Eternal SEO Weapon: Good User Experience

June 30, 2011 by  Filed under: SEO 

Whether you are writing articles for your blog or creating content for your website, you are providing a service for your audience. For this reason, keeping and increasing the quality of your service should be your first priority. However majority of popular SEO discussions have diverged from this fact. I am writing this article to give you a SEO tip which will be valid and valuable forever.

When you are surfing the internet about website development, you will see lots of tips focused on how to rank well. Telling about ranking better on SERPs, giving useful tips about search engine algorithms… these are great, thank you all for your contribution. But, the sad thing, people are so obsessed with search engine optimization, they almost forget their users.

Which one do you care, users or search engine bots?

If we have the chance to make a public survey with web developers, I think most of them will answer our questions as if search engine spiders are their real customers. Because, modern web community got used to make changes on their web pages regarding only search engine algorithms.

There are lots of myths as far as SEO concerned. The reason behind those myths is people see search engines like mighty demigod creatures. The fact is they are developed by real people and they are developed for real people.

They are not your enemy and you are not at war with them. You don’t need to find some tricks, you don’t need to give them lots of money to rank well for your targeted keywords.

They have their guidelines to make the web a better place, not because they don’t like you. If you are doing some black hat SEO work, you will be banned. In that case, a penalty is something fair. If you are spending your time with cheating or stealing instead of adding some value to the web, you should accept the consequences without blaming search engines.

If a change is good for your users, it is also good for search engines

Please stop spreading superstitious beliefs about SEO and SE. These engines are useful tools which make connections between your website and your potential targeted visitors.

Their main purpose is to make their result pages more relevant, more user-friendly and more spam-free. If you start giving your users a better experience with your website, search engines will recognize that positive change and will increase your rankings.

I know you need some technical examples.

Let’s start with title and description tags. Since they are two main particles that are mostly used at search snippets, they act as a bridge between your website and search engine users. So I am asking you, why should you optimize these two? For search engine spiders or your possible visitors which will look at SERPs and choose your snippet among others?

Secondly, I always wonder why it is called search engine friendly URLs. I mean, understanding the page content just looking at URL is a good thing for user and it is also useful for sending this link or bookmarking for later use, right? Why are we not calling this as user-friendly URLs?

A third one, site speed is becoming more and more important. Then tell me; why do you speed up your pages? Is it because search engines care or is it because browsing on the net just like turning the pages of a book is marvellous for users?

Last example for this part; we are using alternative tags for images. Is it because we need to rank well on image search or is it because some of our users may turn off images in their web browser or are using a screen reader due to a visual impairment?

Optimizing your website for better user experience

How can I track user experience for my website?

There are hundreds of ways to track your users’ thoughts about your website. Some of are,

  • Bounce Rate: You can find it in Google Analytics. If your users don’t want to do that “second” click, it means something is wrong with that specific page.
  • Time On Site: What is going on, why aren’t my visitors staying at least a minute on my website?
  • Pageviews / Visits: Analyze the funnel of your visits and evaluate which pages are doing good, which are not.
  • Social Media: Examine the number and insights of your fans on your Facebook page. Look at your tweets, diggs and likes. Read comments about your pages. Just walk around and listen to people.
  • Report Error: Add a functionality to your web pages where your visitors can warn you easily.
  • Guest Book: Add a guest book where your visitors can comment directly.
  • Natural Backlinks: One of the best methods; if you are getting natural backlinks, follow those links back and read about blog posts, comments and anchor texts.
  • Feeling: Simulate as if you were a guest, browse your website, try to catch that feeling, what is good, what is not.

I wrote these briefly because every website is unique and you need to discover the best methods to track this kind of experience for your site.

What can I do to provide better user experience?

  • Page speed: Try to speed up your pages
  • Lower your ads: Optimize the number of your ads
  • Broken links: Try to fix broken links
  • Reduce redirects: Lots of redirections may harm the user experience
  • User-friendly design: Make your interface useful
  • A/B testing: Try different versions for optimum usage
  • Unique content: Reduce duplicate content issues, make your pages original
  • Interactive pages: Add comments, ratings and modules like that
  • Error-free codes: Who wants to take alerts
  • Neat design: An eye-catching design is irresistible
  • Mobile versions: If your content is suitable, why not?
  • Language preferences: For international websites, this can increase conversions
  • About, contact pages: Be transparent
  • Feeling: Again feel it, make simulations as if you were a visitor and find out the necessary improvements.

These are some of the possible improvements can be made in general. Of course there are lots of specific things which can be made for specific sites.

User experience in future

From time to time I find some discussions about future of SEO and I imagine about the internet concept in future. Maybe, there will be a different search engine which will take the big pie of market from Google. Maybe, searches will be made by voice recognition or face scan. Or maybe, there will be chips inside our brains and they will send impulses to our cells as search engine results.

It is hard to guess what will change on the World Wide Web. The point is human factor will stay same. They will “feel” the same user experience for themselves. They will still “like” your pages if you are doing something extraordinary.

Conditions will change in future, that’s for sure. Search engines will care about different criteria about your webpage; absolutely. Nevertheless something will be exactly same; they will give you rankings regarding the user experience.

As long as you develop your website for your visitors, as long as you provide that great user experience, you will rank well, you will be successful.

About the Author: Aykut Pehlivanoglu lives in Ankara, Turkey. He is Co-Founder and CEO of PB Bilisim since 2007. His company owns a website network which includes well-known ones like Gametator, Worth Of Web and Suggest Me Movie.

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