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June 03, 2008

SEO Tips- Don't Forget About Design and Usability and Think Like Your Target Visitors

June 03, 2008
It's easy to forget about your site's users when you are trying to court Google. It's tempting to only think about title tags, keywords, etc. as if Google was your only audience. But we are learning that if you focus your efforts on designing and building a user friendly site you will reap many SEO benefits along the way.

From all indications User Intent is beginning to be a bigger factor in search engine algorithms (good blog on this here). One measure of user intent is your site's bounce rate (this will vary from page to page which is important as well). You may notice that as your bounce rate goes down your ranking on Google may go up.

This is pretty common sense really and it draws me to the main point- Think like a visitor, more specifically your target visitor. If your demographic is 40 year old males interested in motorcycles make sure all elements of the site, design and functionality, are welcoming to that demographic. Give them interesting content and lots of it. Give them ways to interact with that content and make it easy for them to bookmark and link to your site. Seems pretty simple but it can be tricky to pull off depending on the product and demographic.

One good idea is to run designs by a focus group in your demographic before building out the site. Ask them simple questions like- "do you like this?" "do you know what to do?" "would you send this site to a friend"- and then drill in from there. Sometimes just feedback from a couple people can lead to dramatic direction changes which are much less costly than a site re-build down the road.

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