A recent industry report* highlights what small business' are spending their resources on to boost their SEO efforts. Over one-third (36%) of small businesses say they have an SEO strategy. In addition, 38% more say they will invest in SEO in the future, the survey reports. Listed are some of the well-chosen tactics surfaced:
Social media marketing: 63%
Optimizing website for voice search: 21%
Creating high-quality content: 48%
Keyword research: 51%
A mobile-friendly website: 54%
Focusing on these practices is sound and will improve search engine results rankings to increase visibility. Each assumes to provide data-informed research focused on reaching targeted people seeking similar products and/or services that are offered on your site. These efforts are great and resources might be well spent; but are they the correct strategy?
Well ... sort of, ok, and no, but close. Sort of: these could be strategies every one on their own merit. In my opinion, however, just not the "correct-est" play. OK: Google finds these to be important areas of concentration and will rank each business appropriately. No: They are not what Google would consider the foundation to rank highest, but close. In today's Google world, the actual overarching strategy seems to come down to developing a positive user experience on your site.
It's fairly obvious when you consider site impacts. All the social media in the world won't move the needle in your rankings if your advertised Page Titles and Meta Data aren't aligned with the site content. (Did a page answer/meet user expectations based on its description or did they bounce?) If strong user-experience isn't in the site delivery method, you've lost them, (Is the user on a mobile device and not being directed to a mobile-friendly site?) If site content doesn't keep people engaged they will not return. (Are users moving throughout the site following a path to conversion or are they simply leaving?) The list goes on. Still, today and for the unforeseeable future, Google considers user-experience above all else because it affects all of these best practices.
Here are a few metrics you can use to determine user-experience on your site:
- Visits to Contact Us pages vs Thank-you-for-submitting-the-form pages: How many customers are arriving at the Contact Us page and abounding that form? Determining where those consumers are in their buying phase may be more important than considerations to the length of the form. Studying these trends against your own KPIs will allow you the data necessary to make the right decisions. Search Engine Journal is a great resource here.
- Click-thru-Rates and Bounce Rates: If your site is experiencing low Click-thru and high Bounce Rates, these are indicators that people are not finding what they wanted. As stated, titles and their meta descriptions should be symbiotic to where the consumer is being directed. See that in your Google Search Console and/or Google Analytics.
- Top Performing Organic Landing Pages: These Google search engine results pages (SERPs) link people into your site by answering questions along the buyer journey. Keeping these pages clean, refreshed, with obvious navigation will not only makes them user-friendly but also attract Google bots for crawling. Organic Page Reports in SEMRush are great tools to verify data (and are a good way to keep an eye on your competition.)
- Views of secondary and tertiary site pages: If users are digging deeper into your content (and converting as anticipated), you've put some quality content on your site. Again, Google Analytics for these metrics.
It is not practical to have a website that does not speak well to its intended audience. It is not logical to have a website that is never found. Ultimately, Google giveth and taketh away. Tools are out there to help us all be successful. We just need to keep up with Google so we are calling the right plays from our playbooks (and so that we know we are using the correct playbook!)
*2019 Clutch Report