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UX and CRO

UX and CRO

User experience Conversion Rate and CTR Optimization

Why Conversion rate optimization (CRO), UX and CTR optimization could be considered  part of SEO now? SEOs are supposed to optimize websites to score well on well known ranking factors (Google uses 200+ of them but few of them known to SEOs), but are there are ranking factors related to CRO and UX used by search engines as ranking factors? In the early days of search engines they did not use any user experience related ranking factors, but that has changed in the last few years, the ones that Google admitted using as ranking factors (with small impact or results) by now are:

  • Website speed
  • Secure websites
  • Mobile fist index (they want to understand user experience with mobile phones especially above the fold area)

Let us remember also that Google bot has evolved a lot now, it can crawl, parse and render pages with better understanding of the layout (e.g. what is above the fold what is not, what is visible to users on the first load and what is not), understanding user experience on websites is becoming a high priority for Google especially in the mobile era where it is difficult to create a good user experience considering the limited screen space available for developers. The other question, is Google going to use the data available to them about user experience as ranking factors in the future if they are not already using them? Google owns :

  • The most popular browser on the web (Chrome)
  • The most popular email service (GMAIL)
  • Cookies on almost every website on the web (Via Google Analytics, YouTube and more)

They can go beyond link profile and on page SEO analysis to find quality websites, there are too many user experience signals available for Google now that they can use as ranking factors.

To make it clear here I am not asking you to be a UX expert, you just need to gain enough knowledge to cover the basics. There are four types of UX optimization that you can do and they have different level of difficulties and time requirements, I will walk you through all of them one by one and you can choose what to do for each website based on the needs and the budget available for you:

  • Web design standards and convention of the web
  • Experimental (using A-B tests and multivariate testing)
  • Data driven
  • User feedback driven

Web design standards and convention of the web

People visit 5-7 websites/day  on average, most website follow very similar standards that become expected by most users when they visit a new website, some of them are:

  • A logo on the left upper corner of the page that you can click on to take you to the home page
  • Upper navigation menu in the header of the page, in most cases it has a contact us page
  • A slider or a page wide image at the top is becoming popular in modern designs
  • Phone number placed in the header and the footer of the website and social media profiles linked from header or footer
  • Websites should adapt to all device sizes (responsive design)
  • A call to action is expected in the header area of the website (read more, get a quote etc)
  • The message (marketing message, company vision, summary of the content) has to be loud and clear above the fold

By checking a website design against the conventions of web design you will be able to come up with few recommendations to improve user experience

Experimental A-B testing and multivariate testing

You can provide users using technologies like Google optimizer two different copies of the page (multivariate testing where the difference between the pages is not significant) or even two significantly different pages (A-B testing), after you have enough data available you can find out the winning version and use it on the website.

Landing pages services like Unbounce and Instapage are offering similar services now

Please note that you need a significant amount of traffic and conversions in order for those tests to give you trusted results which is not available small clients with few conversions/week. For small clients you need to follow the standards of conversion rate optimization and convention on the web while doing CRO

Data driven:

Technology can provide us with many user behaviour signals without users even knowing that we are doing that (we still to respect users privacy), few examples

  • Mouse movement tracking, you can user CrazyEgg, HotJar or a free service like HeatMap once you have enough data you should be able to restructure the page to make it more effective for users
  • GA (Google Analytics) pages with a high bounce rate, in most cases this is a signal that users are not finding what they are looking for quickly enough, find the top keywords that drive traffic to those pages and make sure the users are getting their questions answered quickly without taking any extra actions like scrolling down or clicking on a tab or a button
  • Landing pages with low conversion rate, it could be a signal of low trust or lacking of social proof, adding badges for clients your already worked with or users testimonial could be helpful.
  • Slow loading pages which could be found in GA, those represent an opportunity as reducing web page speed will have a positive impact on conversion rate
  • Low CTR (click through rate) in SERP (search engine result page), this data is available in GSC (Google Search Console), CTR is low it could be a signal that your content is not relevant enough for that search query or the text snippet that is used by search engines are not good enough, always make sure you title tags and description tags are enticing for users to click, if Google is picking the SERP snippets from another section in the page optimize that text to make more relevant for the target keywords and more attractive for users to click.

There still many data sources where you can find user bevavious signals that you can use to optimize your website for a better user experience and eventually better ranking with search engines

User  feedback based:

Survey your own users, ask them general questions what do they think about your website or what changes they like to see, you can also use the 5 seconds testing or any other similar testing where you upload a screen shot of your website and let people see it for 5 seconds then ask them few questions like:

  • What services this website offer
  • What phrases or words do you remember from the website
  • What do you think about the design of the website

There many solution to conduct a users scurvy on your website depending on the CMS your are using, some solutions that rely on JavaScript can work almost on any website, Getsitecontrol is an example for that.

 

Finally even if search engines will not use more user experience signals as ranking factors, providing a good user experience should be always a priority for online success. If you think about user experience from a link building prospective, do people link to websites they have a bad user experience with? The answer is no.

Next step: tracking and Analytics

Technical SEO Tracking & Analytics Uncategorized UX and CRO

Best Tools to Evaluate Website Speed

When it comes to measuring website speed I recommend:

1- Testing the home page + few other key pages from the website

2- Test in different times of the days and different days of the week

3- Test using more than one tool (two at least)

Web Page Test:

Available form multiple locations, multiple devices and using different internet speed, provides speed index (the time required for the site to visually load for users even if there is still process going in the background of the website)

This tool provides insights how to speed up the website, a report, and a video showing the load progress.

Google Speed Insight:

The tool has become more valuable after adding Light House data and Google Chrome data (not available for every website), be aware that score is not speed, speed is measured by seconds only, seeing very low score does matter a lot of your web page speed is 3 seconds or less

This tool provides insights how to speed up the website, a report, a video showing the load progress and industry comparison.

GTmetrix

Available form multiple locations, multiple devices and using different internet speed, this tool can track speed history (paid feature) which is a handy feature to evaluate the website speed though out the whole day or the whole week

This tool provides insights how to speed up the website, a report, a video showing the load progress

Test my Site By Google

This tool is designed to analyze speed on mobile websites with low speed connection (3G), it provides insights how to speed up the website, a report and industry comparison

Google Developer Tools (Advanced)

This is a built in extension with Google Chrome, it has the ability to change connection speed, device, disable/enable cache.

 

Google Analytics (the numbers there are not very reliable)

GA provides average page load time in seconds, I did it find it that reliable, possibility because it averages number from different users and it works based on the code load completion which is not always a reflection of the actuation page load

Off Page SEO On Page SEO Technical SEO Uncategorized UX and CRO

SEO Training Courses and Conferences

There are many online resources that cover the SEO fundamentals and give you a good jump start in your SEO career

Search Engine Optimization starter guide (by Google)

This should be the fist document your read, it covers the basics of on page and technical SEO

Google Quality Guidelines

This is very important one to read especially if you are planning to be aggressive in your link building efforts

Google Quality Raters Guidelines

Google uses quality raters (humans) to evaluate their search results so their engineer can improve them, what we learned about Google’s logarithm throughout the years that it will always try to replicate human quality judgment, reading this document will give you an idea where is Google’s algorithm going

SEO Learning Center (by Moz)

Similar to Google’s starter guide

Google Best Practice (mainly for ads)

This is Google’s best practice document for ad, quality guidelines for ads apply in most cases to SEO which makes this document worthy to read even for SEOs

 

Conferences to attend:

Going to conferences to learn is not going to give you the best ROI, going there to network and meet new people is the investment you should be looking for

SMX – Search Marketing Expo

Pubcon

MozCon

UnGagged

Off Page SEO On Page SEO Technical SEO Tracking & Analytics UX and CRO

Tools That You Need To Master If You Want to Be a SEO Expert

There are some tools and platforms that you need to master if you want to be the SEO expert, some of those tools are used for monitoring and tracking others are used to make your work more efficient, many of those tools will be required for a SEO specialist role (many employers ask for them in the job listing)

Google Search Console GSC (Bing also has its own):

This tool has been growing for years and becoming the most important tool for SEO specialists, why?

1- This is only place where you can see what keywords are receiving impressions, clicks, CTR and where do they rank

2- The message center is an important communication tool that Google uses to tell you about issues and improvements for your website

3- The index coverage and crawlability information contain very valuable insights that will help you to understand how Google crawls and index your website

4- A sample of links pointing to your website will be available there

A dedicated post related to Google Search will be posted soon I will make sure I link to it form this post

Google Analytics (GA):

“You can not measure it you can not improve it”, GA is the tool when it comes to track traffic sources and users’ interaction with the website. Key hings you need to know how to do  there:

1- Setup goals and track goals per source

2- Understand and analyze bounce rate, time on site and pages per session

3- Analyze traffic by medium/source

4- Attribution models

5- Reporting on conversions

It is strongly recommend to be Google Analytics certified by passing the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (IQ) test

Google My Business:

Things you need to learn:

  • How to submit and edit a business
  • How to monitor users interactions like reviews, phone calls
  • How to tag the URL using utm tags so you can identify GMB traffic in GA

Link analysis tools:

Those tools will enable you to analyze the link profile of any website, the most popular usage of those tools is creating competition analysis reports that help to understand the authority gap between your client’s website and other competitors, the most popular ones are:

Majestic

Ahrefs

MOZ

SEMrush

Keyword research Tools:

Learning about the your client’s business then finding the more relevant keywords to that business is the starting point for any SEO projects, there are many tools that can help with that and all of them are using Google’s database:

SEMrush

Ahrefs

MOZ

Google Keyword planner

Website speed tools:

Website speed is a ranking factor with Google and it is important to keep eye on website speed on a regular basis, the best tools that can help with that are:

1- Web page test

2- GT metrix (I like their speed monitoring service)

3- Google Speed test

4- Think with Google speed test

5- Google Analytics  (the numbers there are not very reliable)

 

Mobile friendliness tools:

Mobile users have surpassed desktop users a long time ago and Google is following that trend by focusing more on mobile users, Google bot desktop is being replaced with Google mobile crawler. Making sure that is a website is mobile friendly an important practice that SEO specialists need to focus on, tools that can help with that:

1- Google mobile friendly tool

2- Google search console mobile usability section

Structured data tools:

Major search engines use structured data (Schema is the most popular one) to have better understand of the content structure (providing content in a database friendly format), once structured data is added to a website there are many tools that can help to preview them and test them for errors

Facebook open graph tool

Bing markup validator 

Google rich results Test

Crawlability tools:

The first step any search engine needs to start with is crawling the web, if the content is not crawlable or reachable (via a link or site map) then search engines will not find it, index it and rank it. Best tools to find about credibility issues:

1- Google Search Console

2- Screaming Frog

3- SEMrush

4- DeepCrawl