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Step 8 to SEO: User Experience

Is my website intuitive and frictionless throughout?

If you’ve been following from Step One, you may remember that Step Two: Competitor Research, highlighted UEO as the new SEO. If you haven’t read it, here’s a key takeaway:

SEO is more about user experience optimization (UEO) than optimizing the search engine.

That makes user experience then, your most important focus for getting your site ranked.

And how does UEO relate to competitor research? Well first of all, discovering how to enhance, or in a worst case scenario, dredging your user’s experience up from the bottom of a mucky pond to the surface light of day, starts by watching your competitors with a keen eye.

But there’s more to it than that.

When you created your site, you didn’t create it for silent, mechanical aliens that would follow clickbait like naive school children follow Bobo the Clown. Not even close. You made it for real live people. People with different problems and pain points. People with very personal frustrations and levels of tolerance. People dotting the entire spectrum of tech savviness.

And although you know it is a rather unrealistic desire, your intention is to make every page on your site 100% accessible to everyone who lands on it. And so it should be, realistic or not.

You’ve got to get inside the head of your ideal customer and know what is going to frustrate the crap out of them and do everything you can to avoid creating that kind of experience.

Then, you’ve got to know exactly what makes them stay on your page and eventually convert and feel that it’s one of the best decisions they’ve made this year. And then you create that experience too.

Easy, right? Well, sort of.

The best way to get started is to visit as many websites in your industry as your sweet time allows and note every little thing that makes you want to stick a fork in your eye and every little thing that makes your experience feel like you’re on a first class flight with Emirates. Then compare these features to your own site.

But once you’ve done that, how do you actually know that everything you’ve set in place to create the best user experience is actually, well, the best?

You have to know what your customer wants. And how do you know what your customer wants?

Google Analytics helps track user behaviour so you can get a deeper look at what parts of your site are keeping people engaged, and which ones are encouraging them to take a hike.

Let’s look at the specifics of what GA can track:

  • Where a user entered your site and where they left
  • Their navigation and interaction with your site  (this helps you figure out if your CTAs and internal links are in sensible locations)
  • What device they use to view your site (this helps you further optimize your site for specific devices based on popular use).

(And remember, GA is a free tool).

Now this next tip is a bit Sherlock so prepare yourself:


Ask your customer.

I know, right? It’s like telling someone to check that the TV is plugged in when it won’t turn on, but so many of us ignore the simplest way. Our complex brains like complication.

So how do ask? Check out Step Six: Reviews for tips on how to ask your customer.

What About Information Architecture?

Neil Patel tells us that at the core of the user experience is information architecture. A basic understanding of information architecture is outlined in the image below:

Source: Neil Patel

So now we’ve got the fundamentals outta the way, let’s look at a few more equally valuable components of UX.

Aesthetics

This may seem obvious but we have to ask: Does your website look nice? Is it tidy or cluttered with content and images? Are your chosen colours complementary? Does your logo actually capture the ethos of your business? Is there any possibility that it overwhelms or confuses? Remember, simple is best for any site of any business in any industry. You don’t want to make people work to buy your product or service because they won’t.

Quality and Readability of Information / Voice

A great majority of the adult population cannot read past an eighth grade level so unless your business is highly technical or you, for some reason, require a great deal of nomenclature in your content, then write for the eighth grade reader. If you can’t write, you’re not alone, and there are plenty of professional copywriters out there who can deliver some bang-up content. Choose someone who is able to capture the voice of your business and stick with that person. Using too many different writers will make the voice of your business sound less cohesive and convincing, like reading a novel where the writers change from chapter to chapter.

Now remember, and this is where it falls apart for a lot of businesses: make sure your content is well-researched, quality stuff. People can sniff out bullshit faster than our overpopulated planet can churn it out. Make your shit unique and the stuff of roses, stuff people can actually get something out of.

Extend the Learning Journey

Think of your site as a trip to the science centre. Each station should draw you in, entice you to know more, indulge in your curiosity and fascination about the way the world works. So too should your site about your product or service. Use whatever means are necessary to keep your user engaged. Include links to where they can get more information, whether that’s on your site or an affiliate’s. Use appealing images, photos, videos, or memes that support understanding, that deliver a bit of humour, that invite the reader to further question what they’ve read (and then invite them further down the learning path). In short, give them an experience.

Calls-To-Action

CTAs might be the most important part of your site––where they’re placed and how they call users to convert.

Forget the old, boring “buy”, “purchase”, or “submit”. Get creative (or trust in your content writer to do what you paid her to).

Remember––a user is a person too!

When we’re bogged down by metrics, it’s easy to forget that there are real live people behind those numbers. And what drives most people to buy?

They have some painful, nagging thorn in their side that makes them need your product to remedy their situation.

People don’t buy your product because it looks nice. They buy it because it solves a problem.

Maybe they don’t know they’re in pain, which is why you need to remind them, strategically, at each step of the conversion cycle and use the CTA as an opportunity to highlight, once more, how your product is going to solve their problem. Now make sure that problem-solving actually alleviates their pain rather than contribute to it.

You got this. Leave a comment and let us know what your main UX gem is.

Step 7: Technical SEO


Are My Relevant Web Pages Being Crawled and Indexed?

Do you want more traffic to your site?

Of course you do, and it starts with understanding two key actions taken by Google (and other search engines but we’ll focus on Google): crawling and indexing.

Your pages are being crawled, and if you want them to be, they’re also being indexed. How frequently they’re being crawled and indexed is the major question.

Let’s start by defining these two key terms.

What is crawling?

Google’s Spider crawler constantly searches for new web pages and finds them because of links to a page. Once on a particular page, Google will follow the path your page leads them down through your links to other pages on your website. When the crawl is done, they’re indexed.

It’s that simple… almost. We’ll get to what can influence the frequency of crawling.

But first,

What is indexing?

Simply put, indexing is gathering and processing the information acquired during the crawl and adding web pages into Google’s search engine.

Being indexed is not the same thing as being listed in Google’s SERPs. When a page has been indexed it has been downloaded to the server of the search engine; a site doesn’t have to be indexed to be listed.

And in some cases, you may not want your page to be indexed, such as when it has thin or no-value content, for example, thank you pages, login pages, and internal search results pages. In that case, you want to insert a no-index tag, which means that although your page is still being crawled, it’s not added to Google’s search index.

The take-away: Index only the most important parts of your website.

Note: Every WordPress post and page is indexed automatically but to improve your search results, you need Google to re-index your site frequently (use Google Search Console to find out how often your site is being crawled).

Your site is probably already being indexed but if it’s new, there’s any easy way to check:

Enter site:yourdomain.com into Google’s search bar. If you’re indexed, the SERP should look like this:

If not, it will return a message that your search did not match any documents.

If that’s the case, it doesn’t mean you have to sit back and wait for Google to notice you. It’s kind of like seeing that perfect potential mate from across the room. If you sit there and wait for him or her to approach, you may be waiting a very long time. Alternatively, if you take action and make it happen, chances are you’ll have a date. Google is a little less risky though, they won’t reject you if you follow the right steps.

But, like dating, indexing is not a one-time deal that gets you where you want to be. You need Google to keep re-indexing your site because they don’t update automatically.

How can you get your site crawled and indexed more frequently?

Google offers us the following tips to improve our page indexing:

  • Create short, meaningful page titles.
  • Use page headings that convey the subject of the page.
  • Use text rather than images to convey content. (Google can understand some image and video, but not as well as it can understand text. At minimum, annotate your video and images with alt text and other attributes as appropriate.)

(Source).

What other major factors affect indexing?

Regular new quality content that is relevant and doesn’t break any rules (see below) is one of the primary ways. Add new, relevant, and user friendly, high-quality content regularly and update existing content by creating a content marketing strategy. Have a look here at how that’s different from a simple content strategy:

Include the primary keyword in your domain name.

Use high quality backlinks that are reputable and trustworthy.

Internal links are a great practice for SEO and for keeping people engaged on your websites and answering their questions the second they come up. When linking to a section in the same page, use the same anchor text to encourage deep crawling.

An XML sitemap is a roadmap to help Google look deeply into your website because it lists every URL. A variety of plug-ins are available that you can use to generate a sitemap. For WordPress, use Yoast SEO.

WordPress Ping Services automatically notifies search engines that your site has been updated with new content, which keeps those bots crawling and (hopefully) indexing.

What prevents Google from indexing a website?

Playing by Google’s rules will keep you in their good books––their index, so avoid the following:

  • Duplicate content
  • Keyword and meta-tag stuffing

In some cases, you may want to prevent Google from indexing your site. See their support guide for some simple guidelines.

DeltaGrowth logo

DG’s Roundup Summary: What SEO or PPC Advice Would You Give Yourself?

I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Delta Growth (DG), a big boy in Toronto’s SEO & SEM industry, specializing in e-commerce. Eugenia, DG’s SEO/PPC Implementation Specialist reached out to some of the industry’s local brainers to ask a SEO/PPC question that few of us ever ask ourselves during our careers:

What advice would have changed your SEO or PPC career?

It’s the kind of question that encourages us to reflect on our business moves of yesteryear. But it also makes us want to nail our thumbs to the floor for the dearth of knowledge our brains now overflow with. If only a DeLorean time machine were as accessible as a Zipcar.

But alas, DG talked to leading SEOs, so we did something right even back then! As a SEO Specialist in Whitby at Logical Mix I was humbled to be regarded in this mix and appreciated the opportunity to reflect on the ghosts of SEO past.

Whether you’re a blogger, consultant, strategist, or a newbie copywriter, Delta Growth’s Round Up about SEO/SEM career advice from leading industry experts may surprise you. It seems success lies in some good old-fashioned values and technical know-how.

Make Great SEO & SEM Relationships

Relationship building is the cornerstone of success in any business. Regardless of how great we are at the technical stuff, there is a person behind every move we make and that person is either going to trust us or bounce. We don’t want bouncers. Stoney Degeyter, Founder and CEO at Pole Position Marketing urges us to always, “focus on the customer, not the algorithms”.  Make the user’s experience your priority. It’s not enough just to know SEO. A grasp of marketing fundamentals is essential to reaching your audience and garnering the staying power that will bump up your conversion rates. What is the crux of Marketing 101? Know your customer. So, know your customer.

Tor Refsland says that if he could go back in time he would have told himself “to grow some b*lls and become uncomfortable much sooner!” He would have started getting new clients right away, face-to-face. So get out there and show face.

Check in with industry peeps too. Nobody gets very far alone. The e-comm community is huge. Learn from as many people as you can. Garner good quality links by offering something of value. Bump up your social media presence.

Give TOFu and BOFu Equal Opportunity

We want to pay attention to everybody at every stage of the conversion cycle so we’ve got to know how to structure our content appropriately. The experts give a few suggestions here. Nail in on long-tail keywords to reach the BOFu kids. Stick to one topic at a time. Create pages to rank for individual head terms and focus on the low-competition keywords in your niche.

But the awareness phase is critical and you can’t gain interest unless you give people something useful. Steve Wiideman insists on links to free tools, guides, and checklists as a marketing strategy for garnering tons of TOFu interest.

Invest In Yourself

It’s easy to forget about our own brand when we’re focused on making it awesome for our clients. John Rampton and Michael Cottam urge us to take the advice we give our clients. Clients come and go with their millions. “What will stick with you is your own brand and assets. Build those and invest as much resources (sic) in those as you would your clients’ sites” (John Rampton, Founder and CEO, with over 1 million Twitter followers). Capitalize on what you practice everyday and know one or two things really well – this is your expertise. And study what you’re not practicing everyday to maintain an edge in the industry.

Craft Awesome New Content Every Week

The demand for high quality content won’t change anytime soon so unless you’re a blackhat you’ll want to maximize your content and repurpose it – a ingenious hack from Oleg Korneitchouk. Several experts commented on how they wished they’d known the value of investing in a marketing campaign, with regular, meaningful content at the top of the priority list. Josh Steimle, Founder of MW1 says it’s simple: “High quality work will attract high quality links. It’s a lot of hard work to create great content, but it’s a simple recipe.”  Good quality content helps the customer alleviate their pains and achieve their goals. This points back to relationships and making our brand trustworthy. But it has to be ongoing. Fresh content each week is essential to high organic ranking and traffic.

Get Your Hands Dirty

We’ve gotta be ballsy in this industry. If we want to know what it feels like to jump out of a plane, we’ve got to jump out of the plane. Take risks with what we know. Research. Experiment. Learn from the results. Experiential learning is the key to forming a knowledge base that will compound over time and support innovation. According to the experts, research and risk are our most profitable investments. Know how to code. Use PPC as a learning mechanism for SEO. Don’t be afraid to try and share with others – remember relationships? Eric Enge sums up SEO & PPC advice the best: “Establish yourself as knowing one aspect of it very, very well. Then, when you’re ready, work on adding a second area of expertise, and get to the point where you are recognized as an expert on that. Keep expanding on those things over time.”

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*Full article here: Round Up: What Advice Would’ve Changed Your SEO or PPC Career?

cars in dark traffic jam at night with lights on

Does My Search Engine Marketing Have Dark Traffic?

Dark Traffic Makes A SEO’s Life More Interesting.

Dark traffic is statistically usually under “Direct Traffic” in Google Analytics, and is being referred from an unknown/untraced source (and for some reason being lumped into Direct Traffic).

As a SEO, you must try to figure out where this website traffic is coming from. Get the credit you deserve.

What does this Mean for My Search Engine Marketing?

It means you have to search for stats in other places and on your own. You can also help your company by adding some tools to your arsenal. You’ll never be able to track 100% of “Dark Traffic”, but from our research, this is the best article to read regarding Dark Traffic. That article should send you on the right path.

We Hope That Helped

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Stacked Gold Bars

Why Rich Snippets Help Your Company’s Search Engine Marketing

Rich snippets are a fancy way to spruce up your Google search results within search engine listings.

They don’t necessarily enhance your search engine optimization (SEO), but they do improve your Click Through Rate (CTR). The jury is still out on the search engine ranking effects. Some have reported a SERP improvement.

The most common rich snippets we see are reviews with “Star Rating”. Rich snippets come in many forms though, such as: videos, images, event times, addresses, phone numbers, etc.

The enhancement is real, and positively reflects your search engine marketing efforts.

The end is result desired is almost always quality website clicks funnelling into leads for your business. If this statement is true for your business, continue reading more about rich snippets and how to implement them on your website.

Get A Plugin.

This is the most cost effective way to get rich snippets representing your business online. You could get a developer to code it in for you, but that is a much pricier option.

Here’s a relatively new and great article about Rich Snippet plugins: 5 Best Rich Snippet Plugins

It’s an article about different tools you can use to get rich snippets showing up for your search engine results. Worth the read. Rich Snippets will propel you above the competition.

The Easiest Explanation:

Rich Snippets help your company control what the search engine user sees on the search results page.

This helps everyone in the end. User and Business win!

 

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