Perhaps you know the basics of search engine optimization (SEO) best practices. You have learned the difference between black and white hat tactics, even though they’re always changing, and you know why having a superior SEO agency taking care of your website, social media, online content and the like is critical. Unfortunately, one aspect of most SEO strategies is often overlooked: a great user experience.
Ultimately, that’s what SEO is all about, but it is easy to get caught up in pleasing search engine algorithms by changing your punchy keyword strategy to long-tail key phrase strategies. SEO exists because search engines want to match people with the best, most relevant content. That should also be your goal: matching your content/website to the people who will most enjoy or benefit from it.
Too often, SEO talk focuses on backlinks, social media integration and the like. Those aspects of SEO are important, but the user experience trumps all of them. The user experience is what will keep people coming back for more. For example, compare having a meal to SEO and the user experience. You can take this meal, serve it on a paper plate and tell guests they have to eat sitting on a lumpy couch — or you can decorate a beautiful table, use your best china and set the mood. The latter experience is much more preferable. The same goes for SEO. Here is how to design a great user experience for your visitors:
1. Speed things up.
While site speed is a quantifiable factor in SEO, it is also critical for the user experience. According to a study by Akami, people do not just want a fast load time — they expect it. Simply put, the slower the load time, the more bouncebacks you will have. Smashing Magazine also undertook a study in the redesign of its own website. Many changes were made, including site speed. The magazine reports, “By deferring and caching web fonts, inlining CSS and optimizing the critical rendering path for the first 14 kilobits, we were able to achieve dramatic improvements in loading times.” This resulted in more quality traffic for the media outlet.
2. Improve your CTA (Call to action).
Most websites have at least one CTA on their website, such as asking visitors to call a number for a free consultation. Content Verve undertook 10 studies on CTA optimization, and found that three changes brought the best results. The first is to personalize it, such as changing “Start your free trial now” to “Start my free trial now,” which leads to a 25 percent higher click rate. Making the CTA button more relevant to the user led to an increase of 213 percent in the click rate. Finally, putting the CTA in a better physical position (via testing) led to 304 percent more conversions — the end is usually the best place.
3. Put mobile first
Considering that 80 percent of people browsing online are usually doing so from mobile devices, the mobile browsing experience has to be premium. Putting mobile first means responsive design and perhaps mobile design (an app or mobile version of a website) depending on your business, your website and what your users want. When Smashing Magazine put mobile first, largely by switching to a PHP framework from CMS, server speeds went up 3,900 percent and their mobile traffic doubled.
You can improve the user experience in many ways, from a streamlined homepage to better content presentation. When it comes to SEO, listen to your clients — they’ll tell you what they want.