The new Era of search engine optimisation.
Recently search engine giants are concentrating on how to increase the user experience they provide. Google, Bing and even Apple are investing time to update their search engine algorithms to rank websites according to the quality of the content they provide, in their search engine results. Recently introduced Panda updates of Google are an example. But most of these algorithms are based on web robots browsing through the pages of the World Wide Web, and are unable to simulate the actions of a real user. Developing algorithms out of feedbacks received from a large number of individual users is also not feasible.
So the search engines started to define what exactly a user experience should be. So they incorporated various parameters like mobile optimization, site speed, site layout, originality and quality of content and many more into their algorithm updates to ensure user experience.
So how this game changing move would affect online marketers and Search engine professionals?
This move marks an exit from the era of Search Engine Optimization and a new era of Search Experience Optimization has come. Now let’s understand how good this news is for an online marketer. I would say this is excellent news for someone who follows all search engine rules and policies. But for the ones who resort to black hat techniques to increase their traffic, this is some real bad news. The whole idea behind the algorithmic updates is to discourage websites which focus more on money than providing quality content for users.
Now when user experience has become so important, what should be our approach to optimise our websites according to user preferences? Here I am going to discuss about some ideas to provide better user experience and thereby secure higher search engine rankings for your website:
Provide the right answers
Before the strict algorithm updates by search engines, online marketers and SEO professionals were obsessed with terms like keyword density, Meta descriptions etc. Finding out the most searched keywords and using them all over the content was the common SEO trick. This was increasingly hampering the user experience. Search engines decided to fix this issue. They want everyone to get accommodated to the changes made by them so that original and value adding content is encouraged.
So while designing your website and adding your content, don’t waste your thinking about the number of types some keywords appear on your content. But think about how your content us going to provide solutions to the problems raised by users. And that is how you enhance user experience.
Era of Mobilegeddon.
Have you heard about the term “mobilegeddon”? This is the name given to major search engine algorithm update released by Google. Through this update Google provided better search engine visibility for sites that are optimised for a mobile platform over their other competitors. This was indeed a path breaking change in the SEO community and traffic for many websites was affected. When this update took place, 40% of the Fortune 500 websites were not mobile optimized and the update affected the online presence of many biggies in a bad way.
Through this update Google made it loud and clear, it’s time to cater to the needs of mobile internet users. Website with lots of animations and images won’t be suitable for a mobile user as they have limited bandwidth, limited amount of data and lesser speed than the desktop users. So websites should have a minimal version which would load easily in a mobile device.
The recently released AMP pages (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is a solution developed by Google to help website owners and online marketers in designing mobile optimised web content. Even Apple is developing algorithms to cater to the actions of their mobile users. So it’s critical for websites to get adapted to the mobile era.
Learn from user experience metrics
Once you have taken enough measures to provide optimized web content and a good mobile experience, next step is to find out how the changes you made is affecting the user experience. There are free tools like Google Analytics to do this job for you. There are different metrics like bounce rate, time spent on site, pages per visit, return visitor rates, conversion rates etc which could give insights about the user experience provided by you.
Search engines make use of their internet browsers to get data regarding what people are doing on internet. They use this data to understand whether users are having a positive user experience on a particular website. Websites providing better user experience are rewarded with a higher ranking in the search results.
Role of Social Media
And lastly an effective use of Social media can have a positive impact on your search engine rankings. This is exactly the reason for which most companies; regardless of how dry and boring their industries are, actively participate in Social media sites like Twitter, Face book, Instagram, LinkedIn etc. This is not because they expect customer turnout in large number from these sites. This is because they are aware that, the search engines judge the user experience provided by the company, through various signals they receive from social media.
People like to talk about an experience they enjoyed. So imagine if you could open a platform in social media like a face book page for your company for the users to express their experience. This could have a positive effect on your search engine rankings as Google would reward you for the user experience you provided. Posting links about various products in your website and other important information are also helpful.
Another important medium to help in getting positive social signals is blogging. These days most of the websites have blogs associated with it. Blogs serve dual purpose. On one hand it’s a source of valuable and informative content for the users enhancing user experience. At the same time, by sharing these blogs on your social media platforms you can increase your social media signals.
So metrics like keyword density won’t be helping you anymore in getting high search engine rankings. Search engine biggies like Google have made it clear that it’s the user experience that matters most. So welcome to the era of Search Experience Optimization.