Today, 61% of global Internet users research products online and 44% of them begin by using a search engine. Your website, regardless of the nature of your business, is where your revenue comes from. This means you should aim to deliver the best available website in your niche. You want users to come to your website and eventually convert by buying or signing up for your product or service.
Web design has significantly evolved in the past few years and has become significantly more complex — it’s no longer just about good looks, you need to incorporate various other elements to ensure your ultimate online success.
Search Engine Optimization & User Experience must work together in order for a site to be successful — poor UX will undoubtedly lead to poor SEO. These two disciplines must happily coexist to ensure the successful monetization of your online efforts.
In this article we will review the steps of designing and optimizing your business website for SEO and UX. If you are re-designing your existing website or creating a new one, pay close attention to these tips and tricks — they will save you a lot of time and money.
The 4 Pillars of Successful Websites
Before you start, make sure you have a clear understanding of what your website should be – as we pointed out, it’s not just about looking good or ranking well.
Design isn’t just about aesthetics – with UX design you should be thinking about how to make the exploration of your site better.
Ease in navigation and accessibility of your site are key. Taking this into consideration when designing a site, you’re likely to attract more users.
A flawless information architecture is crucial for the success of any website. Users need to easily understand how to find what they are looking for. Building a website around information architecture and user paths, means you are designing it for the ultimate user experience.
By following the 5 second rule (your visitors should be able to understand what you do within 5 seconds of landing on your website), you ensure that your website is well-optimized for conversions.
By developing buyer personas and using Call-to-Action buttons, you will be able to communicate a very clear message to your visitors and guide them to their next. Don’t shy away from encouraging your visitors to buy, fill a form or sign up for something.
#4: Good Search Rankings
If a great website cannot be found, it is completely useless. SEO is not just about optimizing your website for search engines, it’s about optimizing it for your customers. High-quality content, keyword optimization and quality links to your website will help you rank better and be found by your target audience.
Step-by-Step Guide To Optimizing for UX and SEO
Your users are the source of your revenue and by improving their experience, you are enhancing your chances of increasing profits. Before you dive into your next re-design or development of a brand new website, take a look at the following steps of website optimization:
1. Site Speed
According to surveys conducted by Akamai and Gomez.com, nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less. They tend to abandon a site that doesn’t load within 3 seconds. Also, 79% of web shoppers who have trouble with web site performance say they won’t return to the site to buy again and around 44% of them would tell a friend if they had a poor experience shopping online.
Site speed can severely impact your website performance and revenue – make sure to test your site speed and optimize your website for quick loading. Here are some tips on how to ensure your site speed:
- Install PageSpeed on Apache or Nginx – a module that automatically applies web performance best practices
2. Optimize Your Website Accessibility
Simplicity is key when it comes to website performance. Don’t overwhelm your visitors by offering too many options.
The primary purpose of your website should be easily accessible and prominent. To prioritize your functions’ accessibility you can implement Fitts’s Law, which states:
“The time required to rapidly move to a target area is a function of the distance to the target and the size of the target.” – Paul Fitts
The most important functionality should use a combination of size and placement to help users access it quickly and easily.
Simplify your site and make it easy for users to access the most prominent features you offer. How to do this:
- What is the most important action you want your users to take? Make sure this is prominently visible.
- The path from your homepage to any other landing page should be clear to your users. Don’t discard the navigation menu and don’t change the overall look and feel of the website, when redirecting to a landing page.
- How many clicks does it take for your users to get to where you need them to go? Make sure to reduce the number of clicks as much as possible.
3. Answer Questions Before They’re Asked
“Have things happen when users expect them — either because of their existing expectations or because you’ve clearly communicated what to expect.” – Nielsen Norman Group
Ask yourself: Why are users on your website and what type of information are they looking for? Are you making that information visible and easily accessible to them?
- Call-to-Action buttons should be easily associated with the related function
- Focus on menu functionality & menu names
- Create focused product/services descriptions
- Have clear navigation labels
- Create and optimize your site content for both users and search engines – answer all questions, before they are even asked.
4. Match Conversion Paths with Your Personas’ Behavior
When you are developing your ideal Buyer Personas, focus on data over fiction. Unless it’s crucially important to your business, don’t base your Buyer Personas on demographics, personality, or gender. Collect data about your visitors’ website behavior and implement your conversion paths based on the collected information.
5. Internal Link Structure
Internal links are most useful for establishing site architecture. On an individual page, search engines need to see content in order to list pages in their massive keyword–based indices. They also need to have access to a crawlable link structure — a structure that lets spiders browse the pathways of a website—in order to find all of the pages on a website.
- Implement a pyramid-like link structure (minimize the amount of links possible between the homepage and any given page)
- For e-commerce websites use a category- and subcategory-based approach
6. Incorporate Your Sales Process Within the Website
Every business has a different approach when it comes to sales. E-commerce, B2C, B2B — their sales funnels are all different, therefore there’s no universal UX and SEO formula. In order to make sure your website generates maximum revenue, you should incorporate your sales process into the website.
- Map out your entire sales process from start to finish (incl. touch-points between the customer and the website or marketing materials)
- Identify where potential problems can occur and ensure they never happen
- In case of a drop in conversions — identify where the most common drop-off points are and analyze further.
Considering the amount of work and resources that the design and maintenance of a website requires, make sure your website is capitalizing on all that work. Focus on conversion optimization through the perspective of SEO and UX, because people will be looking for you via search engines and when they find your website, it is entirely up to you to convert them from visitors to customers.
The above guidelines will help you make the first step in the process of developing your business website or redesigning an existing one. Considering Google’s focus on quality websites, ensure the coexistence of both SEO and UX in order to achieve maximum return on your investment.