Cyrus Shepard recently wrote an article about how the #1 SEO ranking factor is satisfaction and I think he couldn’t be more right…
— Cyrus Shepard (@CyrusShepard) July 18, 2013
Google’s been saying it for years.”Webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share.” (source) The problem is, the core way they measured this was by looking at who was linking to your content and this was manipulated in various ways over the years. It hasn’t been till recently that Google’s algorithim didn’t appear to really rank websites based upon what they suggested. It rather ranked them based upon who knew how to get links with keyword anchor text and who created the most keyword centric content. Since 2011 Google took a stance on fighting spam by introducing two major algorithm updates (Panda and Penguin). Learn more about how Google’s Fighting spam.
I’m not going to go into detail about how they may measure visitor satisfaction, since Cyrus already did that in his post.
Here are 7 questions to ask to yourself. To determine if you’re focused on visitor satisfaction or not.
1. Did you design your site for your customer?
All too often I see websites that are just full of jargon and show no signs of life. Don’t create content that only your peers will understand. Step away from your jargon and think about how your potential customers would search for you. What language and terms would they use?
This also applies to the imagery of your website. If you’re an IT company and your site is filled with pictures of servers, wires and computers, will that make your customer feel comfortable or confused? Maybe some pictures of technology being used by a satisfied customer would be more appealing. I can’t tell you exactly what to do here, only what you know about your customers can, this is where point #5 below will come in handy.
@MattCutts “Think about all the different ways someone can describe something.”
When I say “no signs of life” I mean the site is stale, the site has no signs that there’s real people actively behind it. That’s where keeping your website updated with content (blogging) and having an active voice (social media) comes into play. Think about it. Will a customer be more likely to buy from a site that shows these signs of life or a site that doesn’t look like it’s been updated in awhile?
2. Are you really proud of your content?
If you’re already keeping your website updated with content through blogging are you truly proud of your posts? Can you even tell me the last 5 things that were published to your blog? If you’ve answered no, then it’s probably not satisfying to customers or search engines either. If you’re not currently blogging, then get started. Google has recommended blogging multiple times.
You should be creating content that you’re excited to get in front of people. Blog posts that you’ll email to friends, colleagues and customers. The kind of content that will even make a competitor say “Wow, I better get working to keep up with them.” If you’re not excited about your content, how can you expect others to get excited about it?
Which Format Is Right for Your Next Blog Post? http://t.co/iZd70RGQE6
— HubSpot (@HubSpot) July 19, 2013
3. Are you creating a variety of content?
Don’t settle on just creating textual content. Think of a variety of ways you can produce content for your audience. This will increase the chances of your visitors query being satisfied because people aren’t all looking for the same type of content. Some people may be looking for a detailed article, while others may rather watch a video, print out a whitepaper, or view an infographic. Heck, this can even come in handy when you’re having trouble coming up with new topics to write about. Just take another topic that has been successful and recycle it as a different medium. For example… a month from now I could turn this blog post into a slideshow and put in on slideshare. I could then update this post by embedding the slide show and republishing it again on my social networks. Some of those visitors may find the slide show a better way to digest the information or maybe they want to present this topic to someone else. Check out the leaders in your space, I bet they do this type of thing.
4. Are your social media efforts focused on engagement?
Many businesses are using social media wrong. They are just using it to push out their message, which is fine to an extent, but there is so much more opportunity available if you also used it to engage with people. Forget about how many followers you have or want for a second. The truth is you don’t need 1 follower to see the ROI of social media. Goto https://twitter.com/search-advanced right now and do this…
- Next to “near this place” enter your city (if your a local business, otherwise skip this step).
- Then in “All of these words” put a keyword that’s relevant to your business.
- Select the “Question ?” checkbox.
This will now find people near you who are asking a question about your product/service. Lets say you teach photography classes in San Francisco. You search for Photography Classes near San Francisco and look what you would’ve found…
Right there, without even having a twitter account I found a potential customer for you. You now have a really good reason to setup that twitter profile for your business and reach out to this individual.
5. Do you know if your current visitors are satisfied?
You probably look at website traffic reports to see how many visitors you’re getting and how many are converting, but are you asking those people how they’re experience with your website went? If not, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to find ways to increase your websites performance. There are a variety of ways you can get visitor feedback about your website but I’m going to steal a page from the post I mentioned at the beginning of this article and recommend you try Google’s free website satisfaction surveys to get you started.
Here are a few other ways to get visitor feedback.
- Online usability tools provided by @UsabilityHub.
- Visualize where your visitors click with heatmap tracking by @CrazyEgg.
- Learn who your most valuable customers are with enhanced analytics by @KISSmetrics.
- Do some usability testing by watching videos of people using your site by @usertesting.
6. Are you earning your backlinks?
Did you hire someone to build links and couldn’t tell me where to find them? If you’re answer is yes, then there’s a good chance you’re getting links that you didn’t earn but are merely paying for. There’s a good chance they may even be in violation of Google’s guidelines.
You should be earning links, not building them. How do you do this? Through creating great content and connecting with real people. If the company you hired is creating content you can be proud of and showing you how they are connecting with real people like bloggers, media outlets and helping them connect with your great content and expertise then then you may be creating positive satisfaction signals, which will lead to better online visibility.
7. Do you provide additional resources in order to satisfy your visitor?
When you put up information are you trying to help that visitor answer the question they are looking for? Or are you just trying to trap them in your website?
Don’t be afraid to link to other websites that will enhance your visitors experience and help them fully understand your information. You’ll notice in this article I’ve done that in a variety of ways. I’ve embedded tweets, linked to other resources, included my contact information and placed images. All of which I believed would improve your experience.
Are you still not sure why visitor satisfaction is more important than PageRank?
PageRank was a metric created by Google during it’s conception (1998, a long time ago in internet years). Instead of just ranking websites by the words they used on their site. They decided to look at who is linking to their site and what those sites are being said about them. In a way this was the first way they tried to determine how satisfied people were with webpages. Though this is still part of their algorithim today it is now only 1 of many signals they use, all of which are attempting to determine if content on a site is satisfying the users query.
Have I convinced you that visitor satisfaction is a ranking factor?