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Does Your SEO Strategy Include UX?

author image Written by: Lia           Categories - Design Services, SEO Tips

Why SEO Strategy Shouldn’t Ignore UX, and 5 Common Design Mistakes to Avoid

Good set-up, quality content, and a pretty design are the formula for successful SEO… right? If only it were that simple. We’ve said it before: SEO is not a fill-in-the-blanks process. It requires a unique mix of creative thought and data-backed research and work to be truly successful. Nowhere is this more evident than in the unique interplay of user experience (UX) and the role it plays in search engine optimization. In fact, UX plays a more important role than ever before, extending beyond the visual. When was the last time you thought about user experience? And what steps have you taken to ensure your site is thriving with the best possible UX design? UX design can make or break a website. Search engines have evolved to make use of advanced algorithms and machine learning that take UX into account. Simply put, poor user experience now has an impact on search engine results. SEO companies and agencies strive for a winning combination of SEO and UX. Collaborative design and set-up are essential for successful rankings and initiatives. It just so happens that your conversion rate will see benefits too, a happy side effect of effective UX design! If you’re not already doing it, using SEO services to improve UX is something you can’t afford to skip. Here’s why:

User Signals and Behaviour

User behaviour should inform visual design and SEO strategy.
What signal is this user’s behaviour sending?
User signals factor into search engine rankings, Thus, any problems with UX will affect organic search results and conversions. Since users don’t always enter a site at the home page, you should consider the various channels and entry points users take to your site. Use analytics tools to determine landing and exit pages; this will give you insight into how users are interacting with individual pages. And, of course, keep in mind that if a user is searching for a specific keyword, the page they’re landing on had better give them the info they need. Don’t make your users jump around to find something on your site!

Avoid Common UX Mistakes

If a user can’t find what they’re looking for in a minute or two, chances are they’re going contribute to your bounce rate. At best, you’ve lost a customer; at worst, your priming them to switch to the competition. Thankfully, there are simple and straightforward solutions to these issues. Here are a few familiar challenges and what you can do to overcome them:

Tabbed Content

We can’t stress this enough: never hide the content a user is looking for! Tabs and dropdowns are another step (and therefore potential frustration) that get between users and successful conversions. The solution? Find visually distinct means of conveying and highlighting the important stuff. Remember how design operates on three distinct levels? Create a good first impression visually, deliver on the promise your site makes, and give users a good reason to visit again. Visual designs must account for how a user’s eyes are going to move about a page, so make sure people are seeing what you want them to see right off the bat. And stop hiding content!

Infinite scroll pages just keep going and going…

Infinite Scroll Pages

These pages have one URL but multiple topics on a single page. When you land on one, you’ve got to keep scrolling to find what you’re looking for. And because the content isn’t loading until you start scrolling, using your browser’s built-in search function isn’t going to help. It’s a time-consuming and frustrating experience for users. Break up site content (visual or verbal) into more digestible chunks. Remember, users scan and want to find info quickly. If the page can’t be broken up, then implement some sort of navigation system or table of content for quick jumps to what users need to find.

No Visual Hierarchy

If done well, eye-catching web design can convert your users and leave a lasting impression. But sometimes, the UX design of a website is ineffective. This is where visual hierarchies come into play. Imagine a pyramid of your goals based on how you would ideally like your users to interact with your website. The top of the pyramid is a type of conversion functionality, such as a call to action button. This call to action should be the first thing users see when arriving at your landing page. Lower down the pyramid is interactive videos or compelling content that entices them to discover more about your brand and business. The design of your page should prioritize visual content based on your visual hierarchy, with conversion rates being the most eye-catching, and so on. Simply put, visual hierarchies prioritize visual content based on your goals.

Poor Checkout Process

For e-commerce businesses, finalizing an online order is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But if your checkout process isn’t fast, clear, or easy to use, your customers will likely abandon their carts. To optimize your check-out process for a quick, easy, and straightforward experience, consider using these UX design factors:

  • A guest checkout option—since many users don’t want to register because it’s time consuming and means they may get bombarded with unwanted e-mails;
  • A clear, detailed view of items in the shopping cart;
  • A progress indicator to show where customers are at in the checkout process; and,
  • The total cost of the order, including taxes and shipping fees, is detailed and visible prior to finalizing the purchase.

Outdated Web Design

Bad design can be extremely detrimental to an overall SEO strategy.
Your users deserve a pleasant, stress-free design and experience.
First impressions are huge when it comes to websites. The aesthetics of your design can directly impact how your business is perceived. If your site looks outdated, lacks a consistent theme, and isn’t up-to-date on current design trends, then it’s possible that users will be skeptical of your business and decide not to trust you. Furthermore, Google will likely rank your site poorly since it doesn’t adequately accommodate the visually-appealing aspect of user experience. It’s important that Google prioritizes the user’s experience when it comes to your website, so to ensure you rank high on Google’s search engine, you need to adapt that same priority. There are ways you can improve your web design to account for UX. Consider having:

  • Visually-appealing designs that follow a theme;
  • Less clutter and more white space—this is more attractive and can help guide users’ eyes to your call to action; and,
  • Fast page loading times to keep users satisfied and more likely to stick around.

There are many aspects of UX design that contribute to offering the best possible user experience. SEO companies collaborate with business owners, marketers, designers, developers, and content creators to provide optimal SEO services that account for UX. With this collaboration, you can include UX in your SEO strategy, get your site up to speed, and boost both conversions and rankings.

Lia

Google Backtracks on Recommendation to Include Keywords in GMB Descriptions

02/14/2020

SEO Experts Say Google’s Stance on Keywords in Google My Business to Improve Rankings is Inaccurate

Practically setting a record for backtracking in the wake of controversy, Google is rethinking a recent Google My Business (GMB) change just 24 hours after launching, due to a wave of criticism over some new recommendations. Earlier this week, Google launched a new “Describe your business(es)” section in the “Improve your local ranking on Google” page of the Google My Business (GMB) Help site. The section encouraged local business owners to start including relevant keywords in their GMB descriptions that customers would use to find their business within their listings. Google my business keyword reccomendation Source: Search Engine Land It’s safe to say that this did not go over well within the SEO community, and within just one day, Google removed its suggestion to use keywords in GMB descriptions in the Google help document.

So, Why the Outrage?

The main reason Google’s recommendation was so controversial was the fact that it wasn’t exactly accurate. Many local SEO experts have spoken out about the recommendation, arguing that GMB descriptions have no role in rankings when it comes to local search results. https://twitter.com/DarrenShaw_/status/1227633557339688961?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1227633557339688961&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.seroundtable.com%2Fgoogle-my-business-keywords-descriptions-28994.html In fact, some have pointed out that for Google to use keywords in GMB descriptions as a ranking factor would an actually invite and encourage even more spam listings.

So, What Now?

The key lesson here is not to try and keyword spam to manipulate your rankings. However, Google has kept in its suggestion to give it as many signals as possible about your business in your description. “dding complete and detailed business information can help Google better understand your business and match your listing to relevant searches from customers,” said Google.

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SEO: You Have Questions, We Have Answers!

09/18/2019

10 Questions All Businesses Have About SEO

When you’re just getting started, figuring out how to make search engine optimization (SEO) work for your business can seem overly complicated. Navigating through the best practices while avoiding the common pitfalls is enough to make your head spin. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We’ve answered some of the top questions most businesses that are inexperienced with SEO have to help you gain a better understanding of how you can get the most out of your SEO efforts and start seeing results.

1. What Is SEO And Why Is It Important?

animated image of seo on a graph with traffic and hits
Animation created by Ruchira
SEO stands for search engine optimization and refers to the practice of optimizing your website content so that search engines like Google, Yahoo, or Bing will show it as a top result for searches of a certain keyword.

2. What Is the Difference Between Paid and Organic SEO?

Anytime someone searches for a particular keyword, search engines include two main sections: organic and sponsored results. Companies can pay for their content to appear in the sponsored results section based on the number of people who click on the ad. Meanwhile, the organic section is filled with results that show up naturally based on the strength of your SEO, without you having to pay a cent. So while it can take a while for your website rank in the organic section, it does not cost you anything.

3. When Should I Start SEO?

animated images of the FonzThere’s no better time than now. Some of the most successful websites have been doing SEO since the beginning. So, if you haven’t yet started SEO, now is the best time to take the leap. Although SEO is a long-term commitment, it is one of the most inexpensive investments that will help you generate leads and reach your conversion goals. And what company doesn’t want more business?

4. How Long Does It Take to See Results from SEO Efforts?

SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. How quickly you will see results from your SEO efforts is dependent on the following factors:

  • The quantity of content you create and how frequently you post
  • The quality of your content
  • How your content resonates with your audience
  • The size of your website and whether or not you have strong or weak domain authority

While larger websites can see results in a matter of days if search engines are crawling them regularly, smaller sites will typically take longer since they are crawled less frequently. Be patient and wait a week to a month before changing your SEO strategy. If you are brand new to the SEO game, wait a little bit longer.

5. What Role do Keywords Play?

In its simplest form, keywords are the words or phrases people type into a search engine when performing a search. They can range from single words to longer, more complex phrases, and should be used in your website copy to help attract more organic search traffic. With the right amount of research and optimization, keywords help to funnel your content directly to your target audience. Essentially, they are searching for something specific, and you’re helping them land on your page to give them what they’re looking for.

6. What are Some Key SEO Factors?

Content Marketing

Creating quality, engaging content is no longer an option for businesses – it’s a necessity. The websites that are ranking the highest are the ones that are publishing relevant content on a regular basis. In fact, content is one of the key components of an effective SEO strategy and should have a direct impact on how you market your business online. That said, it’s not enough to churn out content for the sake of creating it, it has to be relevant, engaging, and have a real purpose for your audience. The golden rule is always quality over quantity.three people pointing at a laptop screen

On-Page Optimization

These are the measures that can be taken directly within your website to improve your position search rankings. Some of these measures include optimizing web content and improving your meta descriptions and title tags.

Local SEO

Also known as local search engine marketing, local SEO refers to optimizing your online presence in order to attract customers and clients from relevant local searches. Think of when you carry out a search on Google for a restaurant that serves a certain type of cuisine. Google compiles a list of places matching your search criteria located near you, displays them in a boxed area, and shows their locations on a map. This is known as the “snack pack” results.

Read More: Locally Sourced SEO Success

Algorithm Changes

Similar to the recipe for Coca-Cola and KFC’s secret mix of spices, Google holds its search algorithm – the code that determines how search results are displayed – pretty close to the vest. But unlike the Colonel’s famous fried chicken, Google’s recipe is constantly changing – with hundreds of minor algorithm updates per year – so it’s important to keep up to date with new developments to ensure that your site is constantly optimized.

E-A-T

animated graphic of a ribbon
Animation by Jake Williams
We’re not talking about lunch here. E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness, and refers to a broad core Google algorithm update that determines how search results are returned depending on a user’s search terms – also commonly known as search intent. The E-A-T update was given its name based on the impact it had on verticals such as healthcare, law, nutrition, real estate, and e-commerce. Essentially, Google wants to ensure that the top results available related to these your money, your life industries are coming from resources that are experts, authorities in their field, and trustworthy. Think of it this way: You need legal advice and look to Google and discover an article from Mr. John Smith LLC. You would want to know that they are in fact a licensed lawyer, an expert in their domain, an authority on the topic, and trustworthy. You are making decisions based on their advice, after all.

Page Speed

Sites that are user-friendly and load faster rank higher in the search results than those that lag and have technical issues.

Backlinks

Links back to your website are crucial for effective SEO. Here’s how it works. Google considers another website linking to your content to be a vote in your favour. So the more backlinks you have, the higher your site will be positioned in search results. It’s that simple.

7. What is On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO?

On-page SEO refers to the factors you can control on your own website like your content, while off-page SEO is page ranking factors that take place outside of your website, such as backlinks from another site. Off-page SEO also includes your methods of promotion, such as social media exposure.

8. What are Black Hat vs. White Hat SEO Practices?

Black hat SEO practices are ethically questionable practices that violate search engine guidelines and provide a poor user experience. So instead of earning high rankings on search engine results, black hat SEO uses shady tactics to reach the same outcome. Some examples include adding so many keywords onto a page that it doesn’t make sense to the reader, sneaky redirects, paid links, and link farms. It’s best to avoid these types of tactics, as it is likely to cause more damage to your web presence in the long run, rather than improve it. Following white hat SEO practices, on the other hand, is encouraged, as it means following search engine guidelines and implementing best practices to optimize your website and improve the user experience.

9. What are the Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid?

Even the most experienced digital marketers make mistakes sometimes. But the advantage of being new to the game is that you can learn from other’s mistakes and avoid making them yourself. Here are some of the top SEO mistakes you should avoid.

Poor User Experience

The strength of your user experience (UX) is has a direct impact on your SEO ranking. Think of it this way: While SEO aims to please search engines, the goal of UX is to make your web visitors happy. But both work together to give users the best possible experience. Ask yourself the following questions to help determine how strong your UX is:

  • Is your site easy to navigate?
  • Are you regularly publishing quality content that engages site visitors?
  • Is your site secure, mobile-friendly, and load quickly?

Creating Content for Content’s Sake

Creating out quality content is crucial to effective SEO and is something you can’t afford to skip out on in this increasingly competitive digital space.

graphic of a computer on fire
Graphic by Liz Zvereva
Even still, many businesses make the mistake of publishing weak content just for the sake of putting out content. So what exactly makes for bad content? Here are some of the core elements of low-quality web content:

  • No value to the reader
  • Misleading titles
  • Too long or too short
  • Stuffed with keywords
  • Repetitive
  • Overtly self-promotional
  • Boring
  • Inaccurate information
  • Mistakes in spelling, grammar, vocabulary

Read More: Forget Sticks And Stones – Words CAN Hurt You

Keyword Stuffing

Despite being considered a black-hat SEO tactic, keyword stuffing – adding as many keywords onto a page as physically possible to trick Google – is still being used in many business’s SEO strategies. But does this actually work? While keyword stuffing can initially have some short-term benefits, it only ends up hurting you in the long run. If Google catches you stuffing keywords in your content, they will penalize you by demoting you in rankings or removing you from search results altogether. So, ask yourself: Is it really worth the risk? It’s still critical to include keywords in your content, but like anything in life, they need to be used in moderation. Focus more on people rather than bots, and create valuable content that uses keywords modestly, and appropriately.

  • Failing to Focus on Local SEO

When optimizing their websites for search rankings, a lot of businesses tend to focus on conventional SEO. However, this can be difficult for smaller local businesses who are competing with large, established corporations who have mastered their SEO strategies. For this reason, it’s incredibly important for smaller businesses to direct their efforts towards local SEO. There is a lot of value in being listed in the Google Snack Pack results as it gives your business a greater sense of authority. And, it doesn’t hurt that businesses in the Snack Pack Section generate more clicks and web traffic.

  • Ignoring Paid Search

While organic traffic is the most relevant and rewarding, that doesn’t mean you should avoid paid search altogether. Paid ads can be incredibly valuable, as it allows you to target more keywords and test out different campaigns. Plus, when your paid ad appears above the search rankings, it helps to strengthen your brand identity.

  • Putting Off Audits of Your Own Website

Arranging for an audit on your website is important, as it reviews your site’s performance from the point of view of both the client and search engines, and reveals ways you can improve your website. An audit will also look at SEO, loading speed, the checkout process, and the quality of content.

  • Not Creating Unique Meta Descriptions for Pages

A meta description is a short blurb – around 155 characters – that summarizes your page content. Optimizing your meta descriptions is a critical component of on-page SEO because search engines will display your meta description in search results mostly when the phrase being searched for is in your meta description.

  • Placing Important Messaging on Graphics Rather Than on The Page

While graphics can be a great tool for audience engagement, when it comes to SEO, any information included in the graphic will be ignored by search engines. Since the Google crawler doesn’t recognize text contained in images or graphics, it’s crucial that you avoid putting important information like names and links in your graphics and use text instead.

10. Can I Do SEO Myself?

While a professional marketing agency will generate better results quickly, you can still do your own SEO if it’s something you want to try. But you will only be successful at it if you have the proper knowledge and resources.

Here’s a guide from Google: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide

If you decide to do your own SEO, here are some tools you can use to help you with optimization:

Benefits of Hiring an Agency

While some businesses can find success doing their own SEO, it doesn’t always work let alone yield the best results. Don’t leave the success of your SEO efforts up to experiments and guesswork. Without the proper knowledge and experience with SEO, you could end up doing your business more harm than good. For this reason, businesses that are about to dip their toes into the SEO pool should consider finding an experienced marketing agency specializing in these services to help map out a tailored SEO strategy for optimal results. A marketing agency will also track your progress and make adjustments to make sure you are on the right path and will achieve the best possible results.

Read More: Finding The Right SEO Company

An agency will work with you to evaluate your website, your goals, and your competitors in order to develop a comprehensive plan that will help increase your visibility in search results and ultimate boost your conversions.

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