Why a user-first approach to SEO is important


In the search engine optimization business, we spend so much time thinking about Google algorithms, sitemaps, and backlinks that we sometimes lose sight of the main goal: providing useful information to human visitors.

In the past, it was easy to see why. You can stuff your page with keywords, add some meta tags and voila! Your site was on the first page of search engine results.

Google has rightly realized that this is not the best way to provide top-quality answers to search queries, so it has adjusted its algorithms. Evidence of Google’s interest in improving user experience (UX) can be found with updates such as Panda February 2011, Basic online indicatorsand others basic updates that happen regularly.

This does not mean that you can completely abandon aspects of traditional SEO and that keywords are no longer important. Search engines still consider the fundamentals of SEO.

But organic search now also depends on implementing a user-first approach.

So how do you do it? Here is a list of five steps you can take to make your website more user-friendly and hopefully climb even higher in the search engine results page.

1. Learn the basics of design

You don’t need to master the skills of a graphic designer to improve UX, but you do need a better understanding principles that includes good design is an important tool to have in your tool belt.

Understanding these principles will allow you to make decisions that will give your website users a better experience, a more natural flow, and an overall better enjoyment of using your website.

When choosing to take design courses, make sure you work with a professor/instructor who can explain the psychology behind what they are teaching you.

Understanding the psychological impact of design is the most important element of what you should learn—the “why” behind what you’re introducing—so that your decisions have the desired effect on your users.

2. Eliminate existing user pain points

If you’ve been working with a site that’s been around for a while and you’re worried about running into problems with users, don’t be afraid to use the data to your advantage.

The first place you should start is Google Analytics. Assuming you have this set up correctly for your site, you can pinpoint where users are leaving your site.

You may find it useful to set up heat mapping and recording.

Heat mapping software allows you to see exactly how people interact with your pages.

Some systems even allow you to record your screen, so you have first-hand insight into how users are navigating your site—and what’s stopping them from converting.

Once you have this data, you’ll be able to make better decisions about ways to improve your pages and give users the experience they’re looking for.

Having this data can even help you re-evaluate exactly what your users hope to get from your website.

3. Try all things

Once you’ve collected your information, you shouldn’t jump right into making changes to your website. While this information has helped you identify potential problems, it is not meant to give you all the answers.

When I discover a problem or want to make a significant change to the layout on a page, I always set up an A/B test to make sure the change is right for my users.

If you don’t know A/B testinghere you take two versions of the page and split the traffic between the two.

Then, over a certain period of time and number of users, you analyze which version of the page was better for the goal you want to improve (this is usually related to conversions)

If this statement piqued your interest, it might be time to learn more about it Conversion rate optimization (CROATIA).

The data you gather from your A/B testing efforts will tell you whether your hypothesis about addressable pain points is correct, and it will also tell you whether you’re moving in the right direction to solve the problem.

If your new version of the page doesn’t pass the test, you may need to go back to the drawing board and try something else.

While you won’t win every test you try, at least you’ll be taking steps to improve your site with data to support your actions.

This is why testing is so important; you want to make sure the changes you make help – not hurt.

4. Give the people what they want

In the long run, it’s all about balance. If you’re only focusing on attracting search engines, you may be missing the mark with your audience.

If you only work on your website from the user’s perspective, you will more than likely miss out on other elements that search engines value.

Once you find that happy medium that allows you to keep both users and search engines in my mind, I’m sure you’ll see positive results from your efforts on both sides.

5. Never stop learning

In any form of digital marketing, it’s important to maintain a desire to keep learning and improving.

Just as Google will never stop changing its search algorithm, you should never stop exploring new ways to attract visitors to your website and find ways to improve your search rankings.

Expanding your knowledge, not only in your field, but also in other fields that may affect your work, is one of the most key skills an expert may have.

Experience is everything

UX isn’t for everyone – that’s what the entire field of web design is for. You might even have a UX expert working for your company.

However, it is important for SEO, so you cannot afford to neglect it or even minimize it.

You need to put yourself in the shoes of the person visiting your website.

Do they have a good track record? Or are they disappointed? Is your website responsive to the needs of mobile users or are they trying to maximize the desktop version?

Never forget that the connection between user experience and search visibility not only exists, but seems to be growing in importance. And while hopefully your site doesn’t need a major overhaul, taking a few steps to improve usability can pay big dividends.

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