2012 has been a mixed year for the SEO industry (depending on which colour hat you wear). For the white hatters (like us) 2012 has been a great year. With Venice, Penguin and regular Panda updates rolled out, we’ve seen over-optimised sites punished, search becoming that little bit more localised and spammers feeling the wrath of the Big G.
With so much talk surrounding these updates focusing on links, spam and other off-page issues, little time has been taken to focus on best practice regarding on-page optimisation. Previously, this focused on a few key issues including design, calls to action, strong branding and web copy. Although these are good places to start when looking at on page optimisation, we really need to start looking outside the box.
Put simply, Internet users have changed. In the past we didn’t have the sheer number of search results for queries; nor did we have the selection of visually appealing sites that are on offer today. We are constantly facing the challenge of being the “best”, but with so much competition, the bar has been raised to new heights.
Another symptom of this change in user preference can be seen with the greater demand for social engagement and user generated content (UGC). Having a community surrounding your site is the key to success; it shows users that people are engaging with your company and builds a sense of trust. Search engines have also wised up to this change in user preference, introducing “Social Media Signals”, which they use to reward websites with large amounts of social media activity or “shares” pointing back to their site.
Breakthroughs in technology and more innovative web design have raised users’ expectations of design! With the wider use of HTML 5 and other design techniques, users now expect a “beautiful” site and with that, a beautiful experience!
Search has become more about discovery, users demand more interaction with the webmaster; they want to know who you are? What you do? And where you are? The tables have turned, and web users want to feel “safe” with your site, especially if you are trying to persuade them to spend their hard earned cash.
What can I do?
• Start by increasing and measuring your social media and membership subscriptions. A site that is deemed to be a social site by the search engines will be rewarded. A social site also suggests that there is a community surrounding this site, thus increasing trust with the user.
• Another great tip is to incorporate badges, mission statements and other corporate branding into your site. All of these things will only increase trust and help users discover what you are about!
• Be a show off, don’t hide any awards, accolades, memberships or certificates in a news page – put them on every page! Tell visitors that you are the best, and you want to show it off to the world!
• Test what works for your site, this is by far the most important tip. Change your design, navigations and layout and measure your bounce rate to see what affect these changes are having! Eventually you will hit a sweet spot and voila!