Did you know that one or two extra words in a search query can affect the type or types of SERP feature Google shows in its results?

The team at getstat.com recently posted an article titled How SERP Features Respond to Search Intent Modifiers which shows that swapping search intent modifiers can result in dramatic changes to Google SERPs features.

Before we take a closer look at STAT’s search intent data, let’s first define what we mean by search intent modifier.

What is Search Intent?

A basic search intent definition (also referred to search query intent) is determining what a searcher is most likely looking for when they type in a “keyword search” into Google. Often, they will use a search intent modifier to indicate their intent. For example, “buy” to indicate they want to make a purchase or “best” to indicate they want to compare products/service.

Some basic types of search engine user intent including:

  • Informational Intent Based Search – the searcher is looking to gain new knowledge on a topic.
    Search Modifier Examples: how to, what is, how big
  • Commercial Intent Based Search – the searcher is looking to gain more information before purchasing an item (ex. reviews, prices, warranties, etc.)
    Search Modifier Examples: best, compare, top
  • Transactional Intent Based Search – the searcher is ready to make a purchase.
    Search Modifier Examples: buy, coupon, price
  • Local Intent Based Search – the searcher is looking for something specific to their neighborhood or city.
    Search Modifier Examples: near me, close by, specific city names

STAT examined the 20 top SERP results (minus organics) for various search modifiers and compiled the numbers into extremely useful percentage points. For the purposes of this article, we have listed the top three types of SERP features based on their percentage in relation to the number of searches analyzed.

Search modifiers categorized by search intent were used to search on mobile devices in the US. The results provide some useful data for pursuing intent based search engine marketing and optimization. Let’s have a look.

1. SERP Features Triggered by Informational Search Intent Modifiers

No modifiers were used for informational searches, but the results are still interesting. News results came in a surprising 3rd, but given the keyword was found in the article title, this isn’t overwhelmingly unusual.

2. SERP Features Triggered by Commercial Search Intent Modifiers

The most common Commercial keyword modifiers for search intent purposes are found in the table below. I’ve selected the top 3 features for each modifier to highlight those with the most beneficial payoff.

Shopping Boxes led the entire Commercial intent category with the exception of the Compare modifier. What I found somewhat interesting is that Shopping snippets has substantial exposure for the modifiers “Deals” at 85.99% and “Used” at 74.92%.

STATS zeroed in on the potential of Featured Snippets (lists) for keyword modifiers “Best” and “Top”. These percentages are comparatively low and either Google is reluctant to present more of them in SERPs or there simply aren’t enough suitable Featured Snippets (lists) to present. This could be a golden opportunity for strategists focussing on such snippets.

3. SERP Features Triggered by Transactional Search Intent Modifiers

The most common Transactional modifiers for search intent purposes can be found in the table below. As with the Commercial modifiers, I’ve selected the top 3 SERP features found in the results using the modifier to highlight those with the best potential yield.

As STAT indicates, people want to quickly determine how much an item is going to cost – and likely search for the most affordable option. Google seems to feel that Featured Snippets (paragraphs) are an effective way to present this information for the Cost and Price modifiers.

What surprised me is that images were presented to such a large degree where the Price modifier was concerned. One would think at this stage of intent that numbers would supersede images.

4. SERP Features Triggered by Local Search Intent Modifiers

Because STAT only used Chicago and Dallas as local modifiers, there were few results. We see that Shopping, Places, and Images are the most popular type of SERP Feature.

We recommend that you do various searches with local intent for your own city. Search for local businesses, upcoming events, organizations, and so on in your area and see what type of results are shown.

Key Takeaways: Search Intent Optimization –  Planning Modifiers for Your SEO

  1. Examine the results of STAT’s research by focussing on Google’s propensity to post some SERP features above others for specific modifiers that were used. For example:
  • What modifiers do you think searchers could use when looking for your business and what SERP features are shown for those?
  • What modifiers show up in your Google Search Console Search Analytics reports and what SERP features are shown for those?
  1. You likely want to target Commercial, Transactional, and Local modifiers in your SEO Strategy. Be sure that you understand How Featured Snippets in Search Can Boost Your Website Traffic and How to Avoid Eliminated Featured Snippets.
  2. If images and videos are popular for search modifiers relevant to your business, be sure to have high quality and unique images loaded and optimized on your website. The same goes for uploading videos to YouTube and embedding on your website.

For more information about Advanced SEO Techniques such as search intent marketing and optimization please contact 1st on the List today by calling 1-888-262-6687 or email us at contact@1stonthelist.ca.

A recent study by KoMarketing, Huff Industrial Marketing and BuyerZone examined the most important content for B2B buyers and what factors on a website can impact their buying decision, for better or worse.

Here are the key takeaways. Does your B2B website content strategy include these popular elements?

1. Thorough contact information is the most important piece of content on your website.

Contact info is cited as the most important asset on a vendor website. It is a critical element used by your buyers to establish credibility. While this is one of the easiest elements to add a website it is often missing. Not only does missing contact information cause buyers to question your credibility but it also prevents them from being able to move forward with requesting a quote.

Furthermore, 44% of respondents say that absence of contact information is annoying and can cause them to leave the website.

2. Product pricing plays a big role on your website.

This is another top must have on an a B2B website. Unfortunately over half of respondents reported that pricing information is often lacking on websites.

3. Key information buyers want to find on your homepage.

Your website’s homepage is valuable real estate and you must make use of every inch to clearly convey your message and brand while creating a need and desire for your service. here are the most common elements buyers look for on your homepage:

  • Products and services (86%)
  • Contact information (64%)
  • About/ Company Information (52%)
  • Testimonials (27%)
  • Marketing Collateral (23%)
  • Social Media Icons (12%)
  • Blog (8%)
  • Pricing (2%)

3. Other B2B website content buyers will give you their contact info for.

What type of content is so lucrative that buyers will give you their contact information in exchange for?

  • Trial Offers (62%)
  • Product Demos (48%)
  • Product Evaluations (44%)
  • Research (41%)
  • Brochures, datasheets (40%)

4. B2B website content that may not need to be locked behind a contact form.

Interestingly, fewer B2B buyers will give you their information to receive a case study (24%), white paper (28%) or newsletter (23%). While these are still important for establishing your credibility as a vendor perhaps buyers feel they should be able to view this information anonymously, without having to complete a form and tell you their identity. When considering what content to put behind a sign up form think about where in the purchase funnel the buyer likely is. Reading a white paper about how your service works is likely to happen much earlier than requesting a trial. They may read white papers from five to eight other vendors but only request a trial from one or two.

5. Contact forms can be a big stumbling block for RFQ’s.

Don’t ask too many questions – When your content has done its job and the buyer is ready to complete a “Request for Quote” (RFQ) you run the risk of asking too many questions. Nearly 70% of respondents in this study say that excessive form field requirements can keep them from completing the form. Formstack recently determined that lead generation forms average around 11 fields.

Only ask for their phone number and address when necessary – Nearly 60% say they don’t like to share their phone number and 53% their address information. Aren’t we all worried about being solicited after giving out this information? The email address is still a low threat field and only 16% say they prefer not to provide this.

Don’t get too personal – You must also be cautious about asking for too much personal information or requiring the buyer to subscribe to your email newsletter, as these can be two other big deterrents.

6. Other factors that affect a buyers’ experience on your website.

The study also found some other key components that affect the experience and ultimately the outcome of a buyer’s experience on your website:

  • Visitors get most annoyed with a lack of message (46%) and animated ads (42%), which can cause them to leave.
  • B2B Buyers have less and less of a tolerance for slow loading websites. 20% define slow as 5 seconds, 42% as 10 seconds and 34% as 15 seconds. This tolerance is much higher than Google’s suggested 2 second rule of thumb.
  • B2B buyers are searching on their mobile device and tablet – 4/10 mobile device owners will search for a B2B product on their phone.
  • B2B buyers are still mostly neutral towards mobile-friendly websites. Approximately one third are neutral and one third consider it important but not a deal breaker.


This 2015 B2B Web Usability Report draws three excellent conclusions or takeways to developing an effective B2B website content strategy:

  1. Keep buyers on the website at the beginning of the discovery phase.
  2. Educate buyers as they leave a website and return to it multiple times through their research phase.
  3. Give buyers the confidence to establish contact or begin a trial offer with a prospective vendor.

These study results are just the start of Conversion Optimization and getting the most out of your website. For more information about how we can help you get more leads out of your B2B website please call us at 1-888-262-6687 or fill out our quick contact form.

This article has been adapted from MarketingCharts.com.


Recently Econsultancy and Adobe asked over 6,000 marketing, digital and e-commerce professionals around the world the question,

“What is the marketers’ single most exciting opportunity for 2015?”

Over 1 in 5 (22%) responded “Customer Experience”.

What’s so great about customer experience? Many believe that it defines your brand.

What is Customer Experience?

Customer experience is all about the interactions a person has with your brand. There are various ways to measure customer experience including their overall experience with your brand, likelihood to continue to use your products or services or likelihood to recommend you to others.

Online marketing and web design can get caught up in user experience which is just one component of customer experience. We often focus on simple question such as How do people interact with the website and What experience do they receive from that interaction? 

The deeper questions to ask are ones such as how does a user’s experience on your website affect their overall impression of your brand and How does it affect their opinion when they visit one of your offices or receive their product order in the mail?

SEO and “Customer Experience Optimization”

Over the last couple years a large component of SEO has come to focus on customer experience and knowing how to optimize not only your website but to optimize all the online touch points a customer may have with your brand. Easy SEO tactics such as keyword stuffing, buying backlinks or rewriting articles that used to work five years ago are no longer on the table. Successful SEO is all about promoting your brand and building a positive customer experience, through aspects such as content quality and sociability. A successful SEO Strategy focuses on optimizing for the user first while staying within Google’s quality guidelines.

How to Improve Online Customer Experience

Here are some quick ways you can work on improving customer experience through your website:

  • Make your brand interesting and write with personality.
  • Understand the needs of your visitors and why they are on your website. How can you help solve their problem and meet their needs?
  • Make sure your business’ contact information is clearly posted on the site. It is a best practice to have your phone number in the top header and full address in the footer so that it is accessible no matter what page a visitor is on.
  • If you run an e-Commerce website make sure your shopping cart and checkout runs seamlessly.
  • Write interesting email auto-responders, such as when someone completes a contact form on your website or requests a quote. Tell the person when they should expect a response and make sure they understand the next steps in the process.
  • Write informative FAQ pages to give customers immediate answers to their questions.
  • Never underestimate the importance of page speed – your customers want to access your products, services and contact information quickly. Pages or images that take a long time to load slow your visitors down and take up more of their time than necessary.
  • Make your website awesome for all devices. Make sure your website sizes properly on small mobile devices and has links that are easy to click with a finger. Don’t let a non mobile-friendly website upset your visitor before they’ve had a chance to experience all the great things about your brand.
  • Keep contact forms short and simple. Only ask for the information you need and no more. This makes it easy and quick for your customers to fill out.
  • Double check that your business information (including phone number, address and hours) are correctly posted across the Internet including Google Plus. Your Google Plus page, whether you’ve claimed and edited it or not, often shows up when someone searches for your brand. A potential customer who sees wrong hours listed in Google and shows up to your store after you’ve closed for the night could be very upset and may never come back.
  • Take the time to read the online reviews about your business. Learn from any negative truth in the reviews (Is your staff really rude? Do you have unreasonably long wait times?) At the same time, take a minute or two to personally respond to customers who had less than great experiences and offer to make it right.

Ultimately, customer experience is about building a bond with people who visit your website. The customer experience is everything and can determine your future success.
What kind of bond are you forming with your visitors?

It is one of the most basic metrics used to measure user experience on a website and we’ve been using it for years. Do you know everything you need to about your bounce rate?

In today’s post we’ve rounded up everything you need to know about bounce rates so that you can make sure your website is providing the best user experience possible!

What is Bounce Rate?

An easy to understand bounce rate definition is:

Someone who comes to your website, looks at one page, and leaves the website for whatever reason.

Bounce Rate = Total number of visitors viewing one page only / Total visitors to the page

So What Does Bounce Rate Mean to You?

The bounce rate of each page can tell you the interest people have on your website based on first impressions. If the majority of visitors are leaving without looking at another page you may not be doing a good job of meeting their expectations or catching their interest. You want visitors to come to your website, peruse pages, become familiar with your brand and offerings, build up trust and eventually make a move (ie. conversion) whether it is a sale or give you their lead information.

Does Bounce Rate Affect Rankings?

Google and other Search Engines use bounce rate as a factor when determining how to rank your website. A high bounce rate means people are going to the site, not liking what they see and leave. From the Search Engine’s perspective, these type of pages or websites do not provide a good user experience and in fact agitate the searcher. Essentially a high bounce rate signals your pages aren’t relevant or good enough for visitors and the Search Engines will start showing them less and less in results.

Understanding Bounce Rate vs. Exit Rate

Exit rate measures the percentage of people who leave after viewing the page. The visitor could have viewed three or four pages, found the information they needed and then exited on your contact page. Bounce rate on the other hand is a person who leaves your website on the first page.

How Do Visitors “Bounce”?

There are several ways visitors can bounce or leave your website:

  • Hit the back button
  • Type a different URL into their browser
  • Close the browser
  • Close the tab in the browser
  • Click a link on your website that goes to another website.

What’s a Good Bounce Rate?

There is no single magic number for an acceptable bounce rate. A good bounce rate is specific to your website and a website can always be tweaked to improve its own bounce rate. When looking at your bounce rate, ask yourself:

  • Is it consistent?
  • Has it changed over the last several months?
  • Are there spikes anywhere? Can you attribute these spikes to any major changes on your site?
  • What specific pages have high bounce rates? Should the person be leaving here?

Bounce Rate by Industries

KissMetrics recently published an infographic on Bounce Rate and published the following bounce rates:

Service Websites:            10-30% bounce

Retail Sites:                         20-40% bounce

Content Websites:          40-60% bounce

Lead Generation:             30-50% bounce

Overall Average Bounce Rate:    40.5%

Normal Bounce Rates Differ for Different Functions

Depending on the type of page and its purpose you can expect to have different “normal” bounce rates. For example, pages with news, entertainment, sports and other information should have lower bounce rates because people are in the exploration mode. Pages with specific functions such as weather, contact forms, hours of operation should have higher bounce rates because the visitor is coming to find a single answer.

What Else Affects Bounce Rate?

There are several aspects that can either drive visitors away or help keep them on page. Consider the following factors that can affect bounce rate:

  • Pop-up ads
  • Music
  • Streaming video
  • Type of audience
  • Landing page design
  • Emails and newsletters
  • Load time
  • Links to external sites (more visitors click away)
  • Purpose of the landing

20 Tips on How to Reduce Bounce Rate

Whether your bounce rate  is 70% or 20% you can always make tweaks to lower bounce rate, including:

  • Create clear navigation
  • Have a clear purpose to each page
  • Keep content on topic
  • Make sure you meet visitor expectations
  • Check website speed here (if your site takes too long to load visitors won’t wait)
  • Make sure website has cross-browser compatibility
  • Make content scannable with titles and some images
  • Make sure site is mobile responsive so it looks good regardless of what type of device a visitor is using
  • Look in Analytics and Webmaster Tools to see what types of phrases are bringing traffic to your website – are you attracting the wrong type of traffic?
  • Have a clear Call-To-Action on each page
  • Cut out too many distractions
  • Offer related content based on the page
  • Add an internal search bar to make it easier to find
  • Make sure you have a good 404 page
  • Consider splitting long pages into two shorter pages
  • Consider getting rid of pop-up ads, customer help widgets, music
  • Make external links open in a new tab
  • Improve your brand’s story
  • Keep content up to date and current.
  • Make sure fonts and colors are readable.

Ultimately you need to meet or exceed your visitor’s expectations when it comes to each and every page of your website.

Start Improving Bounce Rate Today

You can start looking at bounce rate by exploring the Landing Page report from Google Analytics. Look at pages that have the highest bounce rates and higher levels of traffic.

Do you have a high bounce rate and have tried everything to lower it? Perhaps it’s time to speak with an expert. Call us at 1-888-262-6687. Our conversion optimization services can be a great place to start.

Limelight Networks recently published a study called “The State of User Experience” which explored attitudes towards website performance. You may find the key findings interesting.

Visitors aren’t willing to wait for websites to load.

When asked how long are you willing to wait for a website to load before you get frustrated and leave the site, the medium time falls around 3 seconds according to this study.

  • Less than 1 second 1.67%
  • 1-3 seconds 18.92%
  • 3-5 seconds 38.62%
  • 5+ seconds 40.79%

Visitors will buy from a competitor if the page takes too long to load.

Nearly 40% of visitors said they will leave your website and go to your competitor’s website to complete their purchase if your site is too slow.

Tablets, iPhones and Android Phones are among most popular mobile devices.

Combined these three type of devices make up 83% of mobile use. Surprisingly 14% of people say they don’t use a mobile device to access the Internet.

Performance expectations for mobile are on the rise.

Yes, 44% of respondents say they are willing to wait longer for a page to load on a mobile device. However, another 41% say they expect mobile devices to load equally fast.

Visitors are impartial to your website making recommendations based on previous visits.

Nearly 40% of visitors say, “No, I don’t want a website to remember that I’ve come before and make recommendations based on my previous visits.” Another 25% are impartial saying they don’t know or don’t care.

Limelight’s Key Takeaways

  1. Performance is key to a great web experience.
  2. Consumer web use is increasingly mobile.
  3. The value of web experience personalization remains to be seen.

How fast does your website load? How is your mobile experience? You can check both of these factors using our SEO Tools or give us a call at 1-888-262-6687 for a personalized consultation of what your website needs to provide the best visitor experience possible.

2 seconds.

One-miss-is-sip-pi, two-miss-is-sip-pi.

That is the tolerable wait time for a website to load.

A recent study by SearchMetrics.com analyzed websites ranking on the first three pages of results and found that on average, the Top 5 websites ranked loaded in less than 1.2 seconds and the Top 30 websites loaded in less than 1.3 seconds…. well below the 2 second rule of thumb.

This is why we put a lot of effort into helping our clients make their websites faster – there is a direct correlation between fast websites and rankings, traffic, conversions, purchases and profit.

In our newest Slideshare Presentation we share all the details and the studies that prove these claims. Check it out! And when you are finished, be sure to check your website speed in the link provided at the end of the presentation and then give us a call at 1-888-262-6687 or email us to get started on website speed optimization.

Website speed is all the rage today.

Did you know that in 2014 Site Speed was voted one of the top search ranking factors?

Site speed contributes to a better user experience overall and hundreds of businesses are finding that as they make their website faster they get better rankings, more traffic, higher conversion rates and ultimately more sales.

Here are 6 of the best free website speed test tools you can use to evaluate your website speed.

As you use these tools remember that the rule of thumb is a page should load in less than 2 seconds. Websites that rank in Top 30 positions load in less than 1.3 second mark (SearchMetrics.com).


Use this tool to run a full page test to find the load time of each page. This website speed test helps you analyze your page and find where slow bottlenecks occur. The tool also gives you the page load time, page size an overall grade out of 100 plus how fast your webpage is in comparison to all tested websites.



A favorite of our website auditors this free tool to test site speed gives you a score for both the first view and for the repeat view. It tells you how long it takes for the first byte to load, how long it takes to start rendering and the time, number of requests and bytes required for the page to fully load. The tool also gives you a letter grade for a number of speed factors including progressive JPEGs, cache static content, keep-alive content and compress transfer.


Pagespeed Insights by Google

Google’s tool to hep you make your web pages fast on all devices gives you a page speed score for both desktop and mobile platforms plus a number of recommendations to increase your page speed.


Google Analytics

If you have Google Analytics set up to track your website traffic you can also see website speed for pages at specific points in time. Select Behavior from the left navigation and choose Site Speed Overview.


Google Webmaster Tools

If you have Webmaster Tools set up for your website you can also see your average website speed over the last three months. Look for the average speed and any major spikes in load time, which can suggest server issues. Select Crawl from the left navigation and choose Crawl Stats.



This add-on available for most browsers grades your web page and offers suggestions to improve the page performance. It’s a great way to quickly test speed on any webpage you may visit and is great for competitor analysis too!

Is it time to make your website faster? Our Website Auditors are skilled at finding what is slowing your website down and providing prioritized lists of how to gradually improve your website speed. After all, Amazon found that a one second slow down could cost them $1.6 billion in sales each year.

What is your slow website costing you?

Contact us today for more information about website speed and what we can do for you or visit our Site Speed Optimization page for more details.

When was the last time you stopped to really look at how visitors behave on your website, how they feel about your website and ultimately the attitudes they form about your company based on your website?

Essentially, this is what we call “User Experience” or “UX”.

Today top brands strive to create a website with the ultimate user experience. The whole concept of “user experience design” is much talked about. There are seemingly endless user experience factors that interact together in the most complicated ways and countless hours have been spent on user experience research.

So how do you maintain a healthy balance of optimizing your website and catering to your visitors, and what do these two have to do with each other?

A few weeks ago we started exploring this topic in an article titled “Why SEO and User Experience are Two Pease in a Pod”. Today we will continue along this train of thought and focus in on SEO content and discuss:

  • What users demand of your content
  • How Search Engines incorporate User Experience into Search Results
  • How you can create a winning Content Strategy that addresses both UX and SEO at the same time.
  • What you can expect to get out of  UX and SEO.

Great Content Fuels User Experience and Your Visitors Demand It!

We will be the first to admit there is an ongoing struggle between UX Designers and SEO Content Specialists. UX demands more white space and fewer words to get the message across. SEO Content writers know that the Search Engines are looking at all of the content on a website and how it works together to build credibility.

Images that are favored by UX Designers can bring out positive emotional responses from the visitor but are seen as blank canvases and unreadable by Search Engines.

But never fret! A great balance between design and content can be achieved without one or the other suffering.  Content and design can work together to meet your visitors’ needs and expectations and ultimately sell your brand. With thousands of alternative websites at their fingertips your visitor will not tolerate incompetence on your site. Here are some examples:

  • If the site was built to accommodate desktop display and the user is using their mobile device, the user leaves (read more about whether your mobile experience is annoying customers).
  • If the content is poorly written, long winded or has nothing to do with their search, the user leaves.
  • If videos crash or take too long to load, the user leaves.

Content Ideas Your Visitors Will Love

Have you thought about how some of the following Content could ultimately improve your user experience and turn browsers at different stages of the buying funnel into paying customers, all while giving the Search Engines the type of content they are looking for?

  • Uneducated visitors checking out their options can benefit from category and subcategory pages, buying guides, how to pages, product images and more.
  • Educated visitors looking for more information can benefit from product comparisons, reviews, blog posts, forums and more.
  • Visitors who know exactly what they want can benefit from detailed product pages.
  • Visitors who need the extra final push towards making a decision can benefit from coupon and sales pages, company reviews and about pages.

Do you now see how you can develop content to meet the needs and expectations of your visitors, regardless of their buying stage, in order to improve their User Experience?

How User Experience Affects Rankings

One of Google’s biggest priorities is to provide the best results to any given search. Google doesn’t want to show websites that provide a bad user experience as they hurt the usefulness of their Search Engine.

There are several factors that Google can or potentially can use to gauge user experience, including:

  • Page load time
  • Bounce rate
  • Exit rate
  • Time on site

As Google is better able to evaluate the quality of content on your website and what it is actually saying the Search Engine has little tolerance towards content that is poorly written, keyword stacked, scraped or automatically generated (see our article on the latest Panda 4.0 update).

Google Webmaster Guidelines gives four basic principles when it comes to creating a good user experience and superior content, which will ultimately help your rankings:

1. Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.

2. Don’t deceive your users.

3. Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”

4. Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.

Enter a Winning SEO Content Strategy and User Experience

The term “content strategy” is a fairly new discipline to online marketing as the number of mediums and places to be heard have increased. Start with your website and blog, add in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Slideshare along with new up and coming platforms and most businesses need a solid game plan for what information to share.

Rather than ad hoc content development as you go, you need to a game plan that will not only make your life easier but also help improve User Experience. A basic framework for developing a UX focused content strategy is to:

  • Create framework for content to be created
  • Define target audience
  • Focus on message priorities and order
  • Define Topics
  • Set content type based on target audience interest
  • Set content length based on target audience viewing characteristics and site design

With a clear strategy every marketing endeavor becomes focused on the end result. This helps create a platform that gives the user a reason to trust you. Your content speaks to user needs and expectations, yet conforms to the overall development of the ultimate user experience. Each building block of your web presence is defined and implemented for optimum impact.

The Results of Merging User Experience and SEO

When you start optimizing your website and adding content that is focused on the User Experience you create an environment with more:

  • Clarity and readability – Defining your content and rules of structure allows the website to be designed with a sleek and seamless user interface that flows from page to page.
  • Better information structure – With a defined content strategy you can easily move into the information architecture across platforms with the framework created for your content focus.
  • Focus on the user – By putting the visitor first with User Experience, content research and writing can be focused on the audience, not so much on the topic. Rather than writing encyclopedia articles, you will be writing to engage your audience. 
  • Optimized Conversion – An enjoyable user experience is key to conversion. Often content strategy helps to define the optimal voice, tone or message that stimulates sales conversion.

Is it time to start thinking about your visitors?

If this article has opened your eyes to the many benefits you stand to gain by focusing on your visitors and not so much on your own brand or content, give us a call!

We can help evaluate your website architecture, existing content and the level of user experience it provides. We’ll compile a list of prioritized recommendations to get you started on developing a UX and SEO website that is bound to bring in more customers at the end of the day.

Send us a quick email to contact@1stonthelist.com or call 1-888-262-6687 to speak with one of our content consultants!

One of the major themes in the last couple years in the SEO industry that is now critical to the success of every website is User Experience.

Google says their goal is to provide users with the most relevant results and a great user experience (source).Think about it. Google wants to be the best Search Engine. To be the best they need to give the best results. And who determines the best results? Users.

In the last couple years Google has begun integrating several User Experience factors into their algorithm. What grade would your website get for User Experience and more importantly, is User Experience helping or hindering your rankings?

What is User Experience?

In general terms, User Experience (also referred to as UX) is a person’s behavior, attitude and emotions towards a particular product, system or service. In the case of your website it is how a person interacts with your website.

Essentially User Experience is about ensuring your visitors find value in what your website provides. According to Peter Morville’s User Experience Honeycomb model  a person can derive value in several ways. When applied to Google’s user experience factors in their algorithm, Morville’s model looks like this:

  • Findable – Can they find you in the Search Engines?
  • Useful – Do they find what they look for?
  • Desirable – Is it what they want?
  • Credible – Do they trust the information on your website?
  • Accessible – Do the pages load fast enough? Can they click through pages to find the information they need?
  • Usable – Do all the features including contact forms and links work?

What’s the connection between your website’s User Experience and SEO?

The example of a dating website comes to mind. A website like eHarmony or Match.com does a good job in getting you “found” by eligible individuals who meet your criteria. Once the site connects you with these people it is your job to court the individual, offer experiences and provide meaningful exchanges.

In the same way SEO helps you connect with qualified potential customers who are seeking what you offer. Once they arrive on your site (the “first date”) you need to offer something the visitor can’t find elsewhere. You need to impress. You need to keep them coming back for more dates.

Here is a helpful SEO and User Experience Chart to help you further understand the interaction:

SEO Role

  1. Improve quality of traffic.
  2. Target keywords searched by specific personas.
  3. Turn searchers into visitors.
  4. Connect searchers with what they are looking for.

User Experience Role

  1. Turn traffic into conversions ($).
  2. Design website to appeal to each persona.
  3. Engage visitors enough so they return.
  4. Help searchers solve the problem behind their search.

Best Website User Experience Tips

Ready to improve user experience on your website and promote your brand in the best light? Start with some of these easy tips …

  1. Make sure your navigation is easy to use.
  2. Make sure your website displays properly and is functional on all devices – including mobile devices and tablets.
  3. Make sure the pages on your website load fast (Google recommends less than 2 seconds).
  4. Create high quality content your visitor will want to read, and can’t find elsewhere.
  5. Organize the information on your site so it is structured and well presented.
  6. Add trust factors such as testimonials, awards and memberships.
  7. Keep your products and services information up to date.

Start Improving Website Experience Today!

Although high level tracking and analytics can greatly improve the usability of your website there are other affordable options to help you get started in assessing your website’s usability:

  • Look at industry leader websites. These companies have likely spent thousands if not hundreds of thousands on perfecting their website. What themes do you see? What can you apply to your website?
  • Ask friends, family members and even customers for their input on your website. Ask them to perform simple tasks on your website or browse through pages for 5-10 minutes. They will likely have a list of feedback for you.
  • Read web design and marketing blogs. There is a lot of research out there that proves certain design concepts, layouts and website structure. Trust the numbers!

If you are still lost, give us a call at 1-888-262-6687. We can provide an SEO and User Experience Website Evaluation to help improve your website in respect to both SEO and User Experience! We also offer A/B split testing to improve conversion rates and user experience on your website.

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Google estimates that 50% of today’s online marketplace is driven by image content. More than ever people are relying on image search results to answer their questions or to search for new ideas.

Although image optimization for SEO can seem tedious the costs of not optimizing your images is substantial. You risk getting lost in cyberspace without proper image file naming, sizing and labeling.

To your visitors your images are worth a thousand words but to the search engines they are worth nothing without the words that describe them. Unfortunately those who make the mistake of replacing words with images on their website are being lost in cyberspace.

Don’t get left behind in Google Image ranks and miss out on significant levels of traffic. Make a commitment to stop making these common SEO image optimization mistakes today!

Mistake #1: Neglecting to Properly Name Images for SEO

You may be asking, “Do image file names affect SEO?”

The answer is a resounding YES. When you upload your digital pictures from your phone or camera or even purchase stock photos the files are typically named with numbers such as DSC0546.jpg. Although it seems like a minor detail and can take time, it is important to change the number into a file name that actually tells what the picture is.

Think about it – when a Googlebot crawls your website and finds an image file named “DSC0546” it could be a picture of a pair of red gumboots or a picture of a girl with braces. Renaming the image will help give clues about the image to the Search Engines so they can determine whether you are a shoe retailer or an orthodontist.

Best Image Naming Conventions for SEO

If you want your picture or image files to make a difference in your ranking factors, pay attention to the details of file naming:

  1. Be Descriptive. Name the file with a full description of the picture. When you name the file, give it the same value as the title of an article or blog post. The more sophisticated the search engine algorithms get, the more relevant a file name will become as a search engine factor.
  2. User hyphens to separate words. Avoid underscores or plus signs (_, +) to separate words. Google sees dashes as word separators and underscores as joiners. For example Google reads “mobile_phone” as mobilephone and “mobile-phone” as mobile phone.
  3. Don’t spam your file name. While Google does not have a preferred length for image file name you should never put excessive keywords into the file name. Make sure the filename accurately describes the picture.

Mistake #2: Bigger is not better!
Image File Size and Type for SEO Matters

Image files are heavy. They consume a huge number of kilobytes on webpages. While printed media needs images of the highest quality, a site with images saved in high resolution will be weighed down by these large files and take too long to load. If your site loads slowly (more than 2 seconds) people won’t wait around to see what you have to show them. Your website may look fantastic but it doesn’t matter if people don’t stick around to see the website once it loads.

Before you save your file for upload, make sure you have cropped and edited the image to finished size and attributes. From there you can compress the image while maintaining a good enough quality for the web.

While we are talking about re-sizing it is an important time to talk about how to save your image files to the best file format. There are 3 basic file formats for images on the internet: PNG JPG, and GIF.

  1. Portable Network Graphics (PNG). PNG’s are favored by site developers because they have great compression while maintaining good image quality and transparency effects. The one drawback of a PNG-24 is that only modern browser support the format.
  2. Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPG or JPEG). JPG’s are most commonly used format for handling photographs. The various levels of compression is selective in the data it discards. Unfortunately, it is not useful for transparencies.
  3. Graphics Interchange Format (GIF).  GIF’s are seen as the ideal format for illustrations and logos. They have great compression levels and preserves the image transparencies. The drawback of GIF’s is that they have a maximum display of only 256 colours and are not a viable option for photographs.

No matter what you choose as your image file format, check that you do not exceed a maximum of 50 kb per file. When you add up the number picture files you have uploaded, you find this is critical in the load health of your site. Plus large images waste your bandwidth and can cost you money.

Remember when saving a picture or image for the internet, use the original image, otherwise you will be compressing a previously compressed image. Compression reduces image quality – by using previously processed pictures you create a situation of reduced visual quality.

Mistake #3: Not Using Image ALT Tags

The Alt Tag is a vital part of the image HTML tag. It displays when the image doesn’t load or when your visitor has images disabled, plus is useful for visually impaired software. Most important to SEO the ALT tag is used by Googlebots to find out what your image is about.

And once Google or any other search engine can decipher what your image is and what it is about, it can establish credibility in ranking to your image and your site. Your picture provides actual keyword relevance on the search engine results pages (SERP). Checking for these Image ALT Tags on your website is just one aspect of our Site Audit packages.

Image ALT Tag Best Practices

  1. Text should be 150 characters or less
  2. Keywords should be placed near the beginning
  3. Description should be relevant to the image and to the content on the page

Search Engine robots can’t crawl images that they cannot find in your webpage source code. A good practice is to list these in an image sitemap using Google Webmaster Tools. Learn more about Google’s Image Publishing Guidelines and suggestions for using their image sitemap.

Mistake #4: Completely Ruling Out the Description

The description is not in the forefront and can often be forgotten or brushed off. However it may make a difference when it comes down to outranking a competitor, if all else is equal. Not to be confused with the ALT tag, the description is used on the Permalink pages of the Media Library. If you uploaded the image for use in a Gallery the description will also appear on the Attachment page.

Do You Still Think it’s “Just a Picture”?

When you look at that one picture you would never believe there is so much that goes on behind the scenes to make it rank and attract traffic for your website.

We highly recommend that if you follow these image optimization best practices. If you feel your time is better spent on running your business consider hiring a professional that can do it for you. The most successful business owners and managers learn to delegate and build a strong team around them.

Why not consider adding 1st on the List to your team and let us help with optimizing the images on your website? Contact us at 888-262-6687 to discuss image optimization on your website or click below to sign up to get monthly updates on current SEO topics.

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