When starting out, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) seems so simple and effective. Using keywords and content to draw traffic to a site is a common practice for most businesses. While it takes careful planning to implement, the general concept is easy to use and repeat. As a rule, SEO strategies give people what they want: quality information that is easy to understand and access.
Clever use of keywords and content strategies aren’t enough to generate long-term profit, however. While they form the foundation of search engine marketing, building a truly optimized site involves factors you probably aren’t even aware of. Surprisingly, most factors affecting your bottom line happen after the search.
There is a lot of overlap between these sections. An audit of user experience, for instance, can provide suggestions that also improve the overall loading time of your menus. A full audit of your site can pinpoint and address serious problems in five basic areas that affect your reach and conversions.
1. Loading Speeds
The faster your page loads from the search page, the more attention you’ll get from your visitors. Slower speeds cause visitors to lose interest. Load speeds of 3 seconds or more are devastating to otherwise flawless SEO efforts. Frustrated visitors are likely to tell others to avoid your site and earn a reputation for load delays. Some factors that can affect load speeds for better or worse are:
- Network and Server issues
- Page assets
- CSS and HTTP
- GZIP and minifying
- Browser caching
Small details in coding can make a big impact on load times, ranking, or the usability of your site. Unresolved issues can discourage your audience, driving them to competing sites. Addressing site programming and protocols can improve the performance of your search engine marketing campaigns.
2. Call To Actions
As a business, you should already be aware of the importance of CTA’s for converting customers and subscribers. Even great CTA’s can have critical issues that reduce their effectiveness. Page elements may draw attention away from the actions, or confuse viewers about what action to take if there are competing ‘calls.’ Older, forgotten pages that still get good traffic could suffer from broken links that prevent conversion.
While focusing on developing new content and marketing campaigns, it is easy to lose track of old pages. Evergreen content often outperforms new, trendy content and could be optimized to keep generating those sales or subscribers.
3. Ranking Inhibitions
The whole purpose of SEO is to improve your site’s ranking and visibility in search results. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of ranking factors you probably don’t know impact your position in search results. Search engines update their algorithms faster than most sites can keep up with. It takes a team devoted to monitoring these factors and how they affect each page’s rank to stay on top of them all.
An example of these ranking issues include:
- Page resources
- Title tags
- Meta data
- Language declaration
- Site redesigns
This is just a small example of the many factors search engines will use to rank your pages. Unless you have the resources to devote to these regular updates, you’re likely ranking lower than you could be. As an alternative, hiring a third party to keep track of these changes for you might be worth more than the hassle of doing it in-house.
4. User Experience
When designing your site, it’s common to focus on profit and the bottom line. Keeping the visitor’s perspective in mind can be a tricky process. The way visitors interact with your site affects their interest and ultimate conversion. Search engine updates take this into account, which means it can also affect your rank.
Drop down menus, social media integration and pop-ups are a few examples that affect the user experience. Be aware that the design of your site may impact conversion as well, either through poor screen resolution or inconsistent design between pages. A full audit of your site will reveal these problems and suggest improvements for the visitor experience.
5. Site Function/Usability
Usability may seem similar to user experience, but it is more about the ease of use and functionality than visitor interaction. User experience focuses solely on the visitor’s perception and ability to interact with your site. The functionality of your site takes into account things like hidden pages your visitors can’t reach and mobile experiences. This can also include missed opportunities to link pages for greater access to the information and more intuitive designs.
Sites with good user experience may suffer from usability issues the visitor simply isn’t aware of. Improving this area alone can increase traffic between pages and improve the performance of great posts hidden from the user’s view.
Large companies devote teams of experts to pouring over these nuances on a daily basis. For small or medium businesses, that kind of investment often isn’t in the budget. For a typical site, reviewing hundreds of individual pages to find these problems can be tedious and costly. Auditing your site even on a quarterly basis can make a huge difference to your overall profits. By not conducting a full audit on your site, at least occasionally, you are losing out on missed conversions and greater accessibility.
Whether you choose to schedule them in-house or outsource, regular audits reveal critical areas that affect your marketing campaigns. Knowing what pages need attention and how to improve them is a crucial aspect of improving the effectiveness of search engine marketing. Not knowing these issues can cost your business viewers, customers and sales.
In short, if you want to improve your bottom line and overall SEO return-on-investment, don’t forget to add SEO auditing to your practices as an integral part of your business strategies.