Using SEO to rank high on Google’s SERPs has traditionally been the go-to method for building web traffic, but there’s actually something that just might be more effective. It’s called “user experience”, or simply UX. While a great ranking will get people TO your site on an initial search, what brings them back again and again is a site that offers a great UX.
Think about how you can create compelling content or a compelling experience for users.
Both UX and SEO have their own particular role in generating and sustaining traffic over time. However, those who routinely visit and recommend your site are not doing so because of your meta tags or anchor text, but because there is something worthwhile to be shared.
Creating Great UX
Your specific product and the audience you want to reach will determine your choices, but there are some basics to creating a winning user experience across the board.
- Appealing Content – In other words, write for your users not for Google. If readers expect technical information, then skip the fluff. Fans of a travel blog will want rich descriptions of what there is to see and do in an area. The SEO can be built in once you create the best content that will appeal to your readers.
- Ease of Navigation – When users land on your home page, how easily can they navigate to other parts of the site? If they don’t enter by your home page, are there clear menus to help them find their way around? Difficult website navigation leads to frustrated users who will look elsewhere for their information.
- Layout and Design – Are page items jumbled together or well-spaced and eye-catching? Is the font size easy to read? Are your colors, logos and images well-designed and well-placed, making your overall site aesthetically pleasing?
- Flash – Don’t use it.
- Intuitiveness – Give visitors what they expect to find. Easy to use forms, links that are found quickly and easily and interactive features that function as the user might expect them to, all work together to create a sense of predictability and satisfaction for the user. Like difficult navigation, not getting the expected result frustrates visitors.
- Site Speed – If content takes longer than two or three seconds to load, visitors will not wait around to see what you have to offer. Slow website speed gives the impression of a lack-luster company that doesn’t care about its customers. (On the SEO side, Google actually uses site speed as part of its ranking methodology).
- Image Management – Using text-based rollovers and image alt tags on your images satisfies both UX and SEO requirements.
- Mobile – Your site needs to display clearly on mobile devices and tablets using responsive design. There’s just no room for excuse any more. Mobile search accounts for well over 30% of traffic on most sites today.
Pulling It All Together
Step back and take a critical look at your website. A great message alone isn’t enough to stand on. UX is also about how the site looks and performs, and how easily your readers can absorb your message. On the flip side, no one will find your fantastic site without robust SEO.
The right mix of UX and SEO creates a winning combination for both you and your visitors, but remember that an awesome user experience keeps them coming back for more.