SEOs are always scouring the internet and exhausting their networks trying to find new ways to optimize websites for Google and other search engines. Whether they are tips to improve page speed or new keywords to target, the work of an SEO seems to be never-ending.
However, rather than chasing new visitors to increase your site traffic, the key to search performance could be found outside of search engine marketing altogether.
Quickly envision the process of successful conversion from a Google search:
- Step one: The user enters their query into Google.
- Step two: Google generates a SERP based on its perception of the type of content that that user is looking for.
- Step three: The user analyzes the metadata displayed on the SERP and selects the link that will most likely solve their needs.
- Step four: This is the make-or-break moment where the user decides whether or not to bounce or stay on the site to find the information or solution that they searched for.
- Step five: The new visitor quickly connects with and trusts the site they are on. They instantly found the information or product they were searching for or can easily navigate to it to fulfill a purchase or schedule a meeting.
Step four not only illustrates a pivotal moment for SEOs but for Google as well. If a search user consistently clicks through to sites that are slow to load, hard to navigate or entirely irrelevant to their needs, they’re going to switch to a different search engine. In short, Google wants to please its users by highly ranking sites that are friendly to its users’ want.
By shifting your mindset from, “how can I crack the Google algorithm?” to, “how can I delight Google and its users?”, you create a better focus on engagement rather than simply acquiring search volume. Essentially, your search success hinges upon your site’s UX. Two elements of UX are particularly relevant to SEO.
1. Give users an engaging experience
Place yourself in the shoes of searchers. What do you look for when you Google something? It’s probably these three things:
- Fast load speed
- Web design that is industry appropriate and stimulating
- Information that is presented clearly
So, while you study analytics for metrics like time on site and bounce rate, understand that the context of those metrics matters. Why are users sticking around? Is it because they’re truly engaged with your site or is because they’re having troubles finding what they’re searching for? You can utilize heatmapping services to gain a better understanding of how users are truly interacting with your site. Services like Full Story, Looker, Hotjar, Crazy Egg, Lucky Orange, and Optimizely. If you have a favorite comment it below.
Focusing on user experience can help increase traffic; According to a blog post in Think With Google, 1-800-Got-Junk decreased their load time by 28% and received a 19% increase in mobile sessions.
By establishing a strong first impression, you give yourself the best chance of a first-time conversion or, at least, a better chance for a return visit for users in the “shopping around” stage.
How can you make your site more engaging?
Based on your industry and the intent of the page, your design and layout should create an experience for users that feels immersive, natural and frictionless. This means that:
- Your call-outs are clear, but not too flashy.
- Your design (from colors and images to font choice) should command the user’s focus.
- Optimization of speed on desktop and mobile
Once you’ve gained the reader’s attention, seal the deal with engaging and relevant content.
2. Focus on the context of your content
Going through the work of finding relevant keywords and creating insightful and engaging content that looks great is only half of the battle. The other half of the SEO equation is search intent. Let’s say you’re an e-commerce brand creating a product page. It’s pretty clear what your CTA is – “Buy Now”. By focusing the design and copy of this page towards searchers that are in the ready-to-buy mode, you ensure that both Google and its users are happy to have your site at the top of SERPs.
Likewise, if you’re creating a more informative page that is focused on educating viewers on industry insights, news or FAQs, including salesy rhetoric will only set yourself up for failure once visitors are sent to a page that doesn’t support a quick purchase decision.
Create a lingo-free supportive copy that sells your company as a guide to their need. We used a book called BrandStory by Donald Miller to define our website copy. The idea is to create a story that makes your customer the Hero and makes you the guide towards solving their need. You want to create a story people want to be part of, think of Toms Shoes. You don’t have to be a bleeding heart to accomplish this, Just explain who you are and how you will meet the customer’s needs.
Making this type of connection with your customer is a big impact on your sales funnel. A recent study by the Harvard Business Review shows how emotional content can impact your bottom line. In fact, according to HBR a retailer even had a “50% increase in the rate of same-store-sales growth”.
Some great examples of quality “StoryBrand” content Include:
- Soul Cycle
- Uber’s One Billion Ride
These brands explain a story in which engages a user into becoming the “Hero” of the story. GoPro, for example, gives the customer the experience of recording their moments enjoying life, Making Gopro the “guide” to helping customers remember their adventures.
Even Google tested this on their retail call-to-action by consolidating their content and received an increase of organic traffic by 64%. Quality content is only part of the user experience but can create an impact on your business when it becomes “ego-less” and more about the customer.
The better your site performs in terms of relevancy and engagement, the happier the visitors are going to be. At the end of the day, Google is just looking to please its users too.
Search engine best practices are going to help place your site on Google’s radar. However, what’s going to set you apart from the rest of your competitors on SERPs is your commitment to delivering a high quality and hyper-relevant website to searchers. A newfound emphasis on your site’s UX can be the exact refresher your sites SEO needed.
Jonathan Alonso is Director of Digital Marketing at CNCMachines.Net. He can be found on Twitter at @jongeek.