Creating Great Experience for SEO

by Jason Acidre on July 2, 2013 · 29 comments · Content, Conversion, Search


Improving a website’s usage data is very essential in SEO nowadays, as these signals highly reflect the quality of the site and the level of experience it can provide to its users.

Another reason why optimizing for experience is so important in this new age of search is because of the fact that Google Panda filters are now being integrated to Google’s search ranking algorithm.

If in case you’re wondering what Panda has to do with experience, here’s a brief description of what the recent Panda updates do:

  • It targets poor-content pages (pages with low user activity and short-clicks from search results).
  • It targets duplicate content pages (as they also have low user activity).
  • Search listings (amount of pages accessible through search) that have high bounce rates/short-clicks.

Google has also updated their SEO advice recently that strongly hints that webmasters should focus on improving site experience:

“In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share.”

And Rand discussed this update from Google and shared an easy-to-digest list of categories that SEOs should be optimizing their site for in order to rank better on search results:

  1. Make the page more relevant
  2. Make the page higher quality
  3. Make the page more well-cited
  4. Make the page more accessible
  5. Make the page’s listing in the search results more compelling
  6. Make the site the page is hosted on more relevant
  7. Make the site the page is hosted on higher quality
  8. Make the site the page is hosted on more well-cited
  9. Make the site the page is hosted on more accessible
  10. Make the site the page is hosted on a more recognizable and compelling brand

SEO as a marketing practice has clearly evolved – wherein optimizing for humans is far more important than optimizing for engines.

So what are the things you can do to improve the overall experience that your site can offer to its users?

UX and Usability

Have a deeper grasp of what your target customers want for them to explore more on your site. Making a good impression (by making sure that they’ll find your site useful/valuable) is very crucial – given that it can affect other areas of your campaign (particularly in retaining visitors and improving site usage).

Sabina Idler did a great piece a month ago on understanding the user experience, which explains comprehensively how each aspect of UX can be implemented. The dissected aspects of UX include:

  • Usability (availability & accessibility, clarity, learnability, credibility and relevancy)
  • Aesthetics (making the design appealing, effective, pleasurable and memorable)
  • Customer service (building trust and relationships with users – just like SingleHop‘s approach to customer service, making it very visible on every page of the site)

singlehop

  • Brand consistency (which results to customer loyalty)
  • Personal impact (as positive emotions help people remember brands)
  • Readability (content must be easy-to-comprehend and scannable for skim readers)
  • Easy-to-follow site navigational structure (like using breadcrumb links to pass ranking power back to your site’s major categories)

breadcrumb links

For more detailed tips on usability, you definitely have to check out Jason Delodovici’s guide on improving your site’s usability.

“Every page is a landing page” mantra

Pages that you allow to be accessible through search are considerably landing pages that can send leads/sales to your business.

Adapt conversion optimization strategies, not just on your site’s key pages, but also on your overall content strategy.

There are several tactics that you can implement to your site’s inner pages to improve their conversions, or to just help you get your visitors closer to your end-goal. Jessica Collier wrote an exceptional post on different approaches that you can try on optimizing landing pages, which includes:

  • Segmented experience – which focuses on optimizing for unique visitor experience through building different specialized landing pages or content targeted to different set of audiences, rather than building a single landing page targeted to all types of audience. This is also a great method to use in growing your site’s content portfolio.
  • Use of social logins – given that it helps improve user-experience through reduced form fields, faster access and accuracy in data collection.
  • Progressive conversion – wherein the method aims to get multiple interactions from users, which is a better way to build trust and to have better chances of having them convert on your end-goal conversion action.
  • Device optimization – using responsive web design to make sure that your pages are highly-optimized for any device.
  • Creating effective CTAs (on all of your site’s searchable pages)- making sure that they are in context with the content they are hosted on and making them very visible.

Resource-Landing-Page-2

  • Considering eye-tracking and heat maps could also be very beneficial in improving your pages’ ability to attract, retain and convert visitors.

You can also check out Unbounce’s unique landing page strategies for more ideas. And for more conversion optimization tips, you can check out these guides:

Improving visitor engagement, long-click and reducing bounce rate

Improved visitors’ time spent on site/pages is a strong indicator of great experience. There are many ways to optimize your site’s ability to engage visitors such as

  • Making sure that your pages’ titles are accurate and match the information provided by their content, to prevent incoming search visitors from bouncing back to the search results.
  • Displaying social proof and trust indicators in the site’s key entrances (like what Coops and Cages did to their key pages that increased their conversions by 40%).

coopsandcages

  • Increasing internal links in your pages’ content. This can help make your visitors stay longer, especially if you’re internally linking to other useful and relevant resources hosted within your site.
  • Improving readability by testing different fonts, changing content structure (like breaking long paragraphs or designing content for skim readers), and testing/using better page headlines.
  • Blocking access to poor-content and duplicate pages in the site (by adding the noindex tag on these pages). This will improve your site’s ranking power, since it won’t be displaying any unimportant pages on search results.

Site Speed

Google is obsessed with speed, as they try to get people to use the Internet more. There are many ways to improve your website’s performance in terms of speed, especially nowadays that there are available tools that can guide you in optimizing your site – such as Page Speed and Pingdom.

Google’s search team has also been very transparent about site speed being a huge ranking factor in their algorithm. The good thing is that there are tons of available resources on how you can optimize your site’s speed, and you can check out some of them below:

Learning from Analytics data

Your analytics data can help you better understand what your users want and look for. Some of the areas where you can discover more opportunities to improve your content and business strategy are:

  • Your site’s worst landing pages (pages on your site that have high bounce rates and low engagement rates) – as these insights can help you improve them as well as your approach in optimizing all of the site’s pages.
  • Keywords that send good volume of traffic but with no conversions or have low engagement rate. Identifying these keywords and understanding why people aren’t converting can help you in optimizing their designated landing pages.
  • Site search data. As this can get you more information on what your visitors are looking for – which can help you identify other topic areas that your audience is also interested in. For more in-depth tips, you can check out this guide on using site search data to improve content strategy from Search Engine Land.

site search data

Targeted outreach and content distribution

The more you’re visible on highly relevant traffic-referring sources/sites, the more you are able to generate highly targeted and easily-engaged visitors.

Associating your site with other authority online publications where your target audiences are can extremely help you grow your site’s usage signals, especially when people are sharing your content (which is another strong indicator of quality experience).

Focus on acquiring links, coverage and exposure that can generate more actions on your site. This is doable when you’re getting links/mentions from the right places (on sites where your target market is).

Some of the marketing activities that you do to get more qualified traffic (that will actually do stuff when they’re already on your site):

  • Regularly contribute content and/or participate on discussions on high-traffic sites that are topically relevant to yours.
  • Reach out and connect with industry influencers who’ll find value in and most likely share your product/content to their network/followers.
  • Continuously grow your site’s content assets and keep on educating your audience, so that people will have more reasons to share, subscribe and interact with your brand.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed and follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre.

Jason Acidre

Jason Acidre is Co-Founder and CEO of Xight Interactive, marketing consultant for Affilorama and Traffic Travis, and also the sole author of this SEO blog. You can follow him on Twitter @jasonacidre and on Google+.

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Tom July 2, 2013 at 7:52 am

Great advice, Jason. Connecting with other bloggers and building relationship with them goes a long way. Thanks for the great article.

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Sef July 2, 2013 at 8:17 am

Another helpful and awesome post Jason (thumbs up) keeping a website visitors and make them come back every now and then is the best result of a great user experience that a website will provide. :D and having a mindset of “every page is a landing page” will complete the ingredients of developing optimized landing pages for user experience. -Off topic, looking forward to seeing you on Morcon2013.

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seoteky July 2, 2013 at 6:33 pm

Excited na si Sef! Hahaha

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Ron July 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm

This is very interesting information, I recently was looking for a new pediatrician for my son (which is naturally my wifes duty!) and got referred to a couple different sites for pediatricians. The one that stood out to me most, was in fact the one that caught my eye, and attention, and drew me in. The other was bland, and boring to say the least, so I did not end up choosing a pediatrician from that site. Not only are you drawing in more visitors, but you achieve a higher clientele. Awesome topic.

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Addam Hassan July 2, 2013 at 6:26 pm

Thanks for writing this post, it’s really useful with sound actionable advice.

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eDigitalFields July 2, 2013 at 11:03 pm

Now, it’s time to focus more on usability and experience. To create great experience, think of everything about your audience and how they will approach your website.

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Anthony Pensabene July 3, 2013 at 11:35 am

awesome as always. those vans are fly. did you grab those? :)

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Chris Mayhew July 4, 2013 at 2:16 am

Thanks for the great advice Jason. I have always said that useability is a big part of SEO. If people can’t easily navigate your site then they are never going to stay for long or share it with their friends. Thanks for sharing.

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hiren July 4, 2013 at 3:02 am

hi jason
i am new blogger and your seo tips are very helpful for me thanks for sharing this article.

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Alok Pant July 4, 2013 at 4:27 am

So much information in one page. I bet you could have made 5 different articles from it :)
The future of customer retention lies in Usability. The successful website are those who create an environment for audience to come to the site again and again. Thank you for this through article. I enjoyed it very much.

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Angie Wilson July 4, 2013 at 7:20 am

I think relevancy, unique content and nice neighborhood of websites referring you always counts first , and its a great article from your side double likes!!

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Saiful July 4, 2013 at 9:07 am

Generate Google Analytics reports on monthly basis and research on the keywords that have used many times in your website.

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John July 5, 2013 at 2:03 am

Great article! jason I agree the points which you mentioned in the article. first thing, a website should give clear information to the user what they are looking for so that we easily improve the website on the first page of search engine search results.

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steve July 6, 2013 at 4:26 am

Wow your seo guide is really good.. I said that useability is a big part of SEO

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Melanie Rose July 6, 2013 at 11:56 am

It just goes to show you that the internet is for people, and you can’t get around that. Thanks for a great article filled with useful information :)

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Kyle July 7, 2013 at 2:38 am

This kind of SEO will help us to grow our product and let other’s view our product. It helps to build relations.

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Angella Peterson July 12, 2013 at 2:28 am

Hi Jason. Your Mantra i.e. “Every Page is Landing Page”, really a touchy line. Very informative post. Please please keep sharing like this. :)

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James July 14, 2013 at 6:50 am

Hi Jason,

Do you think that bounce rate and number of visited pages affect SEO.

if yes how?

J.

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Gajendran M July 19, 2013 at 10:03 pm

Just amazing article from you, vary useful for me……. thank Q……

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Nathan Brook July 29, 2013 at 5:41 am

we are talking about search and SEO,so maybe I could casually mention that social search is going to be the next big thing.I know that if someone was thinking about SEO, then they might be interested in that topic.It also drives clicks and reduces bounce rate by staying relevant to the visitor’s interest.

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Shruti August 13, 2013 at 3:18 am

I really love the post about international SEO. This is a good overview of the three general approaches.

However what I find absent in this discussion is mobile SEO. Internationally mobile SEO is more important than desktop SEO especially in in the countries that comprise APAC and EU.

What are the recommended architecture solutions for international mobile SEO when the mobile site is a subdomain vs a subdirectory?

Shruti

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Nathan Brook December 30, 2013 at 4:44 am

I love this post. Yes SEO is changing rapidly. Nowadays it is not just about links. In my opinion people are still struggling to understand what Google want from us.

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Spook SEO January 6, 2014 at 8:18 am

“Hello Jason!

Lately I have been reading some of your articles and all I can say is that your articles are very interesting and very helpful. Kudos for this another superb article of yours. Anyway, I believe that there are many ways to optimize our site’s ability to engage visitors. I think one way is to increase internal links in our pages’ content. This can actually help make our visitors stay longer, especially if we are internally linking to other valuable and important resources hosted within our site.

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Abhijit Gupta February 6, 2014 at 5:16 am

Great post with some excellent points for beginners. This information is beneficial. Good collection. Really got information.Surely visit again for more updates

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Amita February 12, 2014 at 1:44 am

Hi Jason,

when it comes to mobile SEO I am a little bit “torn” between using responsive design as one option and rel alternate in for the mobile version. On the topic I suggest these three reads

http://searchengineland.com/when-responsive-web-design-is-bad-for-seo-149109
http://www.seomoz.org/ugc/5-mobile-seo-tips-from-the-google-adwords-team
https://developers.google.com/webmasters/smartphone-sites/details

All the options are relatively new. Time and experiments will show which solution is good for which case. Too early to tell unfortunately.

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Prateek May 3, 2014 at 4:03 am

Thanks for post!
I am firm believer that UX ,Usability and content makes site good to great

Reply

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