Many of our clients ask us questions relating to how potential updates/changes will impact SEO. Many questions we field all the time come in the following forms:
- If I bought bluewidgetsatlanta.com would it be good for SEO?
- If we create a new, separate website just for one of our product lines would it be good for SEO?
- If we add detailed user employee profiles for our company would it be good for SEO?
They are not bad questions – they are however misguided questions. The underlying question is of value and strategic advantage – will I benefit from search engines by performing x action, and/or investing y dollars? At the end of the day the search engines do not account for revenue – your customers do. Search engines help people find your website, but it’s the people who are purchasing your products and services.
User Experience Is Priority Number One
Now that we’ve established everything we do is for our visitors, we can have a better conversation about internet marketing & SEO. When we talk about marketing we’re trying to reach an audience and sell something to them. We can define marketing a few different ways, but in the end sales are the goal either directly or indirectly. How can we increase sales? One way is to get more people on your website – ala search engines. But simply throwing more people at your website does not necessarily mean you’re going to accomplish your goals. Before you think about driving people to your website you need to determine if your customers are getting a good user experience while using your site.
User Experience Defined
The Nielsen Norman group defines user experience as the following five key elements :
- Learnability: How easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks the first time they encounter the design?
- Efficiency: Once users have learned the design, how quickly can they perform tasks?
- Memorability: When users return to the design after a period of not using it, how easily can they reestablish proficiency?
- Errors: How many errors do users make, how severe are these errors, and how easily can they recover from the errors?
- Satisfaction: How pleasant is it to use the design?
Rather than diving into all the definitions & implications of these elements, let’s just say that people should be able to use your website to get from point A to point B with as little resistance and as intuitively as possible.
Let’s Rephrase The Question
Now let’s change the questions around.
- If I bought bluewidgetsatlanta.com would it be good for user experience?
- If we create a new, seperate website just for one of our product lines would it be good for user experience?
- If we add detailed user employee profiles for our company would it be good for user experience?
Now we can much more effectively brainstorm these questions. Will my customers find these changes or additions more useful? Will they help our customers find what they are looking for? Will they help our company appear more trustworthy, experienced and/or professional? More importantly will they directly or indirectly generate revenue?
SEO Still Matters
How our decisions impact search engine rankings matter, but are much less important than how our decisions impact our users. Once we establish what we need to do with our user experience in mind, we can strategize our options/tactics for search engines. SEOs have many tools at our disposal to make good user experience decisions not only work, but perform really well on search engines.