With the new year coming up, there is no better time than now to plan how you can enhance your Digital Marketing strategies for your business as part of your New Year resolutions for 2021.
More often than not, User Experience is ignored in Search Optimizations and overall marketing strategies. However, with the Google Page Experience update rolling out in May 2021, User Experience is now front and center for SEO.
User experience is generally associated with engaging the website visitors for better engagement and higher conversions. For years, Google has emphasized better user experience, user-centric content, addressing search intent, and value adds to users for better SEO rankings.
Backlinks and Keywords are still relevant and need to be part of your optimization strategy. However, with the Google Page Experience update rolling out in May 2021, Google has indicated that the User experience is also an important SEO ranking factor.
Some Google updates to the SEO algorithm need very little to no work from your SEO team. For example, BERT was one of those changes. BERT rollout was more of a fix or enhancement (depends on how you see it!) to the Google algorithm that affected the search queries but needed no response from your optimization teams. But, Google Page Experience rollout is a different story.
The user experience elements and strategies outlined in this article are some of the things your team should focus on optimizing in 2021 to improve your SEO and overall user experience.
Easy and Intuitive Website
The average human attention span is about 8 seconds. So, most websites have about that much time to make a good first impression. There’s not a lot of margin for error. So, the more time people waste on figuring out how to use your Website, the less time they’ve left for using your site. So, make your website intuitive and easy to use.
Intuitive Web Design makes the user know exactly what to do when they are on your site. Intuitive web designs help people put their existing knowledge in using new sites with very little to no learning curve. People with different persona and user skills do visit your site. So, it’s crucial to study the persona of your visitors and design the site intuitive to them.
On the other hand, a non-intuitive website disrupts users’ flow and takes away time from what you want them to do.
“Core Web Vitals” is an initiative introduced by Google in 2020 to measure the quality of user experience. It is expected to roll out as part of the Google Page Experience implementation in May 2021 and includes signals such as loading experience, interactivity, and visual stability of page content.
The following metrics capture important user-centric outcomes, are field measurable, and have supporting lab diagnostic metric equivalents and tooling. For example, while Largest Contentful Paint is the topline loading metric, it is also highly dependent on First Contentful Paint (FCP) and Time to First Byte (TTFB), which remain critical to monitor and improve.
- Largest Contentful Paint measures perceived load speed and mark the point in the page load timeline when the page’s main content has likely loaded.
- First Input Delay measures responsiveness and quantifies the experience users feel when trying to first interact with the page.
- Cumulative Layout Shift measures visual stability and quantifies the amount of unexpected layout shift of visible page content.
Here are some of the major reasons why you want to improve site speed.
A faster site makes both the users and search engines happy! Here are some recommendations that can make the site faster.
Mobile-First Design Philosophy
More than 50% of the traffic came from mobile phones in the last quarter of 2020. This traffic pattern is consistent with the mobile traffic trend over the last several years. So, if your site is not optimized for mobile, you are guaranteed to lose a significant part of your revenue. To accommodate the non-linear journey of buyers on multiple channels like desktop, mobile, instore, etc., you need to make your products and services accessible to your patrons on their mobile/smartphones when they’re experiencing micro-moments to provide a seamless experience.
The Mobile-First design approach is different from the Mobile-Friendly design. Mobile-Friendly sites are originally designed for desktops and laptops but are also made to work on mobile devices.
The Mobile-First approach is taking access to your site on mobile devices to the next level. Here, the website is designed primarily for Mobile-devices, where load speed, navigation, site real estate, and user experience are very carefully considered for mobile users (which also works for desktop and laptop users).
Easily Navigable Site Content
Have you ever landed on a site with long paragraphs or pages of only text with few white spaces and difficult to read fonts? It can be a frustrating and unpleasant experience that makes you abandon the site immediately.
A well laid out and navigable site content should have both text and visual elements logically arranged to help the author’s idea drive the point. Content should have proper titles, headers, sub-headers and make appropriate use of white spaces. Content having sub-topics that divide and address a topic in its entirety and having links to relevant sources make your site easy to navigate and read.
Easily navigable and reading experience makes the content useful, pleasant, and enjoyable. Enjoyable and useful experiences make your visitors repeat customers and even promoters.
Web Accessibility Compliance
User experience conversation can’t be complete without addressing Web Accessibility Compliance (WAC). WAC makes a great ethical as well as smart business sense. WAC is NOT a federally required standard to meet for every business. Nevertheless, it is a highly recommended standard for any business to meet because of the overwhelming benefits they gain by complying!
A site that doesn’t meet WAC guidelines can exclude nearly 20% of web traffic! So, just by merely making your site WAC enabled, you are not only becoming a good corporate citizen but also increasing your site traffic opportunities by 20%. The WAC measures are also the same measures that work for a higher Website conversion and improved engagement rate.
WAC efforts translating into nearly 20% higher traffic and a significantly better conversion rate are no brainer site improvement decisions for any business.
Voice And Image Search Optimization
The following data makes a compelling argument to support the Voice Search Optimization (VSO) of your site.
- By 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice-activated.
- 55% of households in the US are expected to own a smart speaker in 2022.
- 20% of mobile queries are currently done with voice search.
- Nearly 40 million Americans currently own a smart speaker.
- 58% of people have used voice search to find information about a local business.
- 72% of people who use voice search devices claim they have become part of their daily routines.
- 43% of smart speaker owners use the technology to shop.
The content written in the form of FAQs is more suitable for voice search. Long-tail keyword queries are preferred over regular search terms for voice search. Also, people tend to voice search more in the form of questions. For example, people are more likely to voice search “What is the highest mountain in Europe called?” but most likely to enter “the highest mountain in Europe” in the search prompt when they use the keyboard.
This article has some recommendations on how to write content for Voice Search.
According to Moz, image search represents nearly 27% of all queries generated across the top 10 US web search properties.
Often, images are one of the least optimized elements of website content. Simple efforts like suitably naming the images, populating alt-texts, using robust platforms like Digital Asset Management (DAM) and Content Delivery Networks (CDN) to store and distribute images may help you optimize your site for Image Search.
If your site has a lot of high-resolution images, Image Search Optimization may yield the best ROI on your optimization efforts.
AR and VR integration
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are emerging trends in marketing strategies. Immersive technologies such as AR, VR, and Mixed Reality (MR) have taken user experience to the next level. It’s never been easier to create a user experience of walking on the moon without having to leave the comforts of an air-conditioned room!
Using AR and VR technologies, it’s now easier and cheaper to create and sell experiences before people buy a product, a game-changer for many businesses like adventure tourism, large furniture, home improvement, etc.
Investing and implementing in these trendy and very practical technologies may help propel your business ahead of your competition.
Start Implementing GA4
Implementing Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is different from User Experience related optimization strategies discussed above. I wanted to include this as a bonus to the new year resolution list!
Google self-describes the new Google Analytics (GA4) as a next-generation approach to “privacy-first” tracking. GA4 uses AI-based predictive data. By applying Google’s advanced machine learning models, the new Analytics can fill out data for website traffic and user behavior without relying on having “hits” come from every page. GA4 is designed to work well with permission-based marketing.
From everything I have read so far, it’s a total rebuild of Google Analytics instead of an upgrade to its predecessor Universal Analytics. There are some significant changes in GA4 compared to Universal Analytics, and maybe that’s one reason why Google is recommending that you run them in parallel until GA4 is fully functional!
- It’s built with machine learning as the main form of data measurement, using “modeling” that can extrapolate from existing data and make assumptions about site traffic/user behavior. The new AI-powered “Insights” feature is meant to automatically highlight helpful information for marketers.
- It’s focused on giving marketers a “more complete understanding of the customer journey across devices.” And it seems that it’s more focused on measuring an end-to-end shopper journey, and not just individual metrics across devices/pages/segments.
- It’s designed to be “future proof” and work in a world without cookies or identifying data.
- Google Analytics 4 features “data streams” instead of the views and segments used by old Universal Analytics properties.
- There is no “view” level section of GA4. Whereas traditional Universal Analytics famously has three levels (Account, Property, and View), GA4 only has Account and Property levels.
- Whereas “event tracking” in classic Analytics required modified Analytics code or gtag.js script, Google Analytics 4 claims to enable editing, tracking, and fine-tuning of events within the UI. This means interactions like clicks, page-scroll, and more.
Some new year resolutions are easy and quick to implement, and others are difficult and take years (for example, my getting into shape has taken longer than a decade, and it’s still a work in progress!). But most of the above strategies should be reasonably easy to implement with the help of a knowledgeable Digital Marketing agency.
If you want to discuss how we can help you reach your business goals for 2021, please make an appointment today!
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