When you think of SEO, you usually think of ‘traffic’.
While SEO remains a critical component of any competent marketing mix, it can do a lot more than just drive top of the funnel traffic to your site.
In fact, when used right, SEO can also be a powerful tool for improving your customer experience.
It’s easy to see why: Google wants to deliver the best possible user-experience to its users. Sites that focus on CX and UX tend to edge out others in rankings.
In this article, I’ll show you 4 ways you can use SEO to improve your customer experience.
1. Help customers find what they need
Your customers will often turn to search engines to figure out how to use your products and solve product problems. By creating content that addresses such concerns, you can turn SEO into a powerful customer service tactic.
Consider an example: when a user searches for “how to change payment method in Adobe?”, the first result she will see is a help page from Adobe.
This page effectively solves a common customer problem, bypassing conventional support channels (phone, email) altogether. Because of strong SEO, this page also ranks at the top of SERPs in Google’s “featured snippet” box.
Consider mapping out the customer journey and identifying potential issues and concerns in each stage. Next, create relevant content for each stage focused on answering customer queries.
- Discovery stage: Highlight product features, benefits, and case studies.
- Consideration stage: Focus on product comparisons, in-depth whitepapers, product guides, and testimonials.
- Decision stage: Focus on pricing pages, reviews, buying guides and deals.
- Service stage: Highlight FAQs, support pages, user guides, etc.
By creating and optimizing content for each stage in the journey, you’ll vastly improve customer experience.
2. Use interlinking to improve content discoverability
Internal link building remains a cornerstone of good on-page SEO. This involves building links to pages on your own site to help search engines prioritize and crawl your pages. Google considers pages with a lot of internal links as ‘more important’.
However, you can also use interlinking to help customers find your less popular content.
For example, a user reading a blog about “CRO tactics” on your page might not discover your page on “CRO copywriting” on her own.
But if you link to this page within your article, you directly help them find additional content which they may find useful (improve their experience).
Consider these ‘You might also like’ links at the bottom of each article on CustomerThink:
Such internal links do two things:
They help you guide the customer experience. By using strategically placed internal links, you can craft a ‘narrative’ and map out the customer journey.
They improve engagement metrics. You will see lower bounce rate, more pageviews and longer ‘time on site’. This can have a positive SEO impact.
It’s important that your internal links don’t seem forced. They must lead into a related article, not go off on a tangent. While you want the SEO benefits from internal links, you also want to focus on the customer experience.
3. Improve site speed
Your site’s speed matters. Google has been using site speed as a ranking factor since 2010. As per a more recent update, Google will also start factoring in mobile site speed to determine mobile search rankings.
In fact, we can visualize the impact of site speed and rank on SERPs.
However, a faster site doesn’t only have SEO benefits; it also has a marked impact on CX, UX and engagement levels.
For instance, when redesigning their site, The Financial Times found that a 1-second delay led to a 5% drop in readership. Another Google survey found that slow loading websites are the leading cause of frustration amongst users online.
Which is to say: if you want to win at SEO, you have to improve site speed. And by improving site speed, you will also see better customer experience.
Some strategies you can use to improve load time include compressing your page (and images), reducing the number of plugins and hosting your site on a dedicated server.
The ideal site load time (according to Google) is 500 milliseconds.
4. Focus on mobile friendliness
People are migrating away from desktop towards mobile at a record rate. This shift in behavior is changing how they interact with the web.
In 2016, more than half of all search queries handled by Google came from mobile devices. In November last year, mobile web usage officially eclipsed desktop web usage.
Google considers mobile traffic to be so important that it uses mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor. The recent “mobilegeddon” update specifically targeted sites that did not render well on mobile screens.
The data is clear: in 2017, good SEO equals mobile-friendliness.
A mobile-friendly site avoids minimal scrolling (especially horizontal), loads fast, and avoids flash elements (most mobile browsers don’t support it natively).
When combined, these factors play an important role in providing a stellar mobile-experience that positively impacts CX, especially on mobile devices. If users can’t navigate your site on tablets/mobiles, or have to scroll endlessly to find what they need, they will abandon it.
An easy way to make your site mobile-friendly is to use responsive design. Doing this will ensure that your site conforms to any screen size or device no matter which device is used to access it (smartphone, tablet, or desktop).
If you’re still focusing your SEO efforts on only building backlinks and adding keyword-stuffed content, you need to rethink your SEO strategy. When used right, SEO can turn into a compelling customer acquisition and service tool.
SEO and CX have a direct correlation. Any step you take to improve SEO – create helpful content, improve site speed, make your website more mobile friendly – will have a positive impact on your customer experience.