SEO is constantly changing. But one principle that’s likely to be true for the foreseeable future is that you should optimise for users, not just search engines. It’s easy to get so caught up in finding the right keywords and backlinks to increase your rankings that you forget about providing helpful information to the human beings browsing your site. To do so is a mistake, however. These days, a user-focused approach matters in SEO, and paying attention to factors like useability, readability, graphics and ease of navigation will help you reap major rewards.In the early days of search engines, you could simply cram a page full of keywords and reach the top of the results. That began to change in 2003 when Google rolled out its first major algorithm update, which cracked down on spammy techniques, including keyword stuffing. A further update followed in 2011, targeting sites with lean content that failed to offer value to web users.SEO strategy goes hand-in-hand with UX (user experience), and you need a user-first approach to create a high-ranking website. Some stats to illustrate this point include
- People base 75% of a website’s credibility purely on its aesthetics
- 88% of online shoppers wouldn’t return to a website after one bad user experience
- Improving your UX design can boost your conversion rate by up to 400%
Google focuses on user behaviour to assess rankings, and one of the actions it takes into account is “pogo-sticking”. This is when a web user clicks on your site link and immediately clicks back to Google because they haven’t found what they were looking for. While Google and other search engines don’t know why visitors are leaving your site so quickly, chances are high that the UX is lacking.If you’re busy running your own business, hiring a professional to provide SEO services optimised for UX is an excellent idea. But there are many simple strategies you can put in place to give your site more of a user-first approach, such as
- Increasing the site speed
- Making the site easy to navigate
- Making sure you have a mobile-friendly version
- Using headlines effectively and ensuring your logo is clearly displayed, among others
Putting a few of these tips into practice will go a long way to having a website that pleases the people as well as the search engines.
How to Make Your Site More User-Friendly
A few simple steps to a website with a greater user-first approach are
1. Learn design fundamentals
If you want to understand more about what makes a website enjoyable and easy to use, it helps to learn the fundamentals of graphic design.You don’t need to do an entire degree or become an expert in the field. Just gaining some knowledge of the basics is enough to see a difference. When you understand a bit about design, you’ll be able to see how the look and layout of your own website impact the experience of its users.Design is about more than beauty. Steve Jobs once said, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” A plain and simple design can still be highly effective if the user's eyes are drawn to the right places in the correct order if the overall look and feel is consistent, and if the customer can easily find what they’re after.Hiring experts in graphic design is a fantastic idea to get this aspect of your website working in your favour. Graphic design professionals will explain the psychology behind their choices, so you completely understand why they’ve approached your site’s look a certain way.
2. Address existing user pain points
There are tools that provide insight into how web users interact with your page and what stops them from following through on a sale.Customer pain points are often grouped into four main types
- Productivity (e.g. a purchasing funnel takes too long)
- Financial (e.g. a solution costs too much)
- Process (e.g. lack of readily available information)
- Support (e.g. inability to speak to someone who can answer your questions)
Google Analytics shows you where people are dropping off your website, whether that’s on the payment screen with an item in their shopping cart, or as soon as they get a good look at your landing page.You can also set up heatmap software to find out how people are interacting with your site. Heatmap programs like Mouseflow, Crazy Egg and Clicktale allow you to see how far down the page users are scrolling, what they’re clicking and how much attention they’re paying to your links and buttons.Once you know exactly where users are losing interest, it makes it much easier to home in on and address specific pain points. Removing these obstacles is an important part of any user-first approach.
3. Test everything
Once you have the data on where the customer’s pain points lie, it’s time to test the most effective methods of resolving them. A/B testing allows you to show web users two or more versions of your site to assess which performs best. It’s a way to make minor changes to your website without having to re-design the whole thing.A/B testing tells you you’ve correctly identified the problem and if you’re moving in the right direction to solve it.If your updated page isn’t performing better than the existing one, it’s time to try a different user-first approach.
4. Give the people what they want
For an SEO strategy to be effective, it needs to focus on pleasing the people as well as the search engines.If you can address your customer’s pain points, provide them with the information they want, and make it easy for them to get in touch with you, you’ll benefit.That doesn’t mean SEO is meaningless. Quite the opposite: the best-ranking webpages strike a balance between providing real value to real people and being optimised for search engines with the right keywords, backlinks, titles and meta-titles etc.
5. Never stop learning
Since SEO is constantly changing and evolving, it pays to keep learning, stay up-to-date with the latest news and algorithm updates and keep refining your approach.There are lots of websites and podcasts on the topic, and many of them offer breaking SEO news to keep you at the forefront of what’s happening in the industry. Maintaining a commitment to continual growth and evolution will help your site rankings, business, and career.
SEO Services at Anchor Digital
If you’re looking for professionals to help you with your SEO strategy and services, Anchor Digital will help you cast the line deeper than keywords and bots.As a full-funnel digital and creative agency, we have deep knowledge of both SEO and UX and how they complement each other. We offer guidance and strategies that help your website rank on search engines and significantly increase conversations. All while creating a website experience that pleases human eyes and tells your potential customers exactly what they need to know.We’ll never lock you into a long-term contract. Instead, we believe in offering accurate results that will make you want to use our SEO services again.Drop us a line to find out how we can steer you toward a practical user-first approach that catches the attention of potential customers and doesn’t let them get away.