Search Experience Optimization

Search Experience OptimizationAll the major search engines are now (more than ever) honing down on user experience and how users best find content online. A challenge for the key search engine players is to fully and accurately mimic a live human being and how that human being finds and consumes content. As of now they fully rely on automated bots to crawl the internet and structure content. It would be nearly impossible for them to rely on a large group of ‘internet patrollers’ scouring the web and reporting their findings and then have the public take this groups word for their findings.

To better humanize the whole process search engine rankings now consist of site speed, mobile optimization, site structure, and content to name a few. So it is time to restructure the idea of Search ENGINE Optimization and start thinking more along the lines of Search EXPERIENCE Optimization. One reason search engines are going this route is to eliminate people trying to ‘rig’ or ‘trick’ the system using black-hat techniques (you will see these attempts to be less and less effective as time goes on).

What to fix? Answer you customers questions.

Instead of focusing on data and more data (meta descriptions, alt tags, etc) it is now important to focus on what your customer is asking during every step of them visiting your website or sales funnel. Ask yourself, “what are my customers typing into Google when searching for my product?” This may seem obvious but people’s search terms have evolved from short sparse phrases to more semantic phrases and even outright questions. Think of all the questions your customer or potential customer might have and have that answer in your website. Help you customer!

Smartphones aren’t going anywhere

Your website needs to be mobile-friendly! (if you need help with converting your current site please contact us!) Mobile search volume has surpassed that of desktop searches. Surprisingly, at the time of Google’s major algorithm change last year (dubbed “Mobilegeddon”) 40% of Fortune 500 companies did not have their website mobile-friendly. It is crucial to do so so that you don’t get trumped down to the bottom of search results. Keep your design clean and minimalistic for mobile and you’ll be just fine.

Watch your data and how your users interact with your site

Using Google Analytics will be just fine here and the key metrics you want to watch for are bounce rates, conversions, time spent on a page, pages per visit, etc. You want to see if you are creating a good user experience for your visitors. Are they viewing more than one page on your site or are they quickly bouncing off your site to go elsewhere? Are they staying on your site and actually reading your content or bouncing off? Once you’ve identified problem areas of your site then it’s time to split A/B testing to find out what works better.

Social Media is still important

Even if your industry has little or nothing to say that is very exciting, it is still important to participate in social media for your business because search engines are still looking at social media presence as a vital ranking factor. The key channels are still Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Also, never stop blogging because blogging creates a ‘buzz’ and people tend to share information they read and share it on social media where word, topics, and ideas spread like wildfire (or have the potential to).

In conclusion, it is obviously still important if you are going to rank for a certain phrase to optimize your page for that phrase or keyword. Today, meta descriptions and keyword density still holds true for ranking higher in search engines. However, the tides are changing, and they are moving to a more common-sense approach where user experience is paramount and the mysterious ‘science’ behind SEO is soon to be something of the past.

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