Thanks to incremental algorithm changes Google has been rolling out over the past few years, search engine optimization is no longer about keyword stuffing. Instead, Google attempts to locate the content that users want based on a variety of factors, with the relevant keywords just being a small percentage.
At their heart, these changes have been promoting sites that are not just relevant but that provide a good experience. Otherwise, Google wouldn’t care about things like page speed when considering search engine results page (SERP) ranking.
What these changes mean is that SEO and user experience have done more than merge. They are essentially one in the same, with good SEO meaning that the site satisfies a host of factors that include quality content, navigability and mobile optimization. Welcome to the new era.
Quality and Usability Above All Else
In our recent post about how SEO is becoming Search Experience Optimization, we noted how web designers and page owners must stop trying to game the system in order to gain ranking. Instead of trying to manipulate results through grey-hat techniques, the focus should be on the user. “The search engines don’t work for you,” we said. “They work for the searchers.”
Going further into this concept, solid design principles can become part of SEO. Mobile-friendly optimization is important, for one, but so is naturally guiding users to the pages or places that they want to go. Serving landing-page style content when the user expected a helpful article will contribute to your bounce rate, for instance. Instead, information-seeking searchers must be able to find other informative pages with as few clicks as possible.
These principles mean strategizing your site layout and making judicious use of subject tags to organize your knowledge. No user should have to scroll through eight pages of your blog to find the next relevant post. Instead, it should be linked in the text, or recommended at the very end.
Also, it should go without saying that all content should have value to the user. As online marketing legend Neil Patel states, “relevant content that fulfills user expectations is going to take center stage” in his anticipated future of SEO.
Three Metrics That Tell You If You Have a Good User Experience
The good news for SEO is that you don’t have to take crash courses in UX to guess if your site isn’t delivering on expectations. Instead, you can rely on these three metrics:
- Click-Through Rate: A great way to gauge SEO off the bat is to see if your headers and metas deliver something audiences want to see. Ranking is useless if no one clicks, after all.
- Time Spent On-Page: On-page times indicate the average amount of time a user is spending on your site. If you deliver solid content or use compelling copy for your permanent pages, visitors should be lingering several minutes at a time.
- Bounce Rate: We’ve already mentioned bounce rate because it has an impact on your ranking. Users bouncing tells you that they felt disappointed or downright deceived by the content they got versus what they were promised in the search description. A high bounce rate indicates that you need to offer higher-quality content, or that you need to fit your metas and headers to better-fit the actual content.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
User experience is a tricky discipline that goes beyond common sense or data-based strategizing. Experience and knowledge of best practices are key. It also helps to have someone who knows content so your visitors end up pleased by what they see.
You can get all the expertise you need in these areas and more by consulting EverSpark Interactive’s SEO and digital marketing services. At ESI, we always put clients first. Contact us today to learn more.