Today I had the honor of participating on a panel of local search marketing experts at JMU612 (a local digital marketing education and networking group) where a capacity crowd filled the Urban Bean on the outskirts of Uptown Minneapolis. The other panelists were independent consultant David Erickson and Lela Phommasouvanh of FWRD.
Photo Credit: Kay Roseland
The general theme of the discussion centered on search marketing, both SEO and sponsored. Lela and David both contributed excellent tips on practicing effective SEO. My summary focused on creating both a usable and a search engine friendly website. I stressed that an effective website for usability and search will have three key elements: content, performance, and a focused design.
“Content is King” is a common meme within the SEO industry. The phrase also applies within other marketing disciplines, but is especially true for organic search optimization. Search engines are attempting to deliver content to users searching for it. They cannot display your website as a search result if there is no content to index. Even more important than giving the search engines something to display, good content demonstrates that a company has industry expertise, is a thought leader, and has the solution to their users’ problems.
In this context, performance refers to the responsive speed of a website and to the usability of its various features. In this modern, mobile, fast-paced environment, slow load times are incredibly detrimental to user experience. Nobody wants to wait 14 seconds for a three image carousel to finish loading. Consequently, many disgruntled users bounce from slow websites to look for sites that are more user-friendly. The major search engines have incorporated load times into their search algorithms, so it’s wise to avoid sacrificing performance for extravagant design.
The home pages for Google, GoDaddy, Apple, and YouTube are good examples of simple, functional design. For most companies, using the home page as a directory for all the other sections of the site is an outdated concept. The home page should invite users to explore the rest of the site with clear guidance on where they will find the solution to their query. This issue is also directly related to performance, as a simple design will often load significantly faster. Also, with consideration to Google’s preview tool, an elegant design may even help improve click-through rate.
You can learn more about JMU612 through their official Twitter account here
You can follow me on Twitter at @Tracy_A_Henry
By Tracy Henry, Online Marketing Manager, Risdall Online Marketing Group