By Simran Divatia & Rebecca Allen, SEO Associates, Merkle
It’s not all about keywords and backlinks anymore – the focus now has shifted to approach SEO strategies from a user-first perspective. Positioning great user experience as the main priority of your site has the knock-on effect on improving various aspects of content and technical SEO while helping your brand to create a site that users want to stay on and engage with.
Here’s how to enhance user experience on your site by following our 8 SEO considerations.
Improving site speed to deliver brilliant customer experiences
Google’s mission to build a ‘better web’ is shifting its emphasis towards user experience. Through the Core Web Vitals algorithm, they are making it increasingly hard for websites to rank well if they have a poor mobile experience. The algorithm goes further than just demanding speed and focuses on the irritating shifts and delays that occur on many sites. It’s not difficult to recall a time when you were browsing a page and tried to click on something, only for a pop-up to cause the website to shift leading to you clicking on something totally different. Negative experiences like this can push users to abandon the site and instead choose a competitor to complete their goals.
User frustration and high bounce rates due to unsatisfactory websites have always existed, but the additional pressure of losing top ranking spots due to poor user experience has compounded this issue. Brands now must consider a high-performance website as an SEO must rather than a nice to have.
Take advantage of holiday peaks to capture seasonal search interest
For retail and e-commerce sites, ahead of the Q4 peak of Black Friday and Christmas is a key time to make sure that your SEO is at its best. Keeping an eye on trends from recent months, plus last year’s shoppers, can help you to make the most of your seasonal content. From gift guides to Black Friday sales pages, there are a few best practices to keep in mind when getting ready for the festive season:
- Keep the same seasonal pages each year and update the content to maintain previously established authority
- Use gift guides to target broad search terms that category pages alone may not be able to incorporate naturally. Gift guides can also help brands target new users who may not have heard of your brand
Make sure your holiday launches and sales pages are ready with plenty of time to be crawled and indexed by search engines
Grab attention on results pages with featured snippets and rich results
Structured data is an extensive part of SEO that is often underutilised. From industry-specific to content-specific schema, it helps to illuminate the nature of website content to search engines and users. For example, on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) with competing products and services, having a rating schema mark-up to show users how customers have rated your offering can elevate your result and make it stand out from that of a competitor’s.
With Google’s capabilities for rich results increasing constantly, and with it the visibility of ‘zero-click’ results on SERPs, it is worth looking at your website and considering what structured data your brand could benefit from implementing.
Bridge in-store and online experiences
How up to date is your Google My Business listing? Local listings provide a great space to engage and interact with your audience through reviews and questions, particularly as many markets begin to move out of Covid-19 restrictions. While online shopping is growing in popularity, around half of consumers still see value in shopping in-store. If you have a brick-and-mortar location, keeping your local presence accurate, detailed, and active can help to give a better first impression of your brand, and encourage users to interact. When it comes to your local listing, some key considerations are:
- Answering reviews and questions to improve user experience
- Up to date information and announcing news or changes through local posts
- Relevant and appealing photos that make users want to visit your location
- Clearly laying out a location’s services, health and safety regulations, and accessibility
Local information is not limited to just your Google or Bing listing – make sure that your website makes it clear to users how they can find physical locations near them and give the details of unique in-store experiences to attract more consumers. With detailed and informative local landing pages and local listings, you can make it easier for users to engage with your brand online and in-person.
Integrate PPC and SEO channels for more efficient strategies
If you are running paid per click (PPC) campaigns alongside your SEO strategy, it is important to look at them as a collaborative effort instead of taking a siloed approach. By integrating your strategy, you can consider plugging gaps and weaknesses in your organic performance with paid spend until your pages improve in rankings.
It is also important to recognise how changes aimed at improving user experience on the site benefits both organic and paid channels. For example, optimising page performance not only benefits users and helps the page to rank well, but also improves the quality score of the landing page which in turn reduces the cost per click (CPC).
Don’t underestimate the power of Voice Search
Voice search is on the rise – more than 50% of users turn to mobile voice assistants for search, with most looking for quick facts, but also for nearby businesses, products, and services. As that number continues to increase, it is more important than ever for brands to consider how they can leverage SEO to improve how they appear in voice search results.
Results that come through on voice results are usually lifted from the top three results on the SERP, particularly featured snippets and rich results. Because of this, optimising your content for Voice Search goes hand in hand with SEO best practices regarding targeting relevant keywords and creating high-quality content. Introducing structured data can further support your voice search goals but encouraging your brand to come through as a voice result hinges on ensuring that your content meets the needs of your audience.
Use internal linking for streamlined user journeys
The impact of making your content findable is not only improving the experience of users on your site, but also ensuring that search engines are rewarding your valuable content. Search engines view the structure of the site and the depth of a page in that structure as an indication of the importance of pages. This means that if you have a great piece of content that users can only navigate to in four clicks from the homepage, search engines may place less weight on the value of this content.
Carefully considering your navigation and implementing internal linking strategies such as an HTML sitemap allows both search engines and users to locate the content easily, while passing authority to content throughout the site. For example, one client who had key pages too deep in their site structure saw a 104% growth in keyword rankings after reconsidering their site structure and implementing internal linking strategies.
Know your audience and tailor your site with content localisation
For international brands, it’s key to remember that different audiences are searching for different terms, like differentiating across sites to capture localised search interest for “duvets”, “comforters”, or “doonas”. Content localisation will make sure that your international audience is easily able to find the information they need and allow your brand to grow visibility and capture search interest across global markets.
Site search is an important place to incorporate content localisation to provide a strong and tailored user experience. Keeping an eye on what most people on your site are searching for and what kind of results that they are getting can help identify any blind spots you may have missed. As online retail grows rapidly, ensuring that customers from all markets can get the best possible experience on your site will allow your brand to stand out globally.
When using SEO as your tool to deliver the best possible customer experience on your site, meeting and surpassing user needs will ensure you stand out against competing brands on results pages and encourage customers to return time and again. Enhancing your SEO strategy to cover multiple customer touchpoints can allow you to build a full-funnel approach, spanning different channels, online, and in-store interactions, leading customers to associate your brand with an unbeatable user experience.