Meeting Searcher’s Expectations When They Click on Your Site from a Search Query
It is not often that a search goes to a search engine, types in a keyword, previews the results page looking at the snippets about each site and makes a decision to click on one of them and then lands on the page that will give them what they are looking for. We have all experienced this in searching. Not finding what you want is very frustrating and we make the decision based upon first impressions.
Typically you have about 1.2 seconds once a searcher lands on your site page to convince them that this is where they need to be. This “first engagement” scenario, allows you to build the trust relationship between your site and the searcher. So how do we do this?
- Trust means meeting the searchers expected results of their keyword
- Users have short attention spans, and most have a preconceived expectation of what they should find, not matching that initial expectation can equate to a quick “back click.”.
- What kind of wow factor does your site’s pages present. great graphics, cool design, the perfect on page title? This makes the mind trust…
- Are there pictures, bolded text, or great initial text that meets the searchers keyword requirements
- Can they see your brand, phone number and information about their search keyword above the fold? This builds trust and your credibility.
Making an Initial (subliminal) Connection:
Are the primary headlines aligned with intent?
The first thing users notice is content structure, headlines, headers, bolded elements, graphics etc. Your 1.2 seconds of opportunity to grab attention begins with a mental assessment that needs to immediately connect with the original search query and inspire additional engagement is via clear communication of what the page is about.
Content should be created with specific intent in mind, with headlines, and/or graphic headers that are obvious, short, surrounded by adequate white space. And the content must be specific enough to inspire a user’s attention.
Concreting the Trust:
Can users perform a quick scan above the fold to answer who, what, and why?
As noted above, users don’t actually read on a first pass, they make a decision based on visual cues and click expectations (what they expect after they click).
Some websites fail in obviously reinforcing the click expectation, missing an opportunity for engagement, underscoring brand recognition, and providing obvious reasons of time-worthy value.
Click through to your site and ask the following:
- Is your brand and contact information obvious?
- Is it obvious that what you do meets their keyword search?
- Is it obvious you site is relevant and why they should stick around?
Especially important with homepages, but equally important on other SEO landing pages, is ensuring your brand is obvious. Make sure what you do, or how you plan to address the user’s intent, isn’t buried. Give users obvious information and/or justification to stick around and/or click around is key to moving people to engage further.
Remember: for instant user assessment of resolution potential, anything below the fold doesn’t exist!
Website Usability and Searcher Engagement
Is it obvious what they should do next?
99% of searchers begin reading a page from the top left down and across upon what is viewable above the fold. If all the information you have above the fold does not allow the searcher to see what his next click is but has satisfied that this page is relevant to his keyword search, the searcher will begin to scroll. It is very important that above the fold you are able to see your navigation or the beginning of the navigation. This is a signal the searcher understands as to finding his most relevant page.
Call to actions should be prevalent across the page as are bolded clickable text. Call to actions concrete in the searchers mind the hope of instant relevant information about his keyword. That can be the navigation with his keyword as a link, a search box, a or image link to your video offering which searchers love, or sections of the instant page are about his keyword with clickable links to more information.
Failure to make the next click readily apparent is suicide for your usability and the end user is frustrated, clicks out and goes back to the search page.
Driving Consistent Content for Page Rankings
Are ‘next clicks’ consistent ?
Part of great site engagement is a consistent user experience for similar queries. By monitoring user interaction on a per query basis, website owners can identify consistencies or deficiencies in matches of search intent to site content.
Duane Forrester of Bing said in January 2013:
“In the long run, the brand names secure rankings through depth of content, trust in brand, and user interaction (searchers clicking a SERP result and staying on their site because the site is trusted and answers the searchers question)”
Providing key “next clicks” – obvious steps from landing pages to conversion or core information – is a better user experience = better potential rankability.
Can they share what they’ve found?
Probably the most obvious of tips, it the provision of social sharing and social connection buttons. If landing pages provide the value users expect, will they be inspired to share, and if they are, can they?
Sharing of a page is different than a click through to your social property (i.e., Facebook page or Twitter stream), and should be a key component on most landing pages, with the caveat of audience vs. social platform.
For pages with images, is there an option to share on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter? For business text content, is LinkedIn an option? Social signals are imperative in closing the loop on user intent satisfaction, demonstrating to both users and search engines an endorsement of your content.
6. Ultimately, can users find the best page quickly?
Give your users clearly labeled and a clear navigation structure to improve consistent engagement and quick discovery of their best click.
User experience, site usability, and onsite engagement have become more important for major search engines in their assessment of a site’s “rankability”, so SEO practitioners need to ensure site pages that rank for multiple keywords have a easy and apparent path to the searchers best information page for their searched keyword as a key to SEO success. Lowering the bounce rates with either a better optimized page or moreover a better page with usability perfected for that searcher experience.