I’ve been talking to a few friends about SEO recently, and I’ve been getting a little bit worried that we’re starting to use too many tricks in SEO. I know Google’s Panda update, which was part of their algorithm, is designed to strip away a lot of SEO techniques, and to really focus on quality content.
I think that’s absolutely the right thing for you to be thinking about in terms of your own website. I think we’ve got to stop thinking about SEO and start thinking about people optimization, sort of a person user experience optimization would be a much better way of thinking about SEO.
So, really, if you want to rank higher with Google, then rank higher with people, and the way to do that is, as well all know, is going to be with good quality content, and with really interesting fresh content. Think about what is a site that you would want to visit, and then, make your site one of those, because that’s the best way to optimize it.
Website development is where the coding magic begins and results in great results in the search engines. This often means moving out of the hands of a great designer into the hands of a great developer. Keyword testing, combined with data on what users do after they hit landing pages, is often overlooked, but this can save you time and money for SEO and UX. This is where the bugs get fixed.
Do yourself a favor. Invest time in testing. Finally, the launch. This is where the fun begins. Marketing and analytics is about understanding your customers, to build sites that audiences want. Sometimes, this means creating content, like videos, real photos instead of stock photos. This will take time to be sure the message is just right.
Begin with research for UX and SEO. Know your website’s purpose, target audience, and what your competition is doing. Planning is about the resources and the steps you need. What do you want to see on your website, and what technologies will depend on what you are building? In design, think about your customers, the messages and the buttons they’ll click. This is the part of the process that requires you to ask real customers what they think and need. Gather content.
The mistake of most SEOs is they say Google looks at “all” of the these signals of user engagement: false. What they look for is the code they can interpret as providing a good UX, and equally important, whether people “pogo-stick” back to search results because they are not happy with your website.
Good user experience design takes complicated processes and makes them seem deceptively simple. So, Apple does this very well. I’m an Apple fan boy, but for example, they took the music industry and made it something that everyone’s grandma could practically do: Loading songs onto their MP3 player upending the world. They did it with tablets. That could have been done very differently by another manufacturer.
So at it’s source, a good user experience designer is looking at taking an approach to software development and putting themselves in the shoes of the end user, not in the shoes of the developer. With websites, by doing this naturally, Google and other search engines read “signals” showing that visitors engage in what you do.
Good UX means dumbing it down, and that does not mean any disrespect to the end user. No one is going to understand your product as well as you do. You really need to take a step back, look at what it is your product is looking to accomplish and break that down into bite-sized chunks, simplify the message, and don’t try to tell everyone everything that your product can do in the first few seconds. If you can do that, then you’re taking the right step toward delivering a good product or a good website.
In case you’re wondering, building a great website continues over and over again. If you do AB testing, small changes can mean bigger conversion rates.