Your Customer is Not An Algorithm
Most of my business as the Mad Scientist comes from SEO so you’d expect me to say that SEO is the most important part of your Google presence, right? WRONG. The most important thing you can do to make Google love you is to make sure your site provides an excellent customer experience.
The way Google is ranking sites now means that if you are using best practice across brand, design, content, SEO, and social media, you’re heading in the right direction. What best practice is, well, that’s a bit up for debate depending on who you ask, but luckily all these areas of digital marketing are converging, which is as it should be.
Optimising your business for Google
With over 600 algorithm updates in the past year, Google is in full throttle, working to remove the crap from search results. I can’t believe that people are still buying shitty links from third parties and participating in link schemes. We found one a few months ago in Australia – a huge one, linking multiple accommodation sites to each other. It had been keeping them high in search engines for years and had gone undetected by Google. One of our clients had spent over 6 months trying to get ahead of some of these guys and out of frustration we went digging to find out what was really going on. Google’s algorithm hadn’t picked up on it at that stage, but it recently did and our client is finally ranking where they deserve to be.
Regardless of all this technical wrestling, and the struggle to prioritise where you actually invest your marketing dollar, the most important factor in this whole equation is your customer. I hear a lot of rhetoric from marketing professionals about how focused they are on this critical customer person. So often though, the customer is forgotten or temporarily pushed aside because a marketer or a creative or an ambitious and sometimes arrogant entrepreneur just wants to have an awesome-looking LinkedIn profile or website and impress people at parties talking about their smoke-and-mirrors business. Don’t chase the wrong thing.
How does UX impact SEO?
UX is actually quite straightforward to conceptualise but very hard to do well. In other words, it’s simple, but not easy. My advice on how you do it? Here you go:
That’s it. I’m done.
Well, not quite. The practical on-site user experience should engage your customer. First, it should fit your brand vision and values, and be easy to navigate. A great mix of visuals – video and images – should be juxtaposed with some incredibly compelling and engaging information. Lead with your story and the needs of your customer, and they’ll hang around and come back often.
What does “be awesome” mean?
It starts from ground zero.
- Your business must have a clearly defined purpose and vision
- You should understand your customer inside out (demographics, psychographics, online platforms and behaviours)
- You must have a meaningful and visually appropriate and appealing brand look and feel
- Tell your story and relate to your customers through content
- Help your customers make good decisions in their lives and connect/engage with them
- Be transparent about how you run your business (e.g. supply chain, diversity and inclusion in the workplace, internal culture experience)
- You should have a complete digital marketing strategy that is updated and executed often
- You should have an awesome website with a great user experience
- Good mix of images, video, and text
- Answer your customers questions quickly
- Make it easy for customers to contact you and/or make a purchase
- Champion thought leaders within your business to have their own voice (providing it aligns with the company, of course)
- Engage with your audience where they live (appropriate social channels and community events and sponsorship)
- Have a consistent bricks and mortar branding experience
- Deliver an exemplary product or service with every detail thought of and revised often
- Have an ongoing PR strategy and traditional marketing outreach.
Told you it was simple.
Let’s optimise ‘awesome’
SEO can plug a few holes for you to start with but if you’re are not willing to execute the “Be awesome” directive, or at least start the journey, then you’ll be pushing shit uphill. And we all knows what happens when you push shit up hill long enough and then get tired.
An SEO strategy is much more fun for everyone if we have something to optimise.