If user experience and search engine optimization (SEO) were characters from Star Wars, SEO would be the Sith. User experience wants to use the force for good—the goal is to have people associate positive things with your brand and enjoy using your website. SEO will try to trick you into thinking you need to ditch your integrity in order to bring traffic to your website. This means plugging in enough keywords and getting enough backlinks so that your website actually shows up in search engine results.
There is a battle between gaining control over your SEO and compromising your users’ experiences. You want traffic to your website, but you also don’t want people to immediately leave once they get there (and associate your brand with a negative experience). Don’t risk crossing over into the dark side. Our five tips below will ensure positive user experience while still maximizing your SEO.
Tip #1: Minimize the ads
It is tempting to recover some of the costs of having a website by hosting ads on your web pages, but don’t over-indulge in this temptation! Unless the ads are bringing in a substantial sum, they are not worth the clutter they cause on your pages. If you do have ads on your website, make sure that they are in line with your content and match the theme of your brand. People are visiting your site in order to learn about your company, not to get spammed with things in which they have zero interest./
Tip #2: Write creative copy
In order to maximize your SEO, you need to include keywords that represent your company and products. But repetitive copy puts a damper on user experience. The solution? Get creative! You don’t have to sound all business all the time. Creative writing is enjoyable to read and actually gets the point across better than business-speak because it is a more memorable style of writing. Make your content punchy, witty, and fun and the keywords will seem less repetitious than they actually are.
Tip #3: Minimize duplicate and thin content
An easy way to plug your site full of keywords is by having a blog. Some SEO strategists recommend writing short blogs with your keywords as a way to maximize time while boosting your SEO. This does save you time and money in the short term, but it creates negative user experience. People are clicking on your links because the content looks interesting. If you disappoint them with duplicate or thin content, users will think of your company as one that has let them down. And that doesn’t create much faith for people when it comes to buying your products or services.
Tip #4: Invest in quality backlinks
Backlinking is one of the best ways to establish a prominent SEO presence, which is why many SEO companies churn out backlinks on numerous sites for their clients. However, all too often these backlinks start to trump the content they are paired with. SEO companies sacrifice quality in order to save time (and therefore money), but this practice can really affect your brand. Do you think it is good branding for people to click on these sites and read content about your company that is filled with misinformation and typos? Didn’t think so. Enhance user experience and SEO at the same time by investing in quality backlinks. There are two ways to do this:
- a) Hire a blogger who will write about your company for other websites. There are plenty of businesses trying to save money by using guest bloggers, so take advantage of this. You’ll get quality posts on quality sites while still gaining the backlinks.
- b) Do your research and hire an SEO company that doesn’t cut corners with their backlinking. This can be the easier method, but you’ll need to read through reviews and check out the company’s clients in order to weed out the bad ones.
Tip #5: Match your content with your headline, SEO title, and SEO description
A common SEO practice is to fill your headlines and SEO descriptions with keywords, but it has to match your content. To prevent duplicate or repetitive content, businesses will often put keywords in their headlines and descriptions, but pair it with content that is completely different. This may seem like a great idea—you maximize your keys words while not compromising your content—but the drawback is negative user experience.
People don’t like being misled, and Google doesn’t like it either. If search engines discover that you are engaging in this practice (and they’ve got both bots and workers keeping tabs on these things) then your website’s SEO ranking will plummet.
May the force be with you.
This guest post was written by writer and S.F. digital strategist Anna Colibri. Her company Brand Creative takes the overwhelm out of digital marketing by creating tailored marketing approaches for small, local, and mission-driven businesses, leveraging both SEO and social media. Anna lives and works in San Francisco, California, with her two children. When she’s not working, she’s momming, meditating, or meandering the streets of San Francisco. You can find her @annacolibri on Twitter.