Credibility Experience Audit

Do you search visitors bounce?

As we approach the end of the year, and people start to wind down, it might be a good time to take stock of our web strategy beyond SEO. How can we make more of that traffic we're already getting?

Here are some things you can do to optimize your sites credibility.

1. Reduce Wait Time

Streamline your visitors experience.

We all know server response time is important, but so is any wait time you impose on the user. Do you make visitors fill out forms? Do your competitors? If you do, but your competitors don't, you might find your visitors go elsewhere.

Are your processes more cumbersome than they need to be? Is it difficult for a visitor to find things on your site? Could you organize your structure in a better way? Can you think of sites that were a pleasure to use? Compare these sites with your own.

2. Unique Brand

Brand is more than a logo or identity.

Brand is the entire experience, from the moment someone sees your listing in the search engine, until the time they recall your site from memory a few weeks later. If you had one message you wanted to leave your visitors with, what would it be? Do all your pages reinforce this message? Does your design? Your copy? Your layout? Look at ways in which you can empathize with people and the problems they are having. People need to believe you feel and understand their problems in order to read and take your advice.

In the good old days, brand wasn't much of a consideration in SEO. Relevance to the keyword query was all that mattered. However, Google has pretty much solved the relevance problem.

These days, Google wants to find the one right answer.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said:

"Brands are the solution, not the problem... Brands are how you sort out the cesspool."

Google's challenge is to weed out false information. Schmidt sees brands as a way to do this.

Brand is going to become increasingly important in terms of rank. What do brands have that unbranded sites do not have?

For starters, brand names are typed into search boxes as a keyword term in their own right. Brand names are readily associated with a product or service. When Aaron started, nobody searched on "SEO Book". Now, plenty of people do, and Aaron "owns" that keyword term in organic search.

Think about ways you can own a keyword term so the association between it and your brand becomes synonymous.

3. Copy Writing

Aim for clarity.

Are there opportunities to edit your copy writing in order to make the purpose of your site clearer? Are the benefits you provide crystal clear? Sometimes, when we spend a lot of our time focusing on search engines and incorporating keyword terms, we can lose sight of the people who actually read the copy.

On-page SEO and writing for search engines has never been less important. It's mostly about links and, going forward, the level of visitor engagement.

For each page on your site, ask yourself what you want the visitor to do next. Does your copy make this next action clear? Provide external citations and recommendations from third parties.

4. Site Design And Usability

Keep it simple.

Can you reduce complexity and clutter? It's not that your visitors are stupid, it's that people won't invest time learning your interface unless there is clear benefit in doing so.

What is the message conveyed by your site? Does you design support that message? If your site is difficult to use, what does that say to your visitor? People quickly evaluate a site by visual design alone. Your visual design should match the sites purpose.

5. Human-ness

One of the reasons social sites are popular because information is linked to a personality. The same goes for blogs. People like to get a sense of the people who produced the information.

It helps build trust.

Do you include signals of human involvement? It can be as subtle as the way your write e.g personal viewpoint, or as overt as using a photo. People like to see contact details, personal details and other markers of the human presence. Highlight your expertise. Update your content often.

Published: December 19, 2008 by A Reader in marketing


December 19, 2008 - 9:14am

Although it seems to be in a beta phase, this tool has cut 40kb of fat from images on my site. Written by a couple of engineers at yahoo (I think?), it's unbelievable:

(temporarily down now, I think)

December 19, 2008 - 2:31pm

Where I in-house, I tried to optimize for our main product. It was a product name that no one searched on 2 years ago, so I could've totally owned it (like Aaron did). However, they said no, since no one was searching for it at that time...and we lost a HUGE opportunity. People are searching on it now, but I am fighting hard to stay up top - and I can't crack the top 3 without spending money now. Saying "I told you so" is no solace for that lost revenue.
Also love the aspect of human-ness you note...and think this is much more important than many people think. In shopping-type sites, no personality required, but in informational sites, a personality is paramount.
Keep it up and Aaron continue to rock.

Add new comment

(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.
(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.
(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.