The search engine optimization landscape has changed in the last couple of years. Google is continually improving its SEO algorithm to focus on usability. The search engine wants to send traffic to sites that provide users what they want, because that makes their search product more valuable. So the algorithm is changing to reward sites that work well and deliver what they promise on every page.
Any SEO strategy in this landscape must address these realities and provide solutions that will stand the test of time as Google continues to refine its algorithm. Here are three key areas to focus on:
1. User Flow
Your business needs to know how easily users move through your site to find the information or the product they’re looking for. Understanding this user flow is vital if you want to give your site’s visitors a rewarding user experience.
So you need to set a higher standard in evaluating your website’s performance. It’s not enough to glance at raw traffic numbers like page views and unique users. Instead, focus on metrics that show how well you’re meeting business objectives by moving users through your site and converting them into customers. After all, traffic does your company little good if it doesn’t result in new leads, clients, and sales.
Some of the stats that help to measure user flow are:
- Bounce Rate
- Time on Site or on Page
- Exits per page
- Entrances per page
These things can help you see what is motivating your users to act via a click, a phone call, a form submission, or a purchase—or what’s causing users to leave. This is the first step to identifying what you need to do on your site to facilitate these kinds of conversions, and what content and metacontent will connect with audiences who are likely to convert on your site.
By embracing more specific metrics, you can see where you need to improve usability. And the good news is that Google wants to reward sites that are user-friendly. So improving the way traffic moves through your site usually creates ancillary SEO benefits as well.
2. Usability In Search
One of the first crucial steps of any SEO campaign is focusing on optimizing metacontent: URLs, Page Titles, and Page Descriptions. URLs and Page Titles (which appear in a browser tab or header) have significant keyword power in Google’s algorithm. They help your site show up in search more often.
The Page Description improves click-through rates by telling users what to expect and why to click when a site shows up as an organic search result. It is a key part of providing a quality user experience in the search engine itself — before a user even arrives on your site.
3. Mobile Usability
In 2015, Google integrated mobile usability into its algorithm. As a result, sites need to perform well on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) in order to optimize search engine rankings. Of course, mobile performance is also vital for a site to serve its visitors effectively, because more and more users are searching the web via smartphones and tablets.
You can see what percentage of your traffic is mobile via Google Analytics. And Google’s webmaster tools will crawl your site and list necessary mobile usability improvements.
If your site isn’t responsive to mobile devices, it’s past time for an upgrade. And if your site is already responsive, it’s time to analyze and optimize your mobile performance so you continue to connect successfully with the growing mobile user base.
Usability accomplishes multiple goals for your business — improved SEO performance, improved user experience online, and increases in leads and customers. It’s a worthwhile goal for any website, and any business — and one you should focus on as soon as possible.