Designing for UX: Make Your Website for Users

Designing for UX: Make Your Website for Users

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Designing for UX

User experience, or UX, is vital to search rankings. Not only is the best possible UX what Google works towards with each algorithm update, but UX is also what brings users to and keeps them on your website. A poor user experience will result in high bounce rates, which then leads to lower search rankings, no matter how good your SEO is.

Who Is Your Target Audience?

The first step should be figuring out exactly who your website is for. These are the people who will need to like your website and find it useful. These are the people that you need to listen to and even change your website’s design to suit. It can be a good idea to ask users what they want and to make changes to your site accordingly.

TL;DR

There is a lot of content on the Internet and users have only so much time to decide whether or not a website is going to suit their needs. While high-quality content is important, too much information can overwhelm your users and cause them to decide not to continue reading it. Your site’s design should therefore make it as easy as possible for users to find the most important information.

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Meet Users’ Expectations

It’s important to stand out from the crowd, but not at the expense of your users. You can use graphics and images and stellar content to catch your users’ attention. The design of your website, however, should still meet users’ expectations for how a website should be designed. Users won’t stay on your site if they can’t find the information they’re looking for or if a standard feature doesn’t work they way they expect it to.

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Avoid Black Hat SEO

Black hat SEO tactics are considered unethical for a reason – they’re designed to get search engines to notice the website at the expense of the user’s experience. Google has been updating its algorithm regularly in order to penalize sites that engage in these tactics in an effort to improve UX across the Internet. Using white hat SEO instead can improve your search rankings not only by avoiding a penalty but also just by making your site better for its users.

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Put Yourself In the User’s Shoes

While it’s impossible to please everyone, there are some things that are commonly disliked that you can avoid doing. No one likes autoplaying sounds that they can’t turn off, pop-up ads that don’t easily close or pop up more than once, video ads that autoplay and then forcibly navigate the user to the ad’s location, and slow loading speeds. It’s really easy for users to click the back button or to exit out of the web page.

It’s usually pretty clear when a website has been made not for users but in order to advertise or for search engines. These pages have too many ads or the content doesn’t read well because it’s stuffed with too many instances of the site’s keywords. Users can tell when a site isn’t meeting their needs and will not hesitate to visit one of the many other websites on the Internet instead. So whenever you’re contemplating the design of your website, put yourself in the shoes of a user.

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Creating Truly Impactful Content: What Makes Content Top-Notch?

Creating Truly Impactful Content: What Makes Content Top-Notch?

Reading Time: 4 minutes
High-Quality Content

Creating high-quality content is one of the most important factors in search rankings. Google’s aim since the first Panda update has been to create a better experience for users online by providing users with the very best results for their specific query. But how, exactly, do you actually create content with an impact?

Watch What People Are Sharing

What makes something “high-quality” is incredibly subjective. What one person thinks of as good, someone else might not. But in general, high-quality content is what gets shared. Users read it, like it, and then share it with others. Thus, content that is widely shared is generally of higher quality and can be looked to as an example.

Google also watches what people are sharing. The more users that visit a site and the more links there are to a site, the higher that site’s search rankings. The algorithm pays attention to which sites have the most visitors and increases their rankings accordingly, connecting the high visit rate with quality and usefulness.

Don’t Sell (No, Really.)

While it may seem counterintuitive to many who want to sell a product or service, content shouldn’t exist solely for promotion. There are places for direct pitches, or calls-to-action (CTA’s) – and they serve their purpose. But these cases are limited.

Ideally, you want to offer potential customers so much value before they “sign up” with whatever it is you do… that they basically have to hire you eventually. When the time comes, and they don’t want to just hack things anymore, you’re the person they already trust. You’re the authority. You’re the only viable man (or woman) for the job.

For that matter, it’s worth simply making your content enjoyable to read. Most people don’t like to be sold to and will see product promotion for what it is, rather than for quality content worth sharing.

 

Customer service

Focus on Your Customers

Your customers are the ones who will be sharing your content and who will be the judges of its quality. Therefore, you should pay attention to what they want. What are your users searching for? What questions might they be asking? Make sure you provide all of the information they will need and answer questions they may have. Users consider content high quality when it is useful to them and provides information that they want and need. You can use social media to engage with your users, build a relationship with them, and learn what they want so that you can provide it.

Make the Investment

High-quality content is a greater investment than thin content. Depending on your own skill with writing and graphics, you may need to hire someone to create some or all of your content. Even if you don’t need to bring in outside content creators, high-quality content is an investment in time as well. It takes more effort to create higher-quality content and if you’re willing to put the time and/or money into it, it will really show to your users.

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Include Visual Media

High-quality content isn’t just about the text. Content also includes images, videos, infographics, charts, gifs, and even memes. These can help break up the text so that it’s easier for users to digest and comprehend. Visuals can also replace some of the text, making the page look more interesting. Video content especially is useful – videos, especially those embedded from YouTube, can get many views and are easy for users to share.

Keep the Content Coming

An important part of quality content is to add new content regularly. Even the most high-quality, viral content can only be shared so many times before users need something new. Continually adding new quality content to your site is a good way to keep users coming back for more.

 

Customer service

Do Your Research

Part of what makes content high-quality is the information it can provide to users. Well-researched content is far more useful to customers. It’s also important to keep yourself focused on topics (and sub-topics) that you can be an expert in. Spend the time researching what others in your area have written. You can use high-quality content written by others on the same subject as you as an example for your own content.

Be the Expert

The important thing about high-quality content is to put your own take on it. Well-researched content is important, but you need to be the expert on your topic and put your own unique perspective on it. This will give users a reason to visit your site instead of someone else’s and can also give you an edge in search rankings. Users will also have a better reason to return to your site and to share your content with others.

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TL;DR: Helping Users Find the Most Important Content

TL;DR: Helping Users Find the Most Important Content

Reading Time: 3 minutes
TLDR

The attention span of the average Internet user is apparently only eight seconds long - shorter than the attention span of a goldfish (which is nine seconds). While that may not actually be true, it is true that there is a limited period of time to catch users’ attention. There’s a huge amount of information on the Internet and users don’t have the time to read through everything. They have to decide quickly whether the website they clicked on is one that is worth their time to stay on or whether they should move on to the next one.

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Above the Fold

The first place users are going to look is at the very top of your web page. An eye-catching above-the-fold summary or bulleted list of the most important content on your page can help draw their attention and tell them what the page is about. This can help a user determine quickly that your site can provide the content they are looking for. Even if users choose not to delve into the rest of the content on the page, they will still have read the most important points of your content.

Less Can Be More

When it comes to text, less can definitely be more. Too much text can feel overwhelming and may drive users to decide that it’s too long for them to read (thus tl;dr – too long; didn’t read). Homepages especially should contain only vital information, such as what your website and company are all about. Links and navigation menus can help direct users to more content. While it’s important to make sure each page has high-quality content, that doesn’t mean that the content needs to be too text-heavy.

Bulleted Lists

Where possible, you can use bulleted lists to break up text. Bulleted items are also easier for users to read and skim your content. Especially if there are instructions of some kind or a list, some text is best formatted as bullet points. They’re visually easier on the eyes than a huge block of text, are easier to read and digest, and can perform the same function as images to break up text.

Use White Space

While white space on a web page may look like it’s just needing to be filled with something, whether that’s an ad, an image, or more text, it’s actually better to use it as is. Too much content on your page, especially if it’s advertising, can make your page look crowded and overwhelming. White space, also known as negative space, can be a breather for users as they read and process the content on your site. Too little white space can impede the flow of your website and make it look cluttered and disorganized. Plus, users wouldn’t know where to look next.

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A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Million Words

Images are great ways to catch users’ attention and to break up a lot of text on a web page. They can also serve to convey much of the intended content of the page, replacing some of the text. Images are also good for SEO, because not only is the alt text readable by search engines, but the image’s file name can be similarly name with keywords. When it comes to user experience, however, images go a long way towards drawing and keeping users’ attention while preventing them from feeling overwhelmed by large amounts of text at once.

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Video Content

Video content is increasingly popular. YouTube is now one of the biggest search engines in the world and billions of users watch its content. Videos are a great way to introduce content onto your webpage in a way that is engaging and interesting to users. Videos can be used to demonstrate a product, tell a story, share expertise, provide instructions, and more. If there is a video for users to watch, they may stay on your page longer (which in turn can improve your search rankings). Videos can also be used as part of your SEO campaign for your keywords, since not only is YouTube itself a search engine for videos, but Google does display videos in its search results as well.

P.S. – In case you can’t keep up with the young folks’ lingo (like our founder, Amanda Shaffer), TL;DR = “too long, didn’t read” according to Urban Dictionary. 😉

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Social Media and SEO: How to Use Social Media to Boost Your SEO

Social Media and SEO: How to Use Social Media to Boost Your SEO

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Everyone uses social media. Every business has a Twitter, a Facebook page, a LinkedIn account, even Instagram and Pinterest. So how important is social media for SEO? Does it impact your rankings at all?

How Important Is Social Media?

Google has stated that it doesn’t count social media influence in its rankings. Having a lot of likes or followers will benefit you on that social media site, but won’t impact your search rankings. Links from social media don’t count, either. There are just too many posts and comments on social media sites for Google to effectively crawl them. It’s also too difficult to determine the quality of a link posted on a social media site because it’s not necessarily.

But that doesn’t mean that social media posting is useless for your SEO efforts. In fact, it’s quite the opposite – just because there isn’t a lot of direct influence on search rankings doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of indirect influence.

Promote Your Content

Having a good social media presence does give you content visibility. If you have new content, or evergreen content that could be regularly shared, social media posts highlighting this content can bring in visitors. This can also be a part of a linkbuilding campaign. Just because the links you share on the social media site don’t necessarily help your search rankings, the content shared on social media does give others something to link to. Don’t be afraid to share content multiple times - each post may only reach a small portion of your actual audience at a time.

Use Great Images

On social media, the first thing that users see of your post is the image. This image may also help users determine whether or not they want to click on your post or whether they want to continue reading. Images can be eye-catching and draw attention to your posts, similar to having catchy, viral headlines.

You can also optimize the file name of the image (or other media) before uploading it to social media. Title the name of the file by using the keywords that make sense for the image and for your SEO efforts. Best practices are to use a hyphen (-) in between each word in the file name.

Make Your Content More Shareable

You can get visitors to your site to do some of the work for you when it comes to sharing your content on social media. Add social media share buttons to make it easy for users to share your content. This will allow your content to be visible with audiences that you might not be able to reach on your own.

Optimize Your Profile

You can use your profile to create better brand recognition, to help users understand you and your content, and to direct users back to your website. Keep your profile picture and description the same across all of your social media accounts to make it easier for users to find and recognize you on different platforms. Also include a link – your website is usually the best thing to include, but if you have a campaign going on, you can direct users to the sign up for it, for example.

Engage with Your Followers

Organic linkbuilding can happen. But instead of just waiting for users to link to your content on their own websites on their own, you can establish a relationship with your followers. These followers can be turned into true fans of your brand and are more likely to link to your site and to encourage others to visit your site as well. Having more visitors and backlinks does impact your search rankings.

Approach Influencers

If there are social media influencers who could be a good fit with your brand, you can approach them to engage in a mutually beneficial relationship. These influencers can link to your site on their own and can reshare your content. Most likely, this relationship will be reciprocal – they may be willing to share your posts and give you a backlink in exchange for you doing the same for them.

Advertising Opportunities

Most social media platforms have opportunities for paid ad campaigns. With the number of users on each social media site, this can be a great opportunity to reach users who may be interested in your brand but who may not already be a part of your audience. Similar to paid ad campaigns with Google, you can select which audience you want to target with a social media ad campaign. On Facebook, for example, you can boost specific posts to use as the ad that you want more users to see.

Indirect SEO

Search engines may not use social media directly to calculate search rankings with their algorithms, but your social media presence can still have a great impact on your search rankings. Social media can drive users to your site, provide you with a greater audience for your content, and can even generate opportunities to create backlinks. There are a lot of benefits that can come from having a good social media presence that can indirectly affect your search rankings (site traffic and backlinks do directly affect your search rankings). This means that social media is still a part of SEO.

Need some help growing your web presence and strengthening your brand? You’ve come to the right place.