With the rising popularity and importance of search marketing online, Google has become the number one authority in all search-related areas. And if Google has made anything clear after implementing its algorithm update “Google Panda” in 2011, then it is that one of the company’s top priorities has become providing users with the best possible search experience.
This is very important for anyone owning or operating a website, because it directly impacts your content strategy as it relates to search engine optimization (SEO). Google Panda heralded a new era in SEO and organic traffic management when its “crawlers” and “bots” learned how to recognize human (as opposed to robotic) behavior by analyzing meta information revealing how actual (human) users engage with your site.
As a result, the user experience could no longer be an afterthought, because it started to directly impact how Google and other search engines would rank your site; to the contrary, user experience now had to become one of the first and most important factors to consider for anyone interested in building a real audience and successfully establishing a brand online.
Let’s take a look at six user experiences that impact your SEO and organic traffic.
1. Responsive Design
In the context of SEO, design does not simply refer to a “nice look” of any given website, which of course is also important as it enhances your users’ experience and might keep them on the site longer.
Design here also refers to technical considerations like making the website “responsive” so it can adapt its layout based on the browser or device it is viewed on; responsive design will most definitely make it easier for your viewers to experience your site.
In fact, over the last few months, Google has been sending out a notifications to its users saying that “Your site’s mobile-friendliness is now considered as a Google Search ranking signal.”
2. Usability and Navigation
This includes improving your site’s load speed, offering intuitive navigation tools (e.g. recommended articles directly related to the subject based on which a user landed on your site), and making the overall design of your website “easy on the eyes.” Try, for example, to avoid flashing images or uploading uncommon file formats that might not open in every browser. And definitely try to stay away from too many pop-up ads as these can definitely disrupt the user experience.
3. Relevant Content
While it is certainly tempting to include certain keywords or key phrases in your content, even if they might not be relevant to the content at hand, to increase your search visibility and chance to receive back-links, you should refrain from doing so.
The problem is that they might cause users who used those key words in their search query to land on your site, only to realize that the content does not relate to what they were searching for. As a result, your bounce rate goes up and your search ranking down.
Instead of focusing on keywords, shift your mindset to creating relevant content that will satisfy users who might land on your site. Google will reward you for it, because its crawlers will recognize that the user experience has increased and will keep customers happy with relevant search results.
4. High Quality and Credible Content
Relevancy isn’t the only factor search engines will take into consideration when evaluating your site’s user experience. High quality and credibility are two additional and very important factors, which, in fact, go beyond the confines of your website. While it is crucial to make your content not only relevant, but also interesting, entertaining, or highly informative (all considered quality factors), it is your social media presence and user accounts on other third party sites that establish your credibility.
In short: make it easy for users to share your content in an elegant way that doesn’t disrupt the overall experience. The easier you make it for your users to share content from your site, the better your chances of getting additional exposure and earning credibility points.
From a search engine perspective, shared links and videos (especially YouTube when it comes to Google) are considered votes of confidence and a sign for popularity.
6. Fresh, Frequent, and Solid Content
Try to update your site with fresh content as frequently as possible, so that your users have reason to come back without the risk of getting bored. However, don’t let the pressure of higher frequency affect the quality of your content.
Nick Rojas is a business consultant and writer. He enjoys writing about social media, marketing, small and large businesses. You can connect with Nick on Twitter.