Every now and again we meet some fellow web design and marketing folk who really impress us – one such firm of marketing and web designers is LA Marketing, based just over the border in rural Dorset.
We’ve worked together on a few sideline projects and loved their understanding of the good, the bad and the ugly of SEO and their knowledge of UX – so much so we were thrilled when Alison Boyle, Co-Director agreed to be featured in our latest SEO interview!
Alison, I know you and the team over L A Marketing are really passionate about balancing UX (User Experience) against SEO needs for your client websites. Can you tell us what you think the fundamental principles are for giving your online content any chance of ranking well in search?
Yes certainly, first Q&R (Quality and Relevance) used to be measured in Google-terms by the presence of focused keywords and the authority derived from on and off page link building.
Whilst the (non-abuse) of these activities still count towards better rankings, there are new areas of focus that provide Google with a fuller ‘impression’ of a site’s Quality and Relevance.
Not only that but Google has been busy shifting the focus of how it measures ‘quality’ on the web by engineering its structure and algorithms to optimise results based on organic human activity and consumption – instead of feeding the faddy diets of crawlers and bots.
Now search engines have two primary goals for serving good organic results:
• Better understand searcher intent
• Better understand if a page serves that intent
Google are arguably deploying these strategies in an effort to make the web a better place for its users (instead of its residents). So if your website is not providing a good experience for users then it is not serving the searcher’s intentions well and your site will be downgraded as a result.
That could be as simple as having an over-cluttered website where it’s not obvious where a visitor can extract the answer to the question they posed in search, quickly enough.
But actually there are a host of factors, beyond optimised page content, to consider here;
Google is getting better at identifying “bad websites” through technical setup (see the Webmaster Guidelines here: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35769?hl=en )for a full outline of what metrics they use) and also through user metrics.
So Google is increasingly focusing even more on ‘quality’ over ‘quantity’?
Absolutely, their algorithms have become more sophisticated and with Hummingbird will increasingly do so. It has become important to concentrate on the quality of the following aspects of your website:
• Relevant content
• Page speed
• Ease of navigation
• Non spammy, naturalised internal link structure
• No duplicate content
• Page layout
Taking the time to improve these factors will in our opinion seriously help with overall SEO efforts.
How can the average website owner measure the effectiveness of UX in their SEO?
Examples of relevant UX performance stats for website owners or managers to keep an eye on would be:
• Unique visitors
• Social actions
• Number of pages visited
• Average time on page
• Bounce rates
• Exit rates
• Top content
• Top landing pages
All of the above provide strong clues to how you can best optimise your content to meet the needs and behaviours of your visitors, not your SEO or visiting bots.
Are there any other methodologies that should be employed to boost your online presence and do well in search marketing?
Yes, we firmly believe that usability and clarity of thought, ease of use, conversion optimisation and ranking well should all work well together, let me explain further:
Employ a clean and clear design, with little interference in terms of excess imagery, erroneous functionality, or content placed just to fill white space – that has no true relevance.
Ease of use
Carefully place action items and creat eroutes to key points that make sense and have low involvement. The user needs to understand how to reach their goals when visiting a site and they need to understand it quickly. When you build a site around information, action items, and user paths, you build a site that is designed for the benefit of the user.
Using calls to action are a clear way to tell your users what you’d like them to do. Don’t be afraid to tell the user to buy, download, or sign up for something. On the internet, we all respond to calls-to-action much more readily than in our day to day lives.
There’s no point in having a great site that can’t be found. Content & keyword research will always be the cornerstone of your website’s online presence and links are still important as well. Work to find quality links and relevant optimised content and your site will rank well.
Be sure your site is capitalising on all the work you’ve put into it. That means focusing on conversion optimisation through the partnership of SEO and UX.
Alison thanks for agreeing to our UX/SEO interview and for your candid insights, they’ve certainly proved useful for our readers.
So in signing off we’d like to iterate that following these guidelines will be a major first step in the process of developing your site or redesigning a site that needs to focus more on user experience. You’d be surprised what a difference this activity can have on your website traffic and lead generation too!