SEO has long been a thorn in the side of all blog owners. And a lot of sweating has been done over getting backlinks, proper keywords, keyword density, meta tags… yada yada.
But, things have evolved. Today, the new SEO is User Experience Optimization or UXO for short. Do they click it? Do they read it? And do they ENGAGE with it?
This episode talks about 5 key factors of UXO and immediate actions you can take to improve the quality of your content, but also optimize the user experience. Which will in turn help your rankings in the new world of search as it stands today.
Today, here at Coffee Break, we are going to talk about SEO. Now, those three letters sent a little quiver off your spine. I don’t blame you because the world of SEO has been this fairly complicated thing for quite some time. And a lot of people, they feel like the traffic to their site is very, very highly dependent on SEO which of course it is, unless you engage in some paid traffic and stuff like that.
But at the same time, it can be really frustrating to try to SEO your site properly because it seems as if the rules are always changing. And the thing is, they sort of, kind of… are. At the end of the day, any rule, any algorithm change that comes out, these pesky marketers come out and they try to game the system. And there are SEO firms out there who get higher to basically SEO client’s sites and they…. Ahhhh… Don’t get me started on SEO firms. A lot of them do some good work but many of them do some crap and they are constantly gaming the system and Google doesn’t like it. Because they are trying to put quality stuff up top in the search results and not stuff that has been gamed to get there.
And there are so many SEO firms that basically take advantage of the fact the clients do not understand these stuff very well and will then hire them to solve it for them. Many times they don’t get very good results or takes a very long time and they just come back whenever clients comes to them and be like, “Hey why am I not getting results with all these exorbitant amount of money that I am paying you?” And their answer is usually something like, “Oh, you have to have some patience; this takes some time…” Ahhh… Anyway, that is SEO and that is an opinion and I could state it all I want because it is my podcast.
Anyway, I want to talk about how to approach SEO today. But first…
The Old School SEO
Now, first of all, the old way of SEO is very much related to things like backlinks, keywords, meta tags; things like that. Now I am going to say “old way”, it is not really old. At the end of the day backlinks are still highly relevant, it still very much matters. Keywords; very much matters. The thing about keywords, though is that you have to do things naturally. When a lot of old school SEOs came in is that they were basically keyword stuffing the articles, they were artificially building backlinks and they had the same keyword phrase and it was over and over again and it was a very unnatural set up. And Google can tell. They can tell when it is unnatural.
And so when you are approaching backlinks and keywords and things like that in these old ways, do not expect very good results from it in general. Now, meta tags generally are not really looked at that much anymore. And so I really wouldn’t waste the heck of a lot of your time worrying about things like meta keywords and meta description except for something that I will be mentioning here, coming up in a bit.
Today, these search engines; and we’re talking primarily about Google here, they use a different set of signals as a sign of quality. Google is trying to get the best stuff, the most related and high quality stuff related to whatever is plugged in to their search engine and they are trying to raise that to the top because they want to have a really good user experience for people who are using Google. All these companies out there, they want to have a good user experience for their users.
That’s the same with Facebook. The whole issue with Facebook organic reach and stuff like that is a lot of ads because marketers are abusing the system. At the end of the day, Facebook wants people to come to Facebook and have a good experience. And that is the exact same thing with Google. And so for that, they use a different set of signals. And generally, what these signals are that they are looking for are things that are signs of quality; signs that people have said that “Yes, this piece of content is great”.
Social media is a big one. Social upboat, social shares like that are a big sign of quality because people are generally not going to share those things unless they think it is really good. Backlinks; yes, are also a very strong sign of quality because if you have got sites out there that are naturally linking to your blog posts, that is a very strong vote of quality for your blog post.
Now going back to the unnatural environment; you can go out there and get a bunch of backlinks to your blog post but if it is all happening real fast, it has all got the same couple of keyword phrases in it Google knows that it is not natural, and it wouldn’t be because if a real live human being is just kind of writing their own blog post on their own site and they think that your article is a good reference or something like that, they are going to naturally link to it in their own unique way. So a lot of human beings that are naturally linking to your article are going to link to it in different ways. And that is what people are looking for.
Now today because social and all these different signals are being used, we need to look at a different way of thinking about SEO and that is User Experience Optimization. UXO for short. It is the idea of actually measuring engagement with your blog post. And it comes down to…
3 Basic Categories
- Do they click on it?
- Do they actually read it?
- Do they engage with it in some way? Engaging could be things like sharing it and stuff like that.
There are a few things that Google will look for because the natural question on these things is “How is Google going to know what is happening?” Well, first of all if you are running Google Analytics site on your site. It is a pretty good piece of intelligence for Google. Not only that, if somebody searches for something and your blog shows up in the search results, they are measuring all the clickthroughs so they can tell if anybody is clicking through from Google.com over to your blog. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they are also utilizing a mass intelligence from the Chrome web browser because it is their product; on what people are reading. I don’t really know the answer to that but Google has got lots of ways to see; to look at all these various signals of quality on your blog post.
Now let’s look at a few different things that go into User Experience and how they measure:
One is good old fashion “clickthrough” rate. Are people clicking on your blog post, okay? Now, how can you optimize click through rates? Well, one is to have a very solid headline. We have talked about headlines before, I’ve definitely talked about it at blogmarketingacademy.com; but having a good solid headline that sells the click that makes them want to click on it is a good idea, right?
Now I mentioned earlier how most search engines don’t really look at meta tags anymore. And for the most part that is true. But the meta description is important because it does show up underneath the headline on the search results. And so, when people are deciding, when they search for something and your blog shows up in the search results on Google, they are going to see your headline and they are going to see the little couple of lines of text underneath that; that is your meta description. So here is what you need to do… You need to have your headline and whatever shows up in that meta description sell the click. You need to make them want to click on it because when people are searching for things, those things are what is going to entice them whether to click on them or not. And then Google is going to see the click and that is kind of the sign of quality of your blog post.
Now how could you control this? Definitely, use the WordPress SEO plug-in. I think I mentioned this on the podcast before… Totally free plug-in and very high quality. With WordPress SEO you can control the meta description, you can control the Title. And the interesting thing here is that you can specifically control those things for “search”. So for example, you can have a different headline show up on Google than what shows up on your blog. And you can do that with WordPress SEO. So you can actually tweak the headline that is going to show up in the search results purposely to sell the click because you want that when somebody search for something and your blog post comes up in the search results, you want a high percentage of people to click on your blog post because that is a sign of quality that the search engines notice.
It is the idea of how far down the page do people scroll.
Now if you have a high percentage of people who come to a page and they had never scrolled down, that would not be a sign of quality because basically you are telling Google on this case that they came to the site and said “Ah, nothing was valuable here” and you probably would leave which would also translate in your Bounce Rate; which I will be mentioning here in a minute. But Scroll Depth is a measure of “Do people scroll down the page” do they actually take their little mouse wheel or their track pad and moving down.
How can you get some signs of quality by increasing your Scroll Depth getting people to scroll down? Well, one thing is that you can put content over the fold of your page. Now the fold is basically the very bottom of the screen. And so, anything that goes down toward the bottom of your screen but obviously keeps going is going to generally get the person to want to click. So one way to do that is to have a compelling image; maybe an infographic, something like that that shows up, is visible without any scrolling but then obviously keeps on going. And that is what is going to make the person want to scroll down in order to see the rest of that graphic.
Another thing you can do in written content is to tease stuff that comes below. So at the very top of your blog post, you can make a promise about what they are going to get, you can maybe tease one or two of the points that they are going to see that is really going to spike their curiosity and make them want to read the entire post and those kinds of things that can make them scroll down.
Another little trick that I see some sites do is add a little arrow that kind of hovers there in the footer and just kind of makes it visually apparent that there is more down there. And I think I don’t remember the name of it off-hand but I think I saw a WordPress plug-in that will actually make this happen. I also noticed it at the Apple Website. One place that I noticed it from is the Apple Mac Pro homepage where they are selling the Mac Pro and they have got an arrow there that makes them obvious that there are things to be seen if you scroll down. So that is the idea of how to increase Scroll Depth.
Time On Page
That’s another factor that Google looks at. How long were they there? If they were on that page for 5 minutes, that is a helluva lot sign of quality than if they were on the page for 10 seconds before they go, okay? So how do you increase Time on Page? Well, infographics is a pretty good way to do it because infographics generally, people are going to sit there and actually study the image for a little while and in the process of doing that, they are probably going to scroll downward. So that’s two for one right there, you are going to get Scroll Depth and Time on Page.
Another thing that really works well for Time on Page is putting videos on there because generally, if the video is embedded there, people are going to sit on the page while they watch it. So if you got a post that has infographics, videos; you can also have really long post. But the thing is, you do not want a really long post to be totally text driven. You want it to be very much multimedia. So if you got a long post, lots of quality there, has a ton of images in it, maybe a video or two in there you are going to increase Time on Page and it is going to be a post which is actually going to have some legs because that is the kind of stuff that people want to share.
That’s another factor that Google looks at. Now we have talked about Bounce Rate before on Coffee Break Blogging so I am not going to go that deep into it. It is just the idea of what percentage of people come to the page and then immediately leaves. That is your bounce rate.
On Episode 56 of Coffee Break Blogging I talked a lot more about Bounce Rate and how to actually lower your bounce rate. So that is Episode 56 and for that reason I am not going to go too much more in-depth into that topic here.
But one thing that I do want to make mention of is the speed of your site. Because you have probably heard before that it will raise your search engine rankings if your site is really snappy and it is on fast servers. And that most definitely is true. And one of the reasons of it is because slow loading sites are one of the biggest contributors to Bounce Rate, okay? And so when you have a fast site, people do not get all impatient and it allows all these factors that Google is actually looking for and obviously site speed directly is also one of them. It allows them all to increase.
So yes, the speed of your site is definitely an important factor. One of the reasons when I was hosted over with WP Engine which is definitely a host that I recommend you guys to check out. Blue Host is one that I recommend people who are just starting out; whose budgets is a little bit more of a concern. But WP Engine starts out at $29 a month, you get discounts; I think you get a free (like) 2 or 3 months if you sign up for a year in advance. But WP Engine is a very, very nice webhost. I really like those guys. And if you can afford the $29 a month then I think they are a better game than BlueHost, actually.
Spelling And Grammar
Yes, they actually do look for stuff like that because at the end of the day, a blog post that has poor grammar or lots of typos is a sign of a crappy, low quality piece of content. It just is what it is… We all know this. And so for that reason you do want to take the time to check your grammar, check your spelling; you do not want to use any article spinners or any of that crap because those things usually, it is very obvious that it was written by a spinner, by a robot, by a piece of software. So just generally write really good stuff and check your spelling; that will help.
5 factors that Google looks at when it comes to optimizing User Experience
- Click through ratio
- Scroll Depth
- Time on Page
- Bounce Rate
So that is kind of the level of SEO. These are the kinds of things that you should be looking for today. This is why you can’t really game the system very well today. You have got to basically create some really good stuff. And that is exactly the way SEO should be. You should not be able to pull some magic puppet strings and somehow rank an article that sucks. And in the old days, that is the way it used to be but these companies are getting smarter, they are so much intelligence that they got; after disposal to judge whether something is really good or not or whether people like it that it really is difficult now to game that particular system. So unfortunately for people who are looking for shortcuts; the answer to SEO today is truly to give lots of value and have a really good User Experience. Okay? That is the way it is.
And with that, I am going to leave you with an announcement of a brand new Action Plan that I have just released into the Blog Monetization Lab. It is called Building Your Email Follow-up Engine.
Now here it what this is… this is basically an Action Plan that guides you to creating a strategic set of autoresponder emails that go on to your list. What is this going to do is instead of you relying on a standard newsletter or you just announce your blog post to your list; this is going to give you a real strategy that will actually help you automate sales and things like that. If you ever wondered with what to do with your autoresponder, how do you balance out your autoresponder with your broadcast messages and any of these types of questions; I do answer that in this brand new Action Plan called Building Your Email Follow-up Engine. And you will find that exclusively for members of the Blog Monetization Lab.
With that, thank you so much for listening about the new world of SEO… and I will see you next time! 😉