You may think you know everything about search engines, but do you know everything about your user base? Today’s post explores the overlap between social media, user experience(UX) and SEO. When they work together you’ll have an excellent reputation, great engagement and lots of high quality, well converting traffic.
This guide isn’t all about building traffic. It’s about keeping your traffic, making the most out of your traffic, learning from your traffic, then getting your traffic to return with friends.
The 20(+) steps are simple to implement but are the building blocks of a powerful strategy. Creating optimal user experience is the purest white hat SEO which always will benefit both your rankings and your conversions.
Engageability refers to what people do when they visit your website. Do they spend a minute reading the page they land on or five? Do they follow a link to another page or do they instantly bounce off your website? Follow my 20 steps if you want to increase engagement, loyalty and user experience.
On page SEO is all about user experience. This guide is aimed at giving engageability the press it deserves. It’s quite long but each section stands alone, please use the contents for reference.
Contents – all these sections are stand alone but work best read together:
- What Will I Learn from This Guide
- What Do Google Analytics Mean
- Why User Experience is Vitally Important For SEO
- 13 Ways to Improve User Experience and Engagement On Site
- Offsite Engageability – reputation starts on social media
- Rules of Social Media Engagement
- 7 Useful Plugins for to improve engagement
Short glossary of terms (my longer one is linked to throughout) please let me know if there’s any terms you want adding.
- Engage-ability: the measure of your ability to keep an audience engaged. It is closely related to:
- User Experience (UX): do your users like your website, is their journey as smooth as could be – and:
- Reputation Management: does what it says on the tin, I can’t stress how important it is to cultivate your online reputation.
What will I learn from this guide?
This post explores steps you can take to give your users the best experience on site. Also off site how you build your reputation on social media and forums to create a more engaged user group. The ideal user’s journey both starts and ends on your social media with as much time spent between thinking positively and sharing work with their followers.
As your reputation grows people will start anticipating your posts. You are an authority on your website (if nothing else). They will carefully read, respond, share and start discussions about your work. Your users are your greatest asset, with so much more worth than just numbers on a screen.
To put this blog simply – you give your users the best possible experience; they will engage well with your work and you will build a reputation through social media. This is the start on the road to becoming an influencer/guru. What could be easier?
Following are some very powerful techniques. You can over optimise a site for search, but you’ll never have a user say “my experience was just too damn good” and mean it negatively. That is the difference between this post and a more traditional SEO check-list. Optimisation means to become the best – are you?
The more you test and experiment what works for you the better this guide will work – there are no mistakes in these lessons.
First we need to look at analytics to get a clear idea of where your traffic comes from and what that means to your site.
What Do Google Analytics Mean
If you are looking to improve the engagement on your website you need to know where your audience has come to you from. This means setting up and monitoring Google Analytics (if you have already got Google Analytics installed skip the paragraph following this image).
This guide gets more advanced so for you seasoned SEOs skip this whole section.
To install Google Analytics you need a Google account. Analytics requires you to add a short piece of code to every page you want to track on your website. It is very easy to install. Google have their walkthrough for installing Analytics and WordPress has plugins which do it for you.
Using Analytics, see how much traffic you get from email and how much traffic you get from social media. Get a clear idea of where your referral traffic comes from and what you want to improve on.
You have a problem if:
- People are spending less than a minute on average per page
- People are on average only visiting one page
These issues are addressed later on.
If you have good engagement (a low bounce rate and a high time spent on site) chances are your users are having a good experience with your site. With careful planning these numbers can always get better.
It’s amazing how much your reputation affects how much attention people pay to your work. Look at which platforms or referrers have the lowest average time spent on site.
If the traffic comes from pages you can edit, try tweaking the text till the traffic from these pages comes in-line with your website’s average. If they are forums or social websites become more active on them using techniques described later on.
The problem with bounce rate and time on site is if a user only visits one page of your website – a user looking for a specific piece of information for example – Google Analytics will record it as a bounce with time on site. If you use WordPress I link to a plugin later which fixes this issue.
What can I learn from my demographics
You should have a clear idea of who your main user base is, but you could be surprised. Google is the largest data mine in the world and Analytics gives you a taste of that world.
Google analytics’ demographics are very accurate:
- So my main usergroup’s age is 25-34
- The majority of you are male
- With an interest in technology
- As well as search marketing and SEO
One important thing you can instantly tell from Analytics is if your user base isn’t what you expect it should be. For instance if my average visitor was 55-64 years old and into anime alarm bells would be ringing.
You can get a lot of traffic from misspelt links and double meanings on Google. This traffic is more than useless, it skews your analytic stats and these users will never buy your products or even read your work.
Beyond that there’s troves of information in Google Analytics. Everything from what country your user base hails from to what device they use most.
Knowing if you have a large mobile following means you might consider adding voice features, or tailoring your site to voice search (updated guide coming soon).
If you have a very large foreign following analytics lets you know what languages to translate your website into for ease of reading. You could consider investing in a content delivery network(CDN) to give faster load times – and a better experience to your international users.
Why User Experience is Vially Important For SEO
There is a long standing argument over whether metrics such as bounce rate and time on site are used by Google as direct ranking factors. If you are interested I have two other studies on how much we know about how Google works which can give a bit of background on this post.
Undeniably bounce rate and time on site has been shown in many correlation studies to be related. But correlation studies are flawed. Google have said in the past that they don’t use analytic data in their algorithm but there are several other ways that they could get similar data.
Google own Chrome (the web browser). Chrome has a large user base – it has been estimated that 50% of all web requests come from Chrome (multiple studies) – and this could give Google access to all kinds of data. They could and probably do use metrics we don’t even think about if they use the Chrome data – they’d be mad not to.
More simply they can easily get bounce data from users who click onto a web page from their search engine result page (SERP) and then press the back button. This could also give them an idea of how long people spend on a website.
While none of this is confirmed I find it very likely that some variation of bounce rate is used in Google’s algorithm
13 Ways of improving UX and Engagement Onsite
User experience optimisation is intertwined with SEO best practices. Following is a list of tricks on how you can improve your user experience, leading to more of your site getting read on each visit and visitors coming back more, subscribing to an email list or social media.
This is actually far more valuable than appearing for lots of low traffic terms. The following steps are nearly always beneficial in that you can’t over optimise with them, but if you feel something will do more damage than good for you of course don’t include it.
For instance if an email subscription box looks out of place you won’t get any subscribers and it may alienate some of your user base. Try and find alternatives till one fits. But always remember you know your client base better than any marketer
1. Textual Characteristics
This section is important. The human eye is attracted to variety. Partially, this goes far back into out evolutionary history. You needed to recognise and respond to something out of place before your brain had time to think in order to catch your dinner – reflex.
So when I say “This section is important” you stop skim reading if you were, and start paying attention for a time.
We are drawn to contrast so take advantage of that. Make your work colourful. Humans are easily bored which can be a bad thing but the secret to great blogging is great design. Content is very important but delivery is equally important.
If you are talking in front of a crowd you can say whatever you want – if your delivery isn’t up to scratch people will be thinking of places they would rather be, things they’d rather do.
The same is true online – except there is a very attractive back button to avoid the embarrassment of having to actively walk out of a talk.
Breaking text up into a lot of sub headings means that a skim reader is more likely to find the information they are looking for.
You can also use quotes to make text more engageable and readable – this should grab a skim reader’s attention
Quotes and image captions are read a lot more than regular text so good use of these techniques will get a user’s attention and hopefully encourage them to read the whole section, and maybe click a relevant link you give them. If you overuse these techniques they become useless. People will treat them as regular text.
I also want to give honourable mention to the introduction to this blog. I was trying to be clever and hopefully it worked.
There are four paragraphs above the fold of the majority of monitors. The first paragraph is bold and the logical start, but the last paragraph is italicised and has a sentence which is bold italicised and underlined. Attractive to your reptilian brain as something out of place and therefore worth investigation.
My logic is that some people will read the last paragraph, then move onto the first paragraph. I made it so the passage works when read either way.
I figure if a user reads both paragraphs I have a better chance of getting their attention for the rest of the post – considering the short window you have, this could double some of the engagement metrics this post gets.
Please comment at the bottom with whether my plan worked. Remember, delivery can be more important than content for getting engagement. Content is no longer king we have too damned much.
You should always be looking at how you can decorate your text to make it more interesting for the reader so that they read and engage more.
2. Your Homepage
Your homepage is there to send people to the content which they are most likely to read. Imagining a user’s experience through your site allows you to build a layout which both keeps your users on site and reading your pages as much as possible.
But you want your homepage dynamic – both for SEO and user experience . If your homepage is regularly updated with content your audience will bookmark it and check back regularly to see what you are doing. Your homepage is your most important page. Don’t neglect it.
3. Meta description and title
The description and title of your page before people visit is vital. This is like your virtual shop front. You want to encourage people to click onto your website rather than anybody else’s. It is extremely important you give an accurate description of what people will find.
If people visit your page and find it has nothing to do with the description that persuaded them to choose your page in the first place they will bounce. This could also damage the chance of them coming back in future.
4. Have good page load times
If your pages are loading slowly your visitors won’t take full advantage of your site. Slow loading pages are seen as a sign of low quality so we are less likely to share them. They are frustrating so chances are we’d leave them.
Run your website though Google’s PageSpeed Insights. This will give you personalised advice on how to improve page load times. The best thing is it’s Google’s products so their analysis of your page speed is likely used in their notoriously secretive algorithm.
Another great tool is Pingdom. Pingdom analyses the load speed of every aspect of your page. If you have a image, font or most likely plugin taking an unnecessarily long time to load Pingdom helps you identify and fix these issues in a way the Google’s insights don’t.
This will reduce the chance of people getting bored and bouncing from your page as well as having its own SEO benefits. The are also websites designed to compress images. Try to compress your page coding where possible, and use caching – all detailed in the final section on plugins to improve engagement.
An interesting fact is as far as we know page speed only directly affects the rankings of 1% of all websites, but it is still seen as one of the most important on site factors. This shows the power of the indirect ranking factor.
5. Ensure your page is responsive on all devices
It is important that if people use tablets and smartphones as well as desktops they can read your content. You can use ‘Fetch as Google‘ in webmaster tools to view your pages as different devices would and see if you need to improve your layout. Design is very important. If your page looks messy on any platform people are less likely to read the whole of it.
With the recent ‘mobigeddon’ it has become more important to have a “mobile friendly site”. Google has introduced the mobile friendly website checker. Are you mobile friendly? If not your SEO is probably suffering – but more important your users are.
6. Break blocks of text with images
Big blocks of text are intimidating. You can use images to make the layout of your website more attractive and also make a user more likely to engage with your page for longer.
7. Try and create long content
If you can write more than 6000 words on a topic do it. These guides are impressive and can draw in a lot of traffic. More importantly people share them a lot and one well written long guide can do great things for your reputation.
Link out throughout the posts that you make to send your users tactically to other pages you think might be relevant for them (plan your users journey).
But don’t fill your blogs with fluff for search engines. Even if you find a good way of endlessly repeating yourself which is SEO friendly, it isn’t user friendly and will damage user experience and your longer term SEO strategy.
8. Avoid popups
There is one exception to this rule. Nobody likes popups. If you are using popup ads on a site chances are you are causing a lot of your search traffic to bounce. Ask yourself whether you really need advertising revenue. If you have a site selling a product chances are you will cause more potential clients to leave your pages then you will make through adverts.
9. Keep videos short and relevant
It is great having a short video on your page. The problem is if a video is too long your viewer will get bored. If they are no longer interested in the subject they are watching they are unlikely to read the rest of the page or follow any links off your page.
Also interesting, the percentage of a video which viewed is a ranking factor in YouTube. It is not impossible that the same is true with regular search. Practically this means you should keep the videos you use on your site there for a clear reason, and no longer than necessary because it’s fairly likely that video engagement will affect your rankings in some way.
If you are unsure if a video is completely relevant to your page you are better off without one.
10. Avoid over-sized images
Having massive images or slideshows at the top of webpages is becoming increasingly popular. You have only a short amount of time to grab a user’s attention so having big images are risky. While this practice can be great for branding I personally don’t approve.
People want to instantly find what they are looking for when they use search engines. If they have to scroll down to get to the main content of an article there is a high risk of them bouncing. Additionally large images increase page load time which is bad for SEO.
But if you think you have something appropriate by all means test an image heavy layout and a non image heavy layout. My opinion isn’t gospel. What is important is all images are optimised – this means they take minimum space on your server and load quickly.
11. Have a prominent phone number
For some businesses the first thing that clients look for on your page is a phone number. If your phone number isn’t clearly shown at the top of your page often people will bounce (this doesn’t apply to all websites but is a consideration). If you have somebody on the phone to you it gives you the option of working your charm and making a friend who may be persuadable to share your work.
12. Include linked contents at the top of pages
If you have a large body of text include a contents list at the top of the page and break your text up with clear subheadings. With this article if somebody searches for “techniques to improve engageabillity” and they see in the contents that this is a heading in this blog it is very unlikely for them to bounce.
I describe how you can easily utilise internal on page linking in “all about links’ SEO attributes“. If you can set-up a hyper link you can set-up internal anchors.
13. Internal linking – never let a user hit a brick wall
Internal linking needs it’s own section because it is a very important part of engagement. You want people to find the information they are looking for quickly – but you don’t just want them to bounce. We have looked at the ongoing discussion already – is a bounce inherently bad? Maybe not – but you could do more with this traffic.
If you have webmaster tools setup (if not read this guide) it is worth checking which pages get the highest search traffic. To a point you can see from what search terms, but it is better to look for any surprises which may be there. Short pieces of content you never really liked.
For me #7 was a surprise – Bing VS Google which is the best engine it was 400 words of content comparing Bing with Google and it was knocking some of my other pages out the water for search traffic.
So I took a look at it and saw opportunity. I added a section so it is now ~900 words. That’s still very short but I am working on a lot at the moment and can always revisit it. I reorganised the linking structure so instead of having a generic link at the end:
It now has a scattering of organic links throughout the text. It is now long enough to allow for that. Now when people visit that page instead of hitting a brick wall if they know anything about SEO they should be gently eased in to some of my more basic articles..
Offsite Engageability – Reputation Starts on Social Media
Great SEO is about identifying what your assets are and leveraging them. Engagement often starts with social media and so to a large extent does user experience. One bad review carefully placed through social media can go viral and damage a business. So it is vital for you to stay on top of social media in (and throughout) the modern day.
If your social followers don’t engage well with your work nobody else will. Ask yourself who you have a good relationship on social media with – people who if you asked for a SEO related favour, like guest blog spot or to build a link, they would do it without asking for one in return.
I recently did a test on my Google+ account. Google+ allows posting GIF animations, and since I started using G+ I have tried to post GIFs now and then because my audience seems to like them. They have no relevance to SEO but they can be very cool and quite beautiful.
I wrote a post titled: How to make a Google+ post stand out. I then wrote five paragraphs on the subject and posted a GIF. In the final paragraph I wrote “please comment if you read to the end”. I then posted it publicly.
I shared the same post into a community and had a much better response, around six people read the text to the end. I got lots of shares and +1s because people liked the picture, but very few people read the attached text compared to how many people saw it.
The community I shared in is a trusted platform. People expect good information to come from posts written in this community so they are more likely to read everything and respond accordingly. This respect follows when they visit your website.
On social media you need to build a reputation for only posting the best work – whether it is your own or somebody else’s. While you are doing that, leverage established groups for traffic and to gain high quality followers.
Ideally on sites like Twitter you want to be posting regularly to get your name noticed, but if you aren’t known for the quality of work you may well find some people barely skim reading the links you post, or not reading them at all even if they favourite or reshare them.
If you trust the source of a blog post you are more likely to read all their work carefully and share it. You are more likely to sign up to email lists. This distribution network steadily grows with your reputation. Even time on site seems to steadily increase as your reputation grows.
Start a discussion – build your reputation
Starting on social media can be hard. People don’t know you and they need to see not just a quality piece of work, but consistent quality in the articles you post and the way that you interact with other people.
People will tend not to read what you are writing. Infographics are a good way to start a discussion because people can decide if they are going to be useful for them at one glance. I wrote about convenience being king on the internet (nice short read), and no where is that more true than on social media.
Some people are very happy to spend all day on social media. They will follow links from sources they trust, and read long posts carefully from sources that they really trust, but generally people use social media to interact with friends and acquaintances.
Rules of Social Media Engagement
I’d like to be clear that in marketing there really are no rules. Some best practices maybe, but because the marketing/SEO world is so varied you can never be sure that a rule will always help everybody. Take your time and learn what is best for you and your audience.
If you are an outsider, even with great content it is hard to get your work seen. Social gurus often quote an 80/20 rule – that you should share 4 pieces of other people’s work for every one piece of your own. A close variation is to make no more than 20% of posts sales focused.
I find rules like that a bit wooden, here are some of my own. Like everything in marketing it’s best to build up an idea of what works best for you.
- Be as active as you can.
- Reshare EVERY link you read which you find interesting and think your audience will like.
- Start discussions on other people’s social media – You need to build respect before people will start conversations about your work.
But all that is still a bit wooden and SEO (or soft SEO, UX, engageability or whatever you’d like to call it) should be flexible. You need to get a feel for what sort of work people like and the time of day you should be posting.
To really build a reputation on social media you need to make posts on those social media platforms without linking out to other places. Competitions are great ways of doing this: “like and share this image to win…” – we have all seen them.
You can even use these competitions to get people to sign up to your email subscription list. These competitions don’t necessarily get you the following you want though, and do little to help your reputation.
The GIF test on Google+ which I described in the last section is a good example. It identified the people who do read my work and are willing to engage with me.
A lot of people asked for updates on what I will do with the information I get. Others shared the post to test it with their own followers. These people will receive notifications when this is posted and I will try and give them some added value for being among my best followers.
You’ll find that generally people with the best reputation have the largest following, and the largest amount of followers willing to do things for them. Things like building a link to aid SEO or buying a product you endorse. There’s another name for these people – influencers. For bloggers there is nothing more important than the reputation you build through social media.
Even if a lot of your work is being shared you can’t be sure that people are actually reading it. This is why it is good to do tests like the one I did now and then.
The more you engage with your audience the more they will engage with you. Build your reputation starting with social media and you will see your bounce rate go down, people spending more time on your website and reading more pages.
You also should notice more social shares over time and more links being built you your website. All this has a strong effect on your SEO and you should notice your traffic go up naturally. What you really want to be achieving is for your site engagement to improve as your traffic increases. That’s how you know you are doing something right.
As a general guide people say you should post on social media daily. I feel this is important but what is more important is to interact with other people’s posts as much as you can on a more than daily basis. Engaging with others is how you can build your reputation and improve how they engage with you.
Twitter is very fast moving and that can make it hard to get noticed. Try to post at least two guides a day but always make sure they are high quality. Over time people will appreciate that you only post good work and you will gain followers. When these people see your work as your reputation of only posting good work grows you will find people spending more time on your site, visiting more pages and hopefully buying more of your products or achieving any of your goals.
With Twitter’s character limit it can take a while to get used to interacting with other users, but try to frequently respond to other people in your industry when they tweet. This is an efficient way of improving your relationships over twitter and gaining exposure for yourself.
Like Twitter you want to be regularly posting both good content, and tips in your posts. You want to be engaging with others as much as possible to get yourself known and build your reputation. Take advantage of any groups which are related to what you are blogging about/your industry.
Google+ has lots of ways of building an audience which interacts well with you, you can use a similar strategy to Facebook – focus on a small group of users at a time and become a recognised source of good information. You can take this all a step further by reading my guide on using Google+ circles to appear prominently on Google’s search results. Don’t stretch yourself to far to fast.
You may think that aiming to a circle with 3000 people in is a great idea, or posting in 20 groups, but you need to build your reputation up in each group one at a time. Also the smaller the circles you post in the more likely people are to see your posts on their timeline, so build up slowly. With G+ you can even notify people in small groups that you have posted whether they follow you or not.
Forums are a great way of building your audience. Most forums keep track of how many posts you make, it is better to focus on one forum at a time so you can become an influencer within this forums. Then if you move on to another similarly themed forum chances are your reputation will travel over if members overlap.
It sounds obvious but be careful not to spam – forums can be a brilliant way of building your reputation on-line and a great source of traffic. Unfortunately some forums have immature kids who build their reputation by belittling people. Just don’t rise to them.
The more platforms which you post on the better. Just take things slow and focussed on the people you are engaging with. The stronger relationships you build the more people will help you out, but it is a two way thing.
It is much easier to become an influencer on a forum with 10,000 members than it is on a whole social network. When you find yourself becoming an influencer on one forum see how many of it’s members you can get to follow you on social media. These people will likely be very good engagers.
Give as good as you get, if somebody does you a favour make sure you return it. If you are generous with social sharing other people will respond in kind. Over time the larger and better engaged your social media audience the more repeat visitors you get, the longer they spend on each page and the better the feedback they give you will be (sometimes in the form of shares or building links to your work).
With all the social platforms you use you want to give value to the user. They follow you for a reason, if you just post links to your work they may as well just bookmark your website.
Go into more detail, start a discussion. On some platforms you can post a large amount of text so releasing unique content to only one social media platform is a great way of picking up followers who pay attention to what you are writing.
How does social engagement help SEO?
There are two sides to this question. First there is the long-standing debate over whether social signals are directly used in Google’s algorithm (yes I know I have linked to this same article repeatedly, I’d say it’s one of my best). If you feel like a long read I have laid all the sources out so you can make a decision yourself. If you don’t have time to read it, direct or indirect it doesn’t matter. The end result is the same.
Many studies have found that social media has a strongly positive impact on SEO, don’t worry about why as increasing engagement will help, if social is a direct SEO metric great! If it is an indirect metric increasing engagement will make you reach a wider audience which gives more chance for links being built.
On the other side of the debate is whether the positive effect of having a good relationship with your audience causes them to engage for longer with your website and directly affects SEO.
Bounce rate as a ranking factor is just as contested as social signals, as is time on site. If you feel like an even longer read I have sifted through large amounts of data to try and work out just what we know about SEO so you can make your own decision.
Ignoring all that one of the biggest advantages for having a good reputation is that when people build links to you they will trust you enough to leave off the nofollow attribute
When it all goes wrong
On the high street if you receive poor service chances are you won’t just not return to the shop – if it is particularly bad you will tell all your friends, family, colleagues etc. how bad it was. Your friends might tell some of their friends if you got a major disservice, this is the viral model played out in real life.
A poor user experience can do exactly the same online, but in this world wide web a bad experience can cause MASSIVE social media headaches. Traffic plummets, sales die and your average review rating takes a hit.
People (generally) understand that mistakes happen so if you ever do get a complain over social media, or even worse a poor review, make sure you don’t get angry.
Take ownership and fix the problem to the best of your ability. One thing I have learned from various jobs is just asking “how can I make this right for you?” is the best way of halting an angry customer.
You can turn a negative review into a positive by showing the world how well you dealt with your mistake. It is also worth Googling yourself now and then to check that people aren’t slandering you on any forums. It has always baffled me why people complain everywhere but to the party they feel that wronged them, but some people do.
You can’t always make everybody happy all the time. Their expectations may be to high and you may have to come to a compromise but if a user is visibly not happy with your service you need to visibly come to a fair solution.
If you are successful in doing that then you will probably gain as much business as you lost from the negative feedback. Unless you are paying people – on Fiverr for example – to review you it is unlikely that you will have 100% customer satisfaction. Most people know this and find mixed but positive reviews more reliable than all 5*.
No product or service is perfect, it is good to know potential faults or problems in advance and be able to see what happens when it all goes wrong – a business is only as good as it’s complaint handling.
If you have read this whole article I hope you have formed your own opinion on whether this kind of complaint handling/offsite user experience has a direct effect on SEO. That is a question that can’t be answered by anyone who isn’t high up in Google. Regardless it is so important not to bury your head in the sand when it all goes wrong.
Useful Plugins to Improve Engagement
Some design features are known to improve engagement on site. Certainly the more prominent you can make your email subscription list the better. Other plugins can improve your website’s speed which helps with SEO both directly and indirectly.
There are lots of creative ways of using social media on site as well, from listing your latest posts, tweetboxs to share a paragraph of text you can even make content only available with a social share.
Before you add a feature think about whether it will benefit all your users. Some plugins in some situations can damage user experience and just aren’t worth it.
Nearly all plugins slow your site down as well. One or two unnecessary ones probably won’t be noticeable but too many will make your site sluggish which is one of the worst things you can do for your sites engageability.
I use wordpress, but most of these plugins are available for other CMS. I will try and explain what all these plugins do so if you don’t use wordpress this section will still benefit you so you can try and find an alternative if you don’t use wordpress and one of these plugins aren’t available.
SumoMe list builder
SumoMe has a free list building popup to encourage subscribers. It’s really good. This was the exception to the no popup rule I wrote earlier. The popups in the free version are fairly customisable and really help you build your email subscribers list.
You can then use these lists to recirculate older content, build a more personalised relationship with your users and encourage their signup to your social media. Over time you can send special offers to your email list and increase your own or affiliate sales to monetise your blog or website.
Remember that the more you engage with your users the more they will engage with you, so you really want to get people on your email subscribers list and make good use of them by giving them value beyond saying “I have a new post please read it guys”.
SumoMe is very uninvasive. You can control how often the popup appears to repeat visitors – I currently use once a month. If you’d like to sign up to my email list you can on the top right-hand corner of my sidebar :).
Mail-chimp stores email lists, as well as having a plugin which puts an email subscription box on your sidebar. Mailchimp is completely free and you need it to use SumoMe.
A great advantage of having Mailchimp installed is that when people leave you a comment by default they are added to your mailing subscribers unless they opt out (if you use WordPress).
Social sharing buttons
There are MANY MANY providers of social sharing buttons, so I will keep this fairly short.
I use Sharaholic because they have support for all the social networks I use, and more. These do what they say on the tin – if a user reads your post and likes it with one button click they can share it to their audience. Who knows it may even go viral. I use Sharaholic particularly because I like the call to action (see below) but there’s a huge amount of choice out there.
Sharaholic also allows you to set up a page encouraging the sharer to follow you on social media after they have shared your work.
Caching is important. It saves a (often compacted) version of your website to your server which can be served quickly to users. Good caching programs let you set how often you want the cache to update, and what events you want to reset your cache (like a post).
Again there’s a lot of choice out there. I suggest getting a caching plugin which minifies your code – Google pagespeed insights approves of this practice, and page speed is an important part of user experience. I use WP fastest cache – it is as fast as any other I have used, and easy to setup. Do a bit of searching for alternatives if you don’t use word press.
Reduce bounce rate (WP only)
I stumbled upon this little gem which allows you to see your real bounce rate and time on site. Currently Google counts anybody who visits one page of your site and then leaves as a bounce on Google analytics, even if they spend ten minutes reading a page this still registers as a bounce.
With this plugin you get a clearer idea of the time people spend on your site and what your real bounce rate is. It is unlikely this has any benefit to SEO but it makes your analytics more accurate and allows you to have a clearer idea of how you are progressing at improving your audience engagement.
Click to tweet
This makes social sharing REALLY simple.
A great new way of signing up to websites is using social media. A lot of websites allow you to login with Facebook, Twitter or G+. Only one button click is required so allowing social login can drastically increase your signups.
You can get data you may wish to collect from people’s social media accounts (eg. Name and Email for an email subscription list). What could be more convenient?
As mention is a paid service I would like to stress that I am not at all affiliated with them. You can sign up for a free trial and set up alerts so you can see if anybody is talking about you or your blogs on social media. It’s useful because you can send friend requests to people talking about you, or just generally engage with people who have shown an interest in your work.
It’s fairly useful for building a reputation of responding quickly to queries about your site and can positively effect your social following.
These are just some generic factors which should help improve your websites engageability. You know your audience better than anybody else so to truly give them the best user experience possible you need to think about what you can do to make your website unique.
In order to stand out you need to do what you are doing well. Everything should be focused on making information easily findable. Whether increasing user engagement on your website is directly useful for SEO can be debated, but by building your reputation as being good at what you do through social media will increase sales or help you achieve any goals which you might have in place.
This guide shows the overlap between social media and SEO nicely. This isn’t a traditional SEO guide at the moment. There are still some tricks which can be done to improve SEO at the expense of user experience. I feel the time has come for these methods.
People forget that they want business, or a following. You don’t want to get to the top of Google. You want sales or to achieve whatever the reason of making your website want.
Some SEO is essentially selling your soul (content) to the devil (Google in this analogy not that they’re evil) in order to get traffic through over optimisation.
It is much better to have 10 well engaged users than 10,000 users who don’t bother reading what you write and bounce from your site.
Please if you have anything to add to any of these lists – specially the plugins as there are so many out there – leave me a comment.
If you liked this you may also like:
SEO strategy in 2015 for beginners and advanced – A FreEbook with 10 chapters taking beginners to an advanced understanding of Google.
How helping others can help your business grow – just a short guide on how helping others on social media can help with your SEO.
What is social networking and how can it help me – more in depth guide on the social media side of things.