In bygone days (about a year ago), the lines of distinction between search engine optimization and website design were more clearly drawn. SEO was primarily a function of developing compliant source code and acquisition of relevant backlinks. Methodical and continuous effort would ultimately enable first page rankings.
Now, site design, architecture, navigation, advertising, and overall visitor experience are being factored into Google’s algorithm more than ever before. Some of the updated Googlebot metrics that help determine user engagement and the “quality” of a website experience include:
- The time the user spends on the website as a whole
- A high bounce rate (a short time spent on a site page without viewing other pages)
- Number of pages viewed per visit
- Page load times
- Conversion rates
Common sense has always held that these factors would contribute to website value. It seemed logical that someone moving from page to page and spending several minutes on each one would be more fully engaged than someone who opened a page, glanced at it and hit the back button to return to the search results.
We are now learning that Google’s algorithm is no longer as heavily weighted towards keyword density, meta tag structure, content volume and other easily quantifiable aspects of a website. In short, they are trying to accurately reflect human tendencies and respond by altering rankings based upon how rewarding a website visit appears to be.
How can you best respond to these changes?
Marketing Message – Make sure the focus of your website is obvious and easily understood within 8 seconds.
Good Offer – Try to provide some stimulation, financial or otherwise to convince visitors that you offer value and benefits exceeding those of your competitors.
Calls To Action – Make it easy for your visitors to make a purchase or contact you from every page of your website.
Quality Content – If writing website copy is not one of your strengths don’t attempt to do it. Hire a professional native writer who is well versed in current SEO trends.
Minimize Advertising – While income from AdSense and other sources may be important, keep it clean and don’t allow the ads to dominate the page.
Music and Video Discretion – Make certain your dynamic features are tasteful and that the site visitor has easy access to controlling the start/stop functions and volume.
The usual strategies still apply; continue to increase your relevant backlinks and link all pages to your social media postings. Make internal navigation simple and easily located. If you also address the issues above, your website ranking will improve markedly.