Search engine optimization (SEO) is a great way to promote your website, raise sales, and build a presence in the online community. As search engines become more sophisticated and users become more accustomed to streamlined style, one of the most important SEO best practices is making sure your website is easily accessible to both parties. Never neglect one in favor of the other.
The Importance of User Experience
It’s easy to simplify SEO into building websites only for search engines, but those using these strategies forget that their target audience is the people visiting their website…not the search engine. Your website should provide a positive user experience in order to gain authority and a following, which is important regardless of what type of website you are building.
While some SEO tactics may vary between types of websites, many are applicable across the board. One important thing to understand about balancing SEO is that a positive user experience will yield habits that search engines recognize and reward.
- Click through rate (CTR), or how many pages users access in a row. A website that has a good user experience will encourage visitors to proceed through the website rather than leave the website after viewing only one page.
- Time spent on an individual page. A website with a positive user experience will engage the visitor enough to stay on the page longer.
- Popularity of pages/site, or the number of people visiting your site, the number of authoritative websites link to you, etc. The more people like their experience on your website, the more likely they are to share it and return to it.
So how do you encourage these user habits? Making your website findable is only one part of the puzzle. In addition, you should strive to make your website functional, valuable, attractive, reliable, and accessible.
Functionality: Working Websites
If a website is broken or confusing, users will likely get frustrated and leave. Here are a few questions you can ask to see if your website is properly functional:
- Can users find what they’re looking for easily? Your website’s user interface design should have a logical flow that guides visitors to what they need or want. Links, headings, and calls to action can help draw the visitor’s eye to what they’re looking for, but don’t over-do it or visitors will feel overwhelmed. Keep your website clean and organized.
- Are there any broken links? All links should lead to existing and up-to-date pages. Make sure any old links are redirected to new ones.
- Do your pages take a long time to load? Attention spans on the internet are short lived. Keep your website from overloading people’s computers.
When visitors easily interact with a functional website, they are more likely to spend more time there, which improves the site’s standing on search engines.
Value: Original & Useful Websites
Find the right balance between conforming to what users expect and adding flair to make your site stand out.
- Does your website answer questions the intended user would have? Addressing the user’s intent is both an art and a science that relies on keyword research and quality content. Make sure the contents of your pages are needed and wanted by users, or they will be useless to everyone.
- Are you offering more than your competition? If your website only offers the same options or information as similar websites, you won’t stand out enough to be noticed. Stay relevant by following trends and building off your popular pages.
When you build a valuable website, users are more likely to share their findings on social media or their own websites. Not only does this content improve your brand’s reputation, but these links will raise your site’s authority on search engines.
Attraction: Desirable Websites
The internet relies primarily on one sense: sight. Therefore, it’s crucial that your website appear visually attractive to keep users from dropping your site in favor of another.
- Does your website look out-of-date? Users have certain stereotypes about what a modern website looks like. Keep track of when overall expectations change and adjust your site accordingly.
- Are you seducing your users? Bring users to your website by creating intriguing meta descriptions, attention-grabbing titles, and dynamic graphics. Warning: stay relevant, stay reliable (see below), or you’re likely to lose your audience for good.
With an attractive website, your visitors will be more likely to engage with your site, causing perks like a higher click through rate. Often these perks translate well with search engines.
Reliability: Trustworthy Websites
Lying will get you nowhere. It’s important to gain a user’s trust by being honest with your content.
- Does your website provide accurate information? Even if you don’t intentionally lie on your website, it’s easy to slip up and accidently provide incorrect information. Fact check your sources before repeating them and don’t mislead users by omitting important information.
- Do you link to trustworthy websites? Just like people judge people by their friends, users (and search engines) websites are judged by the websites they link to. Link building to untrustworthy websites could ruin your website’s—and possibly your company or brand’s—reputation.
Building a trustworthy website helps ensure visitors will return to your website and share it with friends. This trust promotes your site’s authority, putting you higher in search engine’s rankings.
Accessibility: Relevant Websites
If you know your target audience, it’s easer to make your website intellectually accessible.
- Does your target audience feel comfortable on your website? Language, graphics, and layout can either appeal to or annoy visitors. Don’t go over their heads and don’t talk down to them. Find a happy medium that will appeal to your audience.
- Are you neglecting potential visitors? Sometimes we miss out on attracting customers because we don’t consider them in our target audience. Always be on the look out for how you can expand your website’s influence and react accordingly.
An accessible website will keep you from isolating your customers and encourage healthy user habits.
Need Help With Your Website’s Design?
If you need help designing a website that will give visitors a positive user experience, contact jWeb Media today.