When it comes to creating a SEO strategy for your website, it can be difficult to know who to prioritize: the user or the site crawler. On one hand, you want content that is helpful, informative, and readable to your audience. But on the other hand, that audience may not ever see your site if your content isn’t being crawled by search engines. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of writing content that is overrun with keywords in an attempt to get your site to perform better, but in the process, you could be alienating your users. We’ll guide you through five manageable ways you can make user experience a priority in your SEO strategy.
1. Find Out What Your User is Searching For
An easy first step in creating user-centered content is understanding what the user wants to know. Simple keyword research can help you determine your audience’s needs, what questions they may be asking, and what they expect to see when they search for certain terms. By knowing what your audience is looking for, you can tailor the content on your site to fit their search queries.
You likely already have a few keywords that you know your audience is interested in—for example, a Des Moines-based lawn care company probably wants to rank well for words like “mowing services near me” or “best lawn care des moines” since these are phrases their target audience is likely to use. Use these keywords as a starting point to find similar words or phrases that your audience may be using as they seek out services.
You can dig deeper into other relevant words and phrases by paying attention to the “People Also Ask” box at the bottom of your search results page and Google’s autofill suggestions when you begin typing your query. These will give you insights into similar questions your audience may be asking and may provide some more keywords to target in your SEO strategy. Other free tools like Google Trends, which tells you the popularity of a word or phrase, and Google Search Console, which provides keywords your site is already ranking for, can help round out your SEO strategy.
For even more in-depth keyword analysis, use a keyword research tool to give you specific metrics and help you determine what search terms to target. Webspec performs complete site audits for our clients and creates a list of keywords that can help your business stand out in searches. If your site has a search feature, we can also connect it with Google Analytics to get some insight into how users are using your internal site search. If you’d like our expertise in implementing a successful keyword strategy, contact us!
2. Consider Search Intent
Once you know what keywords your audience is searching for, it’s time to consider what they expect when they type those terms into a search engine. Typically, a user has one of three goals when searching: to learn something, to go somewhere, or to buy a product. In each of these cases, the user’s search intent is different:
Learn (informational queries)
“Learn” queries aim to answer questions about a subject or to help the user enhance their knowledge about it. The user most likely expects to find information about their search topic or discover how to accomplish a certain task.
Go (navigational queries)
Searchers with “go” queries want to be taken to a specific website or location. They are likely searching brand and company names in order to find that business’s website.
Buy (transactional queries)
Someone with a transactional query wants to achieve a certain end goal, such as booking a service or buying a particular product.These queries are important for e-commerce websites, where a potential customer is looking for a specific product.
In each of these cases, Google will pull together different search results pages based on what it thinks the user wants. And because Google ranks pages in part based on the relevancy of the page’s content, it’s crucial that your site is tailored to your user’s specific search intent. Pages that don’t fulfill the user’s end goal probably won’t show up in search results.
3. Read Competitor Blogs
Finding out what your competitors are writing about a topic can help you better understand your place within the conversation. Start by auditing websites that are performing slightly better than yours in search results. What information are they sharing with users? What strategies seem to be working for them? By making observations about what you like and dislike about your competitors, you’ll have a better idea of what content would best serve your users’ needs.
You can also assess what information has already been covered extensively by competing sites and consider how you can make your content different from theirs. What areas of the discussion are you more qualified to speak on than other people? If you’re actively thinking about ways you can better inform your audience and increase their knowledge on a subject, it will lead to stronger content and ultimately better search rankings.
4. Write Readable, Keyword-Rich Content
One of the most effective ways to improve user experience on your website is to write in a way that makes the information easy to read and understand. Longform content tends to rank higher in search results than pages with thin content, but it’s important to know how to make large chunks of text more readable and digestible to your audience. Users don’t want to dig for information, but if you make your content clear and engaging, they’re more likely to stick around.
One quick way to make your content more readable is to add formatting such as subheadings, bulleted lists, or pull quotes to large blocks of text. Since 73 percent of internet users skim blog posts and long-form articles, breaking your content down into more digestible sections will maintain a user’s interest and point them to the information they want. You should also keep your writing conversational and easy to read. If you’re unsure what “easy to read” looks like for your particular audience, many user experience guidelines recommend keeping your writing at a 6th grade reading level (just keep in mind that a site for elementary-age children, for example, will need to adjust to an easier reading level). Keeping your content clear is also important for accessibility—the broader the audiences that are able to understand your content, the better.
There are several other easy tricks to improve your site’s content, but the most important thing to remember is to prioritize your reader. It’s all too easy to get swept into squeezing as many keywords onto a page as possible in an attempt to boost SEO, but to a human, this type of content is frustrating and won’t make them want to stick around. If you focus your attention on answering your user’s questions and providing them with helpful information, you’ll naturally end up targeting those important keywords, too.
5. Optimize Your Content
While optimizing your content is extremely useful in making your site more crawlable by search engines, it also helps users navigate your site more easily. When your pages are loading quickly, labeled clearly, and are accessible to all users, users are much more likely to stick around. You can optimize your site’s content by creating unique meta titles and descriptions for each crawlable page on your website. This provides a keyword-rich description for site crawlers while also telling your users a little more about that page’s content. Similarly, adding alt text to all onsite images helps bots index and organize your site, and most importantly, it makes your site more accessible to all users. Finally, you can increase your site’s speed by uploading images and videos with a smaller file size. Site speed not only impacts your search engine rankings, it also prevents a user from becoming irritated by a slow-loading webpage. If you need guidance on how to incorporate high-quality imagery without sacrificing load speed, our designers can help.
Ultimately, websites that help the user will usually also perform well for search engines. If you want expertise in creating a website that is user-friendly and SEO-driven, we have a team of digital marketers and SEO strategists who can help your business stand out!