January 24, 2017
Effective Web Experiences Pt. 4: Optimization

This week we continue our discussion on building effective web experiences by looking at how you can optimize your website to improve engagement and conversion. We'll look at two types of optimization: SEO and Content.

Let's start with SEO.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

"The Internet is becoming increasingly competitive, and those companies who perform SEO will have a decided advantage in visitors and customers." - Moz

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing or enhancing, your website content or design to improve its search engine ranking.  Your goal is to increase the volume of traffic to your website. Not just any traffic, but traffic from potential customers. SEO can help you increase the relevancy of your content to your defined audience and along with your website's authority ranking, improve overall listing in search engines such as Google and Bing.

Four factors determine SEO rank: 

  • How many different external sites or pages link to your web page.
  • Your website's authority, including age, the authority of linking pages and whether it's a top-level domain.
  • The location of the web page within your website and how easily it can be indexed.
  • Relevancy, which comes from the content and its metadata, but also from the relevancy of linking pages. 

Your web content management system is designed to help with SEO. It provides a number of capabilities such as metadata creation and customization for web pages and content, as well as technical capabilities like search engine friendly URLs, valid XHTML and CSS, and more.  

Key Steps, Tips, and Best Practices

  • Create useful, informative content. The most important way to improve your rank is to create great content that your audience wants to read. If your content isn't useful, then it won't matter how well it's technically optimized, it won't achieve a high rank.
  • Do your keyword research. While it's important to know the most used keywords for your topic and weave them into your content and metadata, it's also helpful to look at long-tail keywords that aren't as popular but can often better reflect the content your audience wants. 
  • A well-defined information architecture should bring the most important content to the top, leverage top keywords and be easy to navigate, by both visitors and search engine spiders.
  • Enforce the use of metadata; both system-generated and manually entered. Metadata for content, as well as web pages, help search engines understand the content quickly and easily.
  • Social Media integration. Providing the ability to promote your content on social media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram helps improve the popularity of your content.
  • Ensure your Web CMS can provide the following capabilities:
    • Search engine friendly URLs and 301 redirects
    • Metadata tag customization
    • Title Tag Customization
    • XML Site Maps and the ability to customize index rules for specific pages
    • Metadata for images, videos, and other digital assets
    • Index, Follow,No-Follow commands Broken links checker 

Some Useful Links:

  1. Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide
  2. Moz Beginner Guide to Search Engine Optimization
  3. The Ultimate SEO Authority Guide 2016

Content Optimization 

Content optimization is another important function. One element of optimization your content is for SEO, and we discussed that above, but there's more to content optimization than good SEO.

Creating quality content is a key part of optimization. Quality starts with good grammar and spelling, looks at appropriate length, and ends with readability and focus. If it takes too long to read your content, if the structure of the content is all over the place, or the focus is on too many ideas, customers won't read it. 

Also, you want your content to be engaging and informative, even objective, depending on where you publish it. Writing blog posts? Build authority by providing research and objective perspectives? Writing product content? Show trust by offering case studies that demonstrate how the product works for actual customers. 

Also, think about the mobile experience. A smaller form factor, a different context (on the go, busy, quick reads) require you to structure your content differently. Here is a key place you can understand the value of structured, reusable content.

Finally, as you monitor and measure the performance of your website, examine the content closely. Pages with high bounce rates and low time spent on the page indicate a potential problem with your content. If you offer video, look at where the drop off rates are in viewing time and if the CTA is clicked. Analytics can tell you a lot about how you need to improve, remove or add new content. 

Next time we'll take a look at AB Testing and  CRO optimization - critical aspects of improving web experiences. Until then, feel free to check out the Ingeniux paper: The Third Wave of Content Management to learn how web content management has evolved to support digital experiences across all channels.

Posted by David Hillis
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