Does SEO Conflict with User Experience?

If you work with an SEO expert, you have encounter times when her recommendations or priorities conflict with the overall goal of improving the website. This will happen when content changes on the website are written for search engines and not for real people.

Let’s look at an example:

Say you are responsible for your company’s website experience. You sell books online, and some of your key pages are not the product pages for the books themselves, but the category pages for each genre of book that you sell. Your SEO expert tells you that “true crime books online” is a high volume keyword and so recommends adding that phrase into the text of the page sporadically, including in the main heading.

On the surface this is no big deal, but once the copy changes are complete, the page reads as if a robot wrote it and in the language that we use to communicate with other human beings every day, it sounds funny.

That’s because your SEO expert is writing for the search engines.

What should you do in this instance?

In my experience, user experience has to win out over SEO. While I agree that SEO is critical to any site’s success, at the end of the day you have created your website for people to use. And the user experience is priority number one.

A good SEO strategy understands that the user is the champion. We are solving for the user first, and the search engines second. And so every recommendation or assignment that they come up with should factor in the end effect on the user.

Most times, there is no conflict. Search engines prefer a page that loads faster, so does the user. Search engines prefer a domain with higher authority, so does the user. Search engines prefer a page that answers the question a user types in, so does the user.

Where conflict exists, it usually comes down to the phrasing that is used in the website copy. And though every attempt should be made to include text that searchers will use to find you on Google, it still must be written so that it can be read and understood easily.

Because at the end of the day, you are writing for the user.

Powerful Web Design Tips to Transform Your Website Into A Conversion Driven Success (Guest Post)

James Robertson is a passionate digital marketing expert who has worked alongside many great companies. He currently writes for CoFlex Marketing and is passionate about helping his clients succeed. In his spare time, he enjoys going to the gym and working out.

Your website, while being your asset in the digital sphere, also forms an essential part of your business strategy. In short, it helps build your brand equity, communicate with your target audience and drives sales.

As a result, driving traffic to your website is an important focus of your marketing efforts. However, traffic alone will not help your business thrive. Sales, the very lifeblood of your organisation, makes the difference between success and failure. And ‘conversion’ is what transforms visitors into revenue. Conversion can mean visitors entering their email address to download an e-book or book a trial of your product, make an enquiry about your offering or buy what you sell. It goes without saying, you must give ‘conversion’ its due importance when you design your website.

4 powerful web design tips to transform your website into a conversion-drive success:

1.       Pay attention to your landing page

When a visitor arrives at your website (via social media, Google search or simply keying in your URL)

  • What does he see first?
  • What is his first impression?
  • Does he know what step to take next?

An effective landing page helps answer these questions. This web page is possibly the most important aspect of your conversions strategy, as it helps the visitor to take the next logical step in the ‘decision to purchase’. Some key factors to consider on your landing page are:

  • Have one single Call to Action that directs the visitor to the next step, rather than confuse him with various messages
  • Go for a full-screen landing page, as it helps hide all the other content of your website which can distract
  • Divide the landing page into 9 squares and place your key message and visual along the center squares (center and left)
  • Clean, crisp copy - Forget about clever wordplay and ensure the copy clearly states the key benefit you offer for the visitor if he chooses to take the next step. Also, the copy must clearly tell him what to do. Never underestimate the power of phrases such as “Buy Now”, “Click Here”. Although they seem simple, they have been tried and tested, and have been proven to work. The world’s best websites have mastered the art of clean copy to drive conversions.
  • Aesthetics - Use an ‘easy on the eye’ color scheme and branding on the landing page. Also, visuals of human faces have been known to help improve conversions.

2.       Don’t give too many options

This may sound counter-intuitive, but think of websites such as Google and Apple. They don’t serve up a plethora of options. They offer limited options on the website, so as not to confuse the visitor with ‘information overload’. When a visitor lands on your site, they think:

  • What do I do next?
  • Where should I click?
  • Should I read all this information or can I skim through?
  • Why are there so many options?
  • How can I finish what I came here for?

With all these questions running through the visitor’s mind, it is your job to make his life easier by gently taking him through with limited options. Unless you’re Amazon or eBay, it’s best to keep one objective for each web page and tailor your content accordingly.

3.       Speed is king

On the road, ‘speed thrills, but kills’. When it comes to your website, speed is of utmost importance. If your website takes ages to load, your audience is going to grow impatient, and within seconds, will switch to another website, often your competitor’s. Studies have shown that website loading speed is directly correlated to conversions. Use the following tips to ensure your website loads fast:

  • Refrain from using extremely heavy content
  • Optimize images based on size and format
  • The number of elements you have on your website result in an equal number of HTTP requests, thus affecting download speed. Lesser the better! This means, less plugins too!
  • Aim for a server response time of less than 200 milliseconds.

The above aspects are of a technical nature. If you are not a competent website developer, don’t cut corners. Hire the best help you can afford to get the job done right.

4.       Write good copy

You wouldn’t believe the number of businesses that overlook the importance of good copy! Don’t fall prey to the notion that users don’t read. Yes, they do skim through, but good, clear engaging copy makes them pay attention. And, take action! From the moment a user lands on your website, your copy must get to work to connect with him. Keep these tips in mind when crafting copy to improve conversions:

  • Use clear headlines that outline the key benefit of your product/service
  • The headline should also tell the user what the page is about
  • Use words such as “YOU” to speak to the user
  • Use a clear Call to Action to tell the user what to do next
  • Don’t write long paragraphs of copy. Keep it scannable by breaking your copy into paragraphs of 4-5 lines maximum. Each paragraph should have one underlying goal or message. It is also a good practice to have sub headings which will help users scan through your copy and gauge what you are trying to say.

Conclusion

We’ve only scratched the surface of web design to transform your website into a conversion driven success. The above 4 tips are a good place to start. Do drop us a line and let us know how they worked for you

Marketing Yourself with a Website

Why would you ever want to market yourself?

I can think of a few reasons. Maybe you want to get a job. Maybe you want to sign a client. Maybe you want to grow a following outside of your 9-5.

Whatever your reason, it’s important to know how to market yourself. Even if you don’t have a reason now, you never know when the time will come when you need (or want) a new job. And if you’ve been preparing all along, the task won’t seem as daunting.

Yesterday we discussed how to market yourself with LinkedIn. Today, let’s talk about how to market yourself with a website.

Having your own personal website puts you in control of your online persona. Instead of relying on a pre-built platform like Facebook or LinkedIn, a website puts all the power in your hands. You can customize the way it looks, the content you share, and how people can interact with you.

To be clear, a website does not replace a LinkedIn profile. Rather, you should have both. But you should use your personal website to help attract potential clients or employers.

On your website you can write articles, or link to others you’ve published outside your own website. You can link to your resume and LinkedIn profile. You can add a simple contact form and list other ways people might get in touch with you.

Your website should highlight your past achievements, showcase content or projects that you put together, and tell people why you’re an expert in any given area.

And when you do apply for a job, include your personal website on your resume and in the application process. Many employers will ask for your site URL directly. Having one helps you stand out from the crowd.

What to Put Above the Fold

The fold is the most important thing on your website that most often gets ignored.

What is the fold?

The fold is the term we give to that magical line that gets drawn across any web page based on the size of the monitor a visitor is using. It divides the top from the bottom. Everything above the fold is visible. Everything below it is not (until I scroll down).

So what should you care?

You need to care about the fold because you need to know how few people will actually see what’s going on below it. Web usability tests have proven time and time again that a very low percentage of your web visitors will scroll. If it’s not on the screen when they land on the page, it’s lost.

So what belongs above the fold?

  1. Identifying information, such as your company name and logo
  2. All navigation items
  3. Contact information
  4. Your sales message
  5. Your call to action
  6. Any pricing details of purchase buttons

So what belongs below the fold?

Nothing if you can help it. But I know that’s not always a reasonable solution, so my simple answer is anything that is secondary to the purpose of that page. Usually this includes a bottom navigation with terms of use and a privacy policy, links to partners and affiliates, or secondary sales messages that are not necessary to sell a new visitor.

If it’s important (and not everything is) put it below the fold and be sure to know that it won’t get as much traffic as you’d like.

The #1 Most Underrated Page on Any Website

Think a great home page is all you need to increase visibility and drive more sales? Maybe it’s the ideal product page that will boost your business to the next level?

Think again. The most underrated page on your, and any, website is…drum roll please…the 404 Error page.

Call me crazy, but everyone knows how frustrating it is to try to navigate someone’s website only to get trapped on the same old error page. “You appear to be looking for a page that does not exist (You idiot)”. It causes nightmares, it causes panic, and sometimes, it causes you to leave the site.

If your business relies on your website to drive traffic and sales, you cannot afford to lose potential business because of a 404 Error. Regardless of how careful you are, how simple your site is, and how smart your consumers may be, people will still land on this page. But you can change the nature of the experience simply by paying attention to how that page looks and behaves.

  1. Make it more personal. Instead of boring, technical speak, why not craft something with a little bit of compassion, or even humor? The visitor will feel a little less detached, and is more likely to stick it out on the site.
  2. Highlight contact information. Either I made a mistake, or the website made a mistake. And the best way to solve the problem is to get in touch with a human being on the other end who can walk me through this.
  3. Call out the most important pages on your site. Link to highly trafficked areas so that the potential customer does not have a hard time “starting over”.
  4. A more advanced option is to write a script (or potentially find one online) that looks at the incorrect URL and guesses where the visitor was trying to go. This provides them with a Google-like “Did you mean ____?” experience.

Don’t get me wrong, the 404 page is not the one most responsible for your lack of business. But it is the one page that most often goes unchanged or ignored for years at a time.