    maheswaraiah  • 2 years ago

    A great article!Thanks for this thorough information, Edwin! There’s always so much more to do and I like how your blog is divided into subheadings that I can run down like a checklist. Thanks again! :)

    • Edwin Toonen

      You’re welcome!

  5. Adimpact
    Adimpact  • 2 years ago

    Thanks for the thorough information!

    I’d like to pick as the #1 choice “Your website satisfies user intent and has a clear goal”. For every website should consider the end goal of user satisfaction and experience that answers their queries. For some websites, cater the wrong information that eventually leads their audience away and never come back again.

    • Edwin Toonen

      Yep! You’re doing it wrong if you don’t have an audience or target the wrong audience.

  6. Jvalin
    Jvalin  • 2 years ago

    All texts and no image examples…feel boring to read.

    Yoast next time please if you post something use image examples.

    • Edwin Toonen

      Thanks for your feedback, Jvalin, I will keep that in mind. I’ll try to find some time to update the article with some screenshots.

  7. Jay Holtslander
    Jay Holtslander  • 2 years ago

    >It’s not simply buying a domain, getting some random host,
    >installing WordPress and picking a theme that looks cool.
    >That’s setting yourself up for failure.

    Key takeaway that makes this article worth saving and sharing.

    • Edwin Toonen

      Thanks for sharing, Jay!

  8. ponad
    ponad  • 2 years ago

    A great article! Anyway, the whole YOAST is a great SEO tool.
    I use it and I am very happy!

    • Edwin Toonen

      Great to hear, Ponad!

  9. Kimani Macharia
    Kimani Macharia  • 2 years ago

    Good points. I’m always conflicted between a simple and minimal website with a quick scroll and a “beautiful” website that has a long scroll. I feel with the beautiful website, users can easily get overwhelmed with information, colour and scrolling. Does that affect SEO even if you have lots of content in it?

    • Edwin Toonen

      That is user experience, Kimani, and it definitely influences SEO. Users behave differently on every page, so you can’t make direct comparison. Sites that go for “beautiful” often do so with a reason — or at least I hope they have a reason. For most sites, simple and easy is probably a better fit.

  10. Obinna Agwuh
    Obinna Agwuh  • 2 years ago

    I still feel that running a successful website is not easy. Its tiring and sometimes i feel like not doing it anymore… probably because i am not getting paid what i deserve.

    • Edwin Toonen

      Hi Obinna. It is hard work, you are right. If you can seem to get a grip on things anymore, try to focus on smaller goals. These are often easier to reach and will give you a nice feeling of success once you reach that goal. Keep it up!

  11. Angelina
    Angelina  • 2 years ago

    Content quality, ranking, timely operations according to google update, following proper SEO rules, reducing bounce rate by providing good user experience to your site after they visit once, interactive idea presentation and many such parameters are there that build up a good website.

    Great Article Edwin!!

    • Edwin Toonen

      Good list, Angelina, although I wouldn’t worry too much about each and every Google update. It’s easy to become obsessed by all the moves Google makes, but often it doesn’t amount to much for the average site owner. Do your best, and be the best.

  12. Raj
    Raj  • 2 years ago

    Does Schema – rich snippets makes a good website? Is it one of factor google considers to rank a website?

    I use Yoast SEO plugin on my website, but when I test schema, I’m getting Image not found error in the article section. Could you please help with this?

    • Edwin Toonen

      Hi Raj. Schema helps, because it makes your site easier to understand for search engines. It’s not a ranking factor per se, but we’re seeing verticals — like recipes, for instance — where ranking without valid structured data is getting harder, if not impossible.

      Where do you say this error happens? Have link to an article maybe?

  13. Kelly
    Kelly  • 2 years ago

    Thanks for this thorough information, Edwin! There’s always so much more to do and I like how your blog is divided into subheadings that I can run down like a checklist. Thanks again! :)

    • Edwin Toonen

      Hi Kelly. Yep, there’s always stuff to improve. Sometimes it may feel as overwhelming, but just keep in mind that you don’t have to do everything at once. Focus is key.

  14. Jennifer Lee
    Jennifer Lee  • 2 years ago

    i love this post… thank you yoast for the update via Email.

    • Edwin Toonen

      You’re welcome, Jennifer!

  15. Anmol Mathneja
    Anmol Mathneja  • 2 years ago

    I have been using Yoast SEO on many websites as WordPress Developer. Now using it on my website too. Thanks, Yoast

    • Edwin Toonen

      Awesome, Anmol. Keep it up!

  16. Jason Pelish
    Jason Pelish  • 2 years ago

    A great website does business for you.
    It does the work that you would have otherwise had to do.
    It attracts new business.
    It creates new customers.
    It sells.
    It provides positive experiences and creates loyalties.
    It makes visitors return and do it all over again.

    If it isn’t doing that, it should.

    • Edwin Toonen

      Great points, Jason! You’re absolutely right.