User experience (UX) is, in the words of DJ Khaled, key. In digital marketing, the user should always come first.
So, what does this mean for B2B marketers? How do we seamlessly merge SEO and smart design to win more leads? Below are best practices for building both an SEO-friendly and UX-centered website.
Get Company Stakeholders Bought Into The Cause
Know that SEO and UX can work in unison, but you must anticipate. Many articles online will tell you that SEO and UX have conflicting goals. This can easily be true, but anticipating this friction can help address problems that may come up when site changes are proposed. Communicate internally and work cohesively across departments. This can be a challenge, but a lack of communication and neglecting to incorporate your content strategy into website structure can impact the successful implementation of SEO and UX.
Understand Audience Intent
Understanding your customers is just as important as understanding Google’s search algorithm. Nothing will give you a better blueprint to understanding customer needs than analyzing their pain points and intent as they search. Why is the user on your site and how will you help them find exactly what they are looking for? Do your due diligence and study user intent via organic search queries.
Let User Intent Inform Your Site Architecture & Keyword Mapping Strategy
Knowing your audience immediately informs your site architecture, and therefore your content strategy, as well. If you are looking to improve your current site navigation, there are several ways you can draw insights on user intent from your site’s analytics. A good way to begin creating a wireframe for your site architecture is by examining user flows in Google Analytics. Google Analytics provides different metrics to look into these user paths.
- In-Page Analytics – Provides on-page percentages of link clicks and user paths. With this tool you can filter data to see the most clicked-on elements and establish how users are finding content.
- Behavior Flow – Visual map of traffic from page to page. Very similar to the above, but it creates a map based on page flow.
- Exit Pages – Measures the number of times visitors exited your site from a specific page. This report shows you what pages are successful at keeping the user engaged, and which are not.
- Site Search – Tells you what your visitors are not able to find as quickly as they’d like. A free user-specific keyword list! This list can provide you with new page creation ideas or new blog ideas.
Another resource outside of Google Analytics that gives you even richer insights is Lucky Orange. Lucky Orange records user behavior and creates heat maps showing you how users read your pages, interact with elements, and even how far they scroll. Although it’s not free, the software can give you valuable information, especially if you currently have cumbersome navigation and internal linking.
Once you have played with these tools and established the bottlenecks in your navigation you can then determine where there are content gaps or places where you can improve user flow.
Generally, you will see these categories in the top menu navigation. Determine which ones are right for your solution:
- By Persona
- By Industry
- By Feature
- By Location
- Why Company
- About Company
- Contact Us CTA
- Social Media Links
- Newsletter Signup
- Demo or Product Tour CTA
- Site Search
- Log In
To measure and optimize the navigation UX, look at behavioral metrics like click-through rate, time on site, bounce rate, frequency of user visits, channel of navigation, conversion rates, exit pages, abandonment rate, and page speed. Where are the largest drop offs? Identify the patterns of your website’s strengths and weaknesses and use this to test for improvement.
Content Strategy & UX Should Go Hand In Hand
Today, having a site with only product pages is not enough to build brand awareness. Successful marketers must be thought leaders and consistently generate quality content to build trust, links, and a loyal following. When done right, this will easily translate to leads and sales.
So, what is your content strategy? Do you have content for visitors at different stages of the marketing and sales funnels? If you do, you should strategically link your content pieces to relevant call-to-actions on product or service pages. Don’t leave organic conversions to chance. Successful site navigation guides user to the next stage of the buyer’s journey. Link strategically. Talk to your user. Do navigation studies. Test.
Still Waiting To Get Onboard With Responsive Design? Seriously Consider A Redesign
If your site is not mobile responsive yet, chances are you’re leaving a significant amount of sales opportunities on the table. According to a recent Google study, 42% of researchers use a mobile device during the B2B purchasing process.
Mobile responsiveness is the gold standard because it builds on both the best practices for SEO and UX. In recent months, Google has pushed out the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project, which provides online publishers and content creators an easy way to create mobile-friendly content. To continue to encourage mobile-first pages, Google also announced that a new separate mobile index will be released. Not only will this house mobile friendly content only, but it will be made the primary index. If you had not thought about optimizing for mobile – now is the time.
Savvy B2B marketers build a unique plan to reach and engage their target customers. Make sure your brand’s website reflects this. Remember to always align company goals with user objectives. Users have very short attention spans and will leave if their questions are not answered. Site design inspired by user objectives and needs will successfully convert today’s B2B buyer.