Six SEO Health Checks

Customer Experience

Do you tru­ly know your audi­ence? When is the last time you asked your cus­tomers what they want­ed? Do you encour­age feedback—bad as well as good? Are you engag­ing with them on social media? At Adobe we’re striv­ing to change the world through dig­i­tal expe­ri­ences, and cus­tomers are cen­tral to every­thing we do. Through my time here, I’ve con­clud­ed that cus­tomer expe­ri­ence and SEO are intrin­si­cal­ly linked.

While mar­keters know that search engine opti­mi­sa­tion (SEO) improves organ­ic search, they’re con­fused about the best way of get­ting their web­sites seen. The pre­vail­ing mis­con­cep­tions pre­vent­ing mar­keters from max­imis­ing their returns include:

  • SEO involv­ing lit­tle more than key­word place­ment and back-link­ing.
  • Throw­ing mon­ey at organ­ic search, much as you would oth­er mar­ket­ing chan­nels.
  • Tak­ing short-cuts, such as using black-hat tech­niques.

Organ­i­sa­tion­al hur­dles may also ham­per effec­tive SEO:

  • Disconnects—sometimes wide—between pub­lic rela­tions and SEO teams.
  • The role of the SEO team is often lim­it­ed to fire­fight­ing, rather than guid­ing con­tent cre­ation.
  • Mar­keters often do not under­stand SEO.

The Path to the Top

Peo­ple often ask me how to “get to the top of Google by doing SEO.” I tell them, “Focus on the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence and write good con­tent.” They say: “Okay, what do I real­ly need to do?” Face it, there are no quick wins or short­cuts. Write com­pelling, use­ful con­tent and make your web­site a good expe­ri­ence for the cus­tomer. The same rules that apply to a one man show also apply to large cor­po­ra­tions.

To increase your organ­ic traf­fic, you need to be in it for the long haul. To use an anal­o­gy, think about it the way you pro­tect your health. Increas­ing traf­fic to your site is not a one-time issue, such as a headache, quick­ly resolved by tak­ing an aspirin. It is long term and ongo­ing, exact­ly like the steps you take every sin­gle day—brush your teeth, eat a bal­anced diet, get enough sleep and exercise—to stay healthy. For opti­mal web­site health, focus on your cus­tomer, on what they want to read or look at, and the expe­ri­ence that they have engag­ing with your con­tent. That’s how to win and retain their loy­al­ty.

One com­pa­ny I worked with saw an uplift in traf­fic of 2000% on an already high­ly-traf­ficked site. They did this by strength­en­ing their blog, hir­ing writ­ers to pro­duce excel­lent, time­ly arti­cles that occa­sion­al­ly man­aged to scoop the major news out­lets thanks to their unique insid­er per­spec­tive. When they ran an offer, they launched it via this blog, dri­ving traf­fic back to the sales por­tal.

Here are my top six tips for health­i­er SEO:

  1. Have a great top­ic. Write some­thing new and dif­fer­ent. If you have a point of view, put it out there. Your per­spec­tive is. Google loves active sites that reg­u­lar­ly update their con­tent.
  2. Don’t use link bait. That’s right—don’t. Ever. Noth­ing frus­trates cus­tomers more than a title that is ludi­crous­ly off the mark. Pages with high bounce rates are depri­ori­tised by Google. Do make your sto­ry sound inter­est­ing, but also make sure the title is rel­e­vant and real­is­tic.
  3. Get to the point. Don’t pad. Say what you have to say with­out waf­fle. Val­ue qual­i­ty over quan­ti­ty.
  4. Chunk it out. Make con­tent easy to read and visu­al­ly appeal­ing. Use spac­ing and con­sid­er num­ber­ing your points, as I’ve done in this post. Include graph­ics and pho­tographs. If your con­tent is read­able, vis­i­tors will spend more time on the page. Google uses time spent on a site or page as a sig­nal to judge how wor­thy your con­tent is of pri­ori­ti­sa­tion.
  5. Focus on the cus­tomer. Research shows that you have about ten sec­onds to grab a visitor’s atten­tion. Hold­ing it is even hard­er. Think about how you, as a cus­tomer, inter­act with your own favourite brands. Why are their web­sites com­pelling? Why do you feel com­fort­able on their mobile sites? There are dozens of rea­sons to leave a site, few­er rea­sons to stay. Again, it comes down to great user expe­ri­ence.
  6. Try things—and fail. Exper­i­ment with dif­fer­ent approach­es. Work with your test­ing and opti­mi­sa­tion team. Share great exam­ples that you have found online. Not every­thing will suc­ceed, but if you don’t try, you will nev­er know. Fail­ure is fright­en­ing, but it’s worth recal­i­brat­ing your way of think­ing about it. In my expe­ri­ence, out of the many teams I’ve worked with, those who accept failures—and even shout about them—are the most suc­cess­ful.

Customer Experience
Karen Milsom

Posted on 30-01-2018

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