Your Search Engine Placement Can Be Handcuffed Without Strong Visitor Optimization
Another term to explain what I mean would be Usability Modeling and Testing.
The main point being made in this blog article is this: If you are going to spend significant amounts of time, effort and money developing your inbound marketing plan and search engine placement, you would be doing yourself a dis-service by not paying as much attention to what your visitor gets once they arrive at your site. Great search engine placement will do little if you can't take advantage of it. If your current bounce rates are showing that you have a retention challenge, you might want to refocus some analytic effort to the usability of your main pages. This is an important but sometimes overlooked component of an overall inbound marketing strategy.
You landing pages should already be configured to focus on very specific topics and they will probably do a better job at retaining and then converting your targeted traffic. But, what about your home page and the follow, main, site pages.
If you have good search engine placement for your main pages. but wondering why that traffic isn't staying on your site or converting to leads, you have to ask yourself if these pages are delivering exactly what your visitor is hunting for. This is the essence of good inbound marketing. You are attracting those customers that are actively searching for your information. Don't send them in the other direction because your site is unclear, confusing or drowning in images.
Search engine placement is great but know that once you've lost a customer on your Web site, you've lost that customer for good. This happens for many reasons: faulty or ambiguous navigation, bad interface design, long download time, incompatible technology, and so on.
What can you do about it? The answer is simple: Find out what your site visitors want your site to do. The earlier you discover their needs, the better. If you have a site running and still don't know why the logs aren't meeting your expectations, try testing your site for usability. One way to do this is to create dummy sites to test various scenarios of users transporting themselves through your site.
Usability is an integral part of the design process and should accelerate your search engine placement naturally. It should not constrain good design. Rather, it should enhance the ability of a good design to create a highly functional and usable site.
To make it easy for you, I have created a Usability Checklist that can be used to test your site before launch or even after you have secured some good search engine placement:
- Purpose of the Site - Is your site fulfilling its purpose? Is it designed to give your audience what they want?
- Abilities of the Site - Is it efficient?
• Is it intuitive?
• Does it behave and appear consistently throughout?
• Is it engaging enough for the user to feel in control and relaxed?
- Branding -Does the first screen from your Web site portray your business in a distinctive light?
• Does the branding appear on all the pages of the site?
• Does the branding appear in a prominent area on the top of the page, like on the left side?
• Branding can serve as part of the navigation system, as a link back to the home page.
- Navigation - Does the main navigation of the site appear in a prominent place before the scroll?
• Is your site navigation in the form of images? If so, consider also having text-based navigation on the page.
• Do the image links have tags filled in?
• Are there any dead links on the site?
• Does your site have a site map or search engine for those who prefer to reach the information without having to navigate the entire site?
• Are the navigation tools and system consistent across the site?
• Does your site give the user his or her exact location within the site, with clear options to move back or forward?
• Do the links tell users where they lead to?
- Images - Are images used in context with the content?
• Are images optimized for their file size?
• If there is a need to describe an image, is the description clear?
• Have you added text to the tag for the image? This also helps with the search engine placement efforts.
- Animations - Avoid continuous cycling animations unless they serve a purpose, as these can be distracting.
• Use Flash animations only if they are indispensable. They take long to download and often require a plug-in.
- Sponsors and Advertising - If your site has ad banners, have you considered optimizing the file size?
• Where have you placed the banners?
- Content - Is the content in sync with not only your search engine placement but the context of the page or the site?
• Is your content brief and precise?
• Have you cross-linked the content to documents or sites with related information?
- Technology - Are the interactive widgets on your site compatible with your target audience's browsers, or does your audience need to download a plug-in or software to use them?
• If it's important to use such a technology, have you informed the user about its need and importance?
- Overall Interface - Does your site have a pleasing interface, with colors matching the need and flavor of the site?
• Does the layout have enough white space to be pleasing to the eye?
• Is the interface consistent, layout and colors, throughout the site?
• Does the site look the same on different platforms and browsers?
- Feedback - Do you provide an appropriate feedback mechanism for any action on the part of the user?
• Do you give users an opportunity to provide you with praise and/or suggestions or to make an inquiry on any issue related to the site or its content?
• Does your site give users access to your email and postal address, phone numbers, and fax?
When testing your site for usability, you can, undoubtedly, add more things to this checklist. However, this checklist will give you a good start when evaluating on where your company's web site may need some initial improvements and can take better advantage of your great search engine placement.