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How to Improve the SEO User Experience


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From the SMX West Conference in San Jose, California, March 3-5, 2015. SESSION: Actionable Insights & Conversion Tactics For SEOs. PRESENTATION: How to Improve the SEO User Experience - Given by Mark Munroe, @markmunroe - SEO Radar, Founder. #SMX #23C

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How to Improve the SEO User Experience

  1. 1. March 4, 2015 Improving the SEO User Experience Mark Munroe, Founder & CEO @markemunroe
  2. 2. @markemunroe #SMX #23C • Founder – Monitoring system to warn about site changes with possible SEO consequences. Monitors robots.txt, noindex, redirects, titles, headings, rel- canonicals, links and much more & creates an archive of your site over time. • 10 + years in-house SEO, including Trulia, EverydayHealth,, MerchantCircle, SideStep (Kayak). Background
  3. 3. @markemunroe #SMX #23C • “When your visitors are happy with your site, search engines notice.” – Duane Forrester • “Succeeding in SEO will be the same as it’s always been if you’re doing it right – give the users a great experience.” - Matt Cutts Search Engines Notice!
  4. 4. @markemunroe #SMX #23C • Make Google happy = make Google visitors happy. • Google want your site to ‘kill the search’ and have the user go onto the next search. • Don’t sacrifice the broad user experience at the expense of conversion! Long Term SEO Success
  5. 5. @markemunroe #SMX #23C • Conversion initiatives often conflict directly with the Search User Experience. • Over aggressive attempts at pushing users into the ‘funnel’ may obscure the user from getting the content they were looking for. Conversion vs. Search UX
  6. 6. @markemunroe #SMX #23C What’s the mix? User Breakdown Customers Prospects Drive-by
  7. 7. @markemunroe #SMX #23C What’s the mix? User Breakdown Customers Prospects Drive-by Typical Focus
  8. 8. @markemunroe #SMX #23C What’s the mix? User Breakdown Customers Prospects Drive-by What about them?
  9. 9. @markemunroe #SMX #23C Conflicting Goals? Your Customer Google Customer
  10. 10. @markemunroe #SMX #23C UX vs. Search UX Your Customer Google Customer
  11. 11. @markemunroe #SMX #23C • Delivering a great user experience is more critical than ever to succeed with SEO in the post-panda world. Visitors form Search?
  12. 12. @markemunroe #SMX #23C • Interstitials are an example where where the focus on conversions satisfies a few at the expense of the many. • Google – not a fan! “There are many implementations … that may be too disruptive to the visitor's usage of the site” Interstitials
  13. 13. @markemunroe #SMX #23C “Homes for Rent” Search Example User thinks they will be landing on a page full of home rentals. Instead they land on interstitial obscuring their intended destination.
  14. 14. @markemunroe #SMX #23C • Installs go up (the conversion metric). • But what about every one else? • Quick abandonment and bounce back to Google? (And there is nothing worse than an interstitial bounce). • Ultimately, can be damaging to SEO. The Result?
  15. 15. @markemunroe #SMX #23C Good Compromise User still sees the content they are looking for. App still gets the upsell.
  16. 16. @markemunroe #SMX #23C Objective: – a process that improves the user experience across the majority of users who come to your site! Improving the Search User Experience
  17. 17. @markemunroe #SMX #23C Why are these people coming? User Breakdown Customers Prospects Drive-by Who are they anyway?
  18. 18. @markemunroe #SMX #23C How are we doing? • Click path • Bounce rate • Time on site • Conversion rate What users do • Comments • Feedback • Surveys What users say
  19. 19. @markemunroe #SMX #23C • One way to find out is to ask! • Surveys! How are we doing? Let’s ask!
  20. 20. @markemunroe #SMX #23C “The Net Promoter Score (NPC) is an index ranging from - 100 to 100 that measures the willingness of customers to recommend a company's products or services to others.” Is this a good way to measure Search User Experience? What about Net Promoter Score?
  21. 21. @markemunroe #SMX #23C What’s wrong with NPC? A CEO for a startup told me his site lost 70% of his traffic. Analysis clearly pointed to Panda. “What do you mean we got hit by Panda. Our customers love us. We have a Net Promoter Score (NPC) of 65!”
  22. 22. @markemunroe #SMX #23C Who did they test? • They emailed their subscribing customers. • To put it differently, they asked the 2% of users. who liked the site enough to subscribe. • What about the other 98%? Your Customer Google Customer
  23. 23. @markemunroe #SMX #23C • Jakob Nielsen published an article analyzing the data from an IBM study • The first 10 seconds are crucial with the highest drop-off rate. The second 10 seconds are nearly as crucial (when the true determination of the site is made), • Coming from Google, people quickly making this assessment. - Will this site answer my question? - Should I trust it? The first 10 seconds are crucial
  24. 24. @markemunroe #SMX #23C SEO Search Satisfaction Survey (SSSS) Survey only users from search and quickly after landing. • You want to catch the users who bounce at that 10 sec window. Create surveys specific to landing page types. • Different pages type will get different types of users and need to be addressed distinctly. • Turn off survey as soon as you hit statistical significance (100-150 results). Just a single question! (plus comments) • “Does this site have have what you were looking for on Google”
  25. 25. @markemunroe #SMX #23C • I worked for a company with an informational site. • We purchased one of our affiliates which had a near duplicate of our main site. • They had amazing conversion, but had been hit by Panda. • I ran the satisfaction survey on both sites. Panda Example
  26. 26. @markemunroe #SMX #23C “Does this site have have what you were looking for on Google” Panda site 32% Positive (and the comments were brutal) Non-Panda site 58% positive Search Satisfaction
  27. 27. @markemunroe #SMX #23C How do we improve? We use surveys to understand why users came from Google? We solve their problem/answer their question. User testing to iterate and perfect.
  28. 28. @markemunroe #SMX #23C Different pages, different experience
  29. 29. @markemunroe #SMX #23C Why do people land on a hotel page? • Intent to book • Info question (directions, parking …) • Planning stage (looking for reviews) • Share an experience (write a review) • Interested in the hotel restaurant. Hypothesis for each page type
  30. 30. @markemunroe #SMX #23C • Create a survey based on your hypothesis. • Keep one opened question to catch what you missed. • If missing something important, adjust and restart the survey. Create the and run the survey
  31. 31. @markemunroe #SMX #23C Do this for all the major page type SEO Traffic Breakdown Hotel Page Airline Page Home Page Vacations Page City Page All Other Blog Fictional Travel Site
  32. 32. @markemunroe #SMX #23C What to do if there is a disconnect … Site Type User Need Real Estate User lands on home for sale, but they want to rent Business Directory User wants reviews but you have few Electronics Users want product manuals People directory Users expect free data but you charge Flight booking site Users want departures times
  33. 33. @markemunroe #SMX #23C • Fill the need … or • Send them someplace else to fill there need … (keep pushing the user on their journey). • Remember “When your visitors are happy with your site, search engines notice!” If there is a disconnect …
  34. 34. @markemunroe #SMX #23C