With Google Hummingbird into the fray, the year 2014 is going to be more about On-page User-Experience that your website offers to its visitors. Technically, it is going to be about lesser bounce rates and higher engagements. In simple words, the key is that if your visitors are pleased with the experience they get on your website, you are ready to please Google as well. You can expect more exposure and better visibility this year if you succeed in optimizing your website for visitors first.
But the question is – How to make a website user-friendly and how to optimize it for visitors first?
1. The Need for Speed – Website Load Time
According to a survey conducted by Gomez, 85% of all people who got surveyed preferred mobile apps over mobile pages and they came with two reasons for it. 55% were of the view that apps are more convenient and faster than websites and at the same time 48% advocated ‘ease to browse’ as the reason for their preference. This research clearly indicates that the need for speed in the context of mobile users is going to be vital in the coming days.
Now let’s point to desktop and laptop users.
The gospel of speed – the Google way
“When you speed up service, people become more engaged – and when people become more engaged, they click and buy more.”
– Urs Hoelzle, Google’s search guru and SVP of Infrastructure.
Google says that a 400ms delay in showing search results leads to a 0.44% drop in its search volume. Now you can easily convince yourself why Google is so obsessed with speed and why it takes ‘PageSpeed’ as a decisive factor in search rankings.
Do you know how fast Indian websites are? Take a look below:
Take a look at a few further facts:
- 47% of people expect a web page to load in two seconds or less
- 40% users tend to abandon a page if it takes over 3 seconds to load.
- 52% of online shoppers claim that quick page loads are important for their loyalty to a site.
- 14% tend to shop at a different website if the page loads slow, 23% even stop shopping or walk away from their computer.
Sources: Gomez, Akamai
Do you need more facts to start paying attention to your website’s PageSpeed? Optimize your website’s load time and be loved by your customers and by search engines as well.
2. Incomplete website pages
If your website is still incomplete and you are open for visitors, there can’t a thing worse than this. It is something like inviting someone special to your unfurnished home with an expectation of getting the words of appreciation for your interiors.
Put yourself in the shoe and think what would be your reaction if happen you land on a website that still says “Lorum Ipsum… dummy text goes here…” in its ‘contact us’ section? Would you like to visit this website again? No, obviously not. The same applies to your website visitors as well.
For this reason, make sure your website is complete with everything before being open to the public. Look for broken links, unliked pages, dummy texts, blank image placeholders, unlinked buttons or social media icon, unfunctional forms etc. They may seem to be minor issues but they leave a un-repairable negative impression to your customers.
3. No physical address or alternative contact method
The easiest way to be credible to your customers online is to be easily accessible to them. The best practice for it is to ensure that you have properly integrated methods to contact you and your business from your website. Include your physical address, telephone number, links to social media presence, and a working contact form.
The catch is that even if your customers won’t be a using a particular method to contact you, they find it easy to be convinced that the people behind this website are genuine.
In the absence of an easy contact method, your customers look confused and sceptic about offerings.
4. Aggressively visible On-Page SEO
Do you have keywords all over? In bold letters, italic letter, in Heading tags (H1, H2, H3…), image Alts, on banners, and in every possible place?
Hold your horses’ Gentleman!
You are indirectly asking your website visitors to go away from your page as if it is not for them; it’s for search engines only.
Yes, we are in 2014 now where not just search engines but most of the internet users know what SEO is and what are keywords. Do not try to annoy them by unnecessarily highlighting your keywords and other technical SEO practices. It indicates that your products/services are not genuine and you are trying to play on search engines for better rankings.
The crux is that this behaviour of yours make you look like a spammer, not as a genuine business online.
5. A stalled or dead website
I have frequently emphasized it in several seminars and online communities. You can’t actually avoid this factor in 2014 if you are really serious about your website’s better positioning with search engines and positive feedback from your visitors. Yes, I am saying it here again – make sure that your website is breathing.
Breathing means to ensure that your website is getting updates in some way or the other. The best way to ensure this is through an active blog section right on your main website.
When was the last time you posted a blog on your website or added a new page to the existing lot?
Make a point to post updates on your blog section regularly and consistently and share it on social networking sites. This way, you are not only pleasing search engines but also your visitors and prospective customers.
Do you know that almost half of your prospective customers check your blog section and your social networking profiles just to check as to when you made the last update? If the date is recent, it convinces them that you are active and not dead. They get positive thinking about your products and services and are more likely to convert if your website is breathing with regular updates.
Conclusion: SEO in 2014 is not about just search engines, it is also about your visitors. The overall experience that you give to your visitors can make or mar your online marketing strategies.
Hence, it is wise to think about customers first and then blend SEO with it intelligently so that it appears genuinely optimized not over-stuffed or over-optimized to your visitors.