When we talk about site traffic, often the conversation turns to the technical aspects of your site that can either go wrong or be improved. You would be forgiven for focusing on your appearance in search engines and thinking outside the site itself because traffic is about getting found, right?
Well, yes, but what the traffic does on your site matters too. The industry doesn’t know for sure what kind of impact user behavior on a website has on ranking. We don’t have much solid data from Google (really, when do we ever?), but experiments conducted by industry experts like Rand Fishkin have shown at least temporary correlations between user behavior on your site and search engine rankings.
What users do on your site matters, not just for your conversion rates and bottom line, but for traffic and your organic reach. When you’re constructing visuals and determining the layout of your site, it’s important not just to consider advertising and focusing on the people likely to buy but to engage the average user and keep them around. Even if they’re not ready to buy, their behavior can still benefit or hinder you.
Make Your Site Visually Straightforward
On a website, visuals don’t just serve as devices to catch the eye and stand out; they serve a functional purpose. Pictures, layout, colors, buttons, every element of a page should have a purpose in guiding the user’s journey through your site — whether that’s guiding their eyes down the page to important information, highlighting relevant navigation links, or drawing focus to buttons and other conversion clicks.
Over-design is a risk online because a complex design that looks cool can often obfuscate important information or confuse the user about what to do next. The back button, however, is always easy to find and people will use it when they get lost to get back to their search engine.
Colors, for one, are a much more consequential choice than how pleasing they are to the eye. Color is related to psychology, and we all grow up with certain common, conditioned responses to certain types of colors. We all know what the colors on a traffic light mean, whether we drive or not. This applies to logo designs, background colors, text colors, and how you choose to color buttons and calls to action.
Make Your Site Accessible
Accessibility options and accessible design are consequential factors for the behavior of your traffic, and accessibility does overlap with SEO. Not so much that optimizing for one necessarily optimizes for the other, but the relationship is there. So accessible design can, but doesn’t necessarily automatically, improve your traffic.
There are many ways to make your site accessible — here are a few of the most common!
- Variable text size. Provide users with an option to change the size of the font on your site. This allows people who have visual impairments to more easily access your content and interface with your site. Don’t forget about buttons and your top menu!
- Transcripts. People who are hearing impaired can’t access video content as easily. Or, someone simply might not have headphones available to them in a noisy environment. Subtitles are one way of helping those users, but transcripts are better. Transcripts allow users to read along at their own pace and allow users with slower connections to skip the video entirely.
- Title and describe your images. People using screen readers can’t access images in the same way as other users. It’s vital to appropriately title your images in a descriptive manner, not just the automatically generated series of numbers and letters. Providing a description of what the image depicts is also a great way to be kind to visually impaired users and include them in the intended experience of your site. Going back and changing the titles of all your images can be a huge chore, but you can get utilities that allow you to rename images in bulk.
These are just a few examples of how to optimize for accessibility and create a similar user experience for everyone regardless of their unique personal traits.
Use Unique Photographs & Images Created by or Owned by You
Everyone uses stock photos at some point. They are just so useful that it’s impractical not to take advantage of the wide library of free and cheap images online (always check the usage rights!). However, wherever you can, it’s a great idea to replace stock photos with images you actually own! You can do this by commissioning an artist or photographer, or you can DIY!
If you’re planning on doing it yourself, and you’re not a photographer already, remember that a lot of technical skill and artistry goes into taking professional photographs. You’ll need the right equipment, and to at least check out some tutorials about staging a photograph, stylistic choices, and editing. You’ll want to compare the costs and time of doing all of this against the prices of a professional and see what your budget allows for. Remember that content marketing should take up a significant portion of your marketing budget, so don’t go cheap on image acquisition!
Keep Up With Current Practices Like Video Media
The digital marketing world moves quickly. As one platform, type of marketing, or topic becomes oversaturated, you’ve got to be agile and move on to greener pastures. On the other hand, certain types of marketing become so common that not engaging in them can put you at a disadvantage. This tug of war between keeping up and moving forward can exhaust a strategy, and budget, very quickly.
Try to keep savvy about what’s happening in digital marketing and what trends are really taking hold. Video content has proven time and time again to be an extremely successful tool for delivering your message and keeping users engaged.
Many successful brands use videos not just for advertising but on their sites for the purposes of providing information, teaching, and interacting with users. Make video content part of your content strategy and incorporate it into the visual design of your website. Videos shouldn’t feel tacked on to a page but should serve the flow of a user’s journey and provide content that interests them.
Make Content Authoritative, Engaging, and Consistent
The Google algorithm is constantly in flux as it tries to estimate the best results for user experience. In order to do that, Google is looking at signals which indicate your site’s trustworthiness and authority to speak on the matters you choose to focus on.
It’s vital to establish a reputation as a source of credible and useful information, and of quality products that are relevant to the needs of searchers. You should be updating your content regularly and offering your visitors an experience that is friendly to as many users as possible while providing solid, useful information.
Featured Image Credit Pixabay