Why you should put the user first for SEO

Cheryl Luzet - 3 January 2016

If you are designing your business website and starting to think about how you can make sure that your product ranks highly in the search engines, then one of the key things that you need to think about is how you can put your website users first. The website optimisation industry is no longer about being re-active to consumer trends and opinions but rather about being pro-active in understanding your audience and putting them at the centre of your online proposition.

In fact at a recent SEO conference the delegates discussed how the focus within the industry was moving from SEO (search engine optimisation) to SUO (search user optimisation). As we see a rapid change in search technologies from the increase in mobile search to the new voice search options businesses will need to move forward towards building increasingly user centric websites. Of course at Wagada we like to provide the latest innovative techniques to help our clients get to where they want to be on Google, so here are some of the things that we feel you should be focusing on when considering your website optimisation.

Understand your user and get intuitive!

To build a great website you need to really understand what your potential customers want to see on your website and how they will use it. Make use of all the data that you have about your customers from their age to their geographical location, hobbies, interests and the search terms that they might be using. Ask yourself how they interact online, what papers they read and what social media they prefer to use. Once you have collated your data it is recommended that you build ‘personas’ for your customers and refer back to these constantly whenever you are making any changes or developments to your website. Customers want businesses to intuitively understand their needs and to be aware of their preferences and will expect to see this when they search online.

Include search queries that go beyond keywords

The way that your customers search for information online is changing, and as search engines get ever more sophisticated – so should you! You need to look beyond only considering simple keywords which will only take you so far. Instead you could try using long-tail query sites to help you understand the different phrases that people are using to search for your product or service.  You could even search relevant forums online to find out what the demographic that you want to target are talking about, and take a look at any relevant items that are trending on social media such as Twitter or Facebook. You should also look at what search terms your main competitors are ranking for as well because this can give you some guidance as to how your target audience is currently using the search engines.

Make site usability and speed a priority

Getting customers to visit your website is only half the story to successful optimisation. Once they are there you want them to stay and fulfil their purchase. If possible you want the option to upsell to them and of course you want them to keep coming back and to recommend your site to others. One of the best ways to do this is to make your website as usable as possible. To do this you must make sure that it will meet your customer’s needs and deliver what it promises. Make the customer journey through to purchase as easy as possible and think about what information your customers might be looking for and how you can clearly signpost them to it. A key part of a usable site is the speed with which it loads so pay attention to this too. Slow pages or graphics can lose you customers instantly and increase your bounce rate so make sure that your customers can get to your site quickly and easily.

Remember that content is still a vital part of SEO

Content is key in SEO and it is still a vital part of an SUO proposition. However businesses now need to think about content holistically.  Rather than simply generating content as a place to put your keywords start to think about how useful your content is to your user. Google really wants to see articles that have a real relevance to your audience so you need to go beyond just basic content. Think outside of the box when it comes to your product or service. For example a travel company might write not only about holiday destinations but could also offer checklists of what to pack when you go away for the summer or ideas for entertaining children on long flights. By keeping your content fresh and useful you will also encourage your customers to keep on coming back to your site.

Build your own community of online influencers

The power of social media has really increased over the last couple of years and if you can build a supportive community of online influencers who will share and promote your business you could see real benefits. Use your Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts to connect with your audience and keep them up to date with content that they will want to read and share with others. You could also consider connecting to bloggers who are relevant to your product or service and who will be able to help you spread the word online. Make the most of social media to see what topics are being talked about that relate to your business and you can then use them to inform your content and learn more about what potential customers want to see on your site.

Keep up to date with your search results – and those of your competitors!

The search engines are constantly changing and evolving so you need to keep up to date with the world of search engine optimisation. Make sure that you check your rankings frequently as this will enable you to make simple changes as and when you need them rather than suddenly realising that you have dropped down the rankings. It’s also worthwhile seeing what your competitors are doing and keep an eye on the market as a whole. This means that you can then pro-actively respond to any changes that you see and implement any successful ideas that are working well for others.

The world of website optimisation is changing at a fast pace, and as you can see it is vital to keep abreast of any changes within your industry. Build and create a website that has the user at its heart, know your audience and don’t forget about making it fast and usable too. Make the most of what social media can offer your business and build a strong online community. By doing this you should be able to maintain a strong position in the search engine rankings and reap the benefits that this will bring to your business.