the early days, keyword stuffing and low-level link building were all the
Marketers were blindsighted. Ranking at the top of Google was the goal, and user experience simply didn’t matter.
Because getting to the top of Google was like gold dust. It positioned you ahead of the competition and meant that your site got a ton of traffic. The fact that half of that traffic didn’t convert was of little relevance. More traffic equates to more power and control over the search engines.
We have come a long, long way since those early days. Google is all about giving searchers what they want. And what searchers want is a seamless user experience. You will now be rewarded if you deliver on your customer’s expectations. By ‘rewarded,’ we’re talking about a rankings boost.
SEO is still important.
So, you’re telling me to scrap SEO? Oh, no!
Search engines still need to be able to find, crawl and rank your website. Therefore, using keywords and synonyms to illustrate what your pages are about is essential. Google’s bots are text readers and don’t understand images in the way we do. Therefore, using alt text to describe your images and renaming your files will improve relevancy. You may even rank in the image search results.
Search engines are getting smarter.
As search engines have developed, they are not only looking at your optimisation strategies but also how people react to your website (user experience). As well as having a website that is optimised for search engines, it also needs optimising for humans. After all, they will be the ones who hopefully purchase from you.
If your website doesn’t do what they expect, they are likely to leave and not return. This is often the case for websites that are optimised for the wrong keywords. For example, a site optimised for ‘dress alterations’ will be expected to offer information on all dress alterations services. However, if the content only talks about ‘wedding dress alterations’, you will lose traffic from people who clicked who are not getting married. You need to match visitor expectations.
Be conscious of bounce rate.
Search engines can measure the popularity of content through metrics like bounce rate, time on page and users. If people enter your site and don’t find what they are looking for straight away, they are likely to exit. This is what’s referred to as a bounce.
Some marketers will neglect this metric, so long as they are seeing a respectable return on investment. Not only is this going to harm your conversion in the long run, as people won’t return to your site, but it can cause you to drop in the search results.
Google likes sites that are popular and get lots of traffic. A site that is not getting regular visits will experience a drop in the search results. User experience is indirectly a ranking factor, so it’s something to keep in mind.
How do I improve user experience?
Making user experience and SEO work together is the end goal. Accounting for both will help improve your rankings and conversions.
Designing a perfect user experience involves finding potential problems that people might have.
Here are common ways to improve user experience:
1) Speed up your site.
One of the biggest frustrations for people when clicking on a website is slow loading. With the rise of mobile browsing, people are accessing the internet in all kinds of places. On-the-go on their way to work or sat at home on the sofa. They expect results to come fast and without disruption. If they don’t get it, that can result in a bounce.
Google now considers site speed as a ranking factor, so take note. There are plenty of free tools used to help check your site speed, such as Pingdom Tools. This is a personal favourite as it offers suggestions on how to improve, as well as a site speed ranking.
2) Include well-designed headings.
No one likes to read a long page of text. Using headings, as well as images and videos, will break up your content and make it easier to digest.
Don’t forget to optimise your headings with keywords. Search engines typically give more weight to headings, so getting this right is a sure-fire way to stand out and improve your search visibility. Include your focus keyword in your H1 and H4. Reserve your H2’s and H3’s for synonyms and secondary keywords. This is a great example of a website that uses headings to break up text and guide Google. As you can see, the headings stand out in size and colour and quickly describe what content is to follow. You’ll also notice a green button above the fold of the page. This is another tactic used to break up content and encourage sign-ups.
3) Eliminate 404 errors.
Search engines will penalise you for 404’s (pages not found), as it gives their bots a hard time crawling and accessing content. It’s also highly frustrating for users, who are expecting to land on a page that provides useful information.
404 errors often occur due to typos in hyperlinks. The best way to eliminate 404s is to include a redirect to another similar page. That way, users aren’t faced with a blank page, and Google’s bots have ‘something’ to crawl.
4) Responsive design
Technologies have advanced, and users now access the internet on all kinds of devices – mobile, tablet, desktop and even voice search assistants. As Google likes to provide all users with an exceptional browsing experience, it’s no surprise that responsive design is now a ranking factor.
Make sure that your website shrinks to size on all devices. People hate to pinch and zoom to access content. With the majority of sites offering responsive design, it’s come to be expected. Without it, you could lose potential customers.
5) Invest in a bespoke website.
Speaking of visitor expectations, we’ll finish on perhaps the most essential aspect of modern-day design. Having a bespoke website will position you head and shoulders above the competition. Searchers are always looking for the next best thing. They want to land on sites that excite them and deliver a unique and impressive browsing experience.
A bespoke website design will ensure that your website is like no other. No one will have a site like yours, and that’s a great reason to stick around to find out more. A bespoke website designer won’t use templates or blocks to create your website. Instead, it will be entirely customised to meet your vision.
We’d like to finally recommend that if you have any questions or concerns regarding digital marketing to please contact professionals. Ecommerce website design specialists, Bigfoot Digital, have experience in creating websites that not only look incredible but rank well in the search results. That’s a big tick for user experience and SEO.