How to develop a user-first SEO strategy

By: Daniel Carter

Date: 28 March 2019

A website visitor looks tired and angry as she can't find what she needs in Google's search results.Google's search results might be based on an impersonal algorithm - but the company's aim is to produce the most personalized service possible. In other words, while rankings depend on a complicated set of calculations going on in the background, the ultimate goal is to provide the best search results for users.

This is something that is often forgotten by those who work in SEO. In the midst of trying to amass as many backlinks as possible, and making their site technically sound, it can become easy to develop tunnel vision as to what's really important.

Placing yourself in the shoes of a user can help you think about your search engine optimization efforts a little differently. This is a technique that established SEO agencies have used to great effect.

Here we mull over a few issues to help you develop a user-first SEO approach.

Putting yourself in the position of a user

When optimising your website for search in the past, you may have concentrated your efforts on what Google thinks of the technical aspects of your site. It's true that this still needs to happen to an extent.

However, there are times when you need to just sit back and consider whether the way your site is engineered suits the people who are trying to use it.

For example, one old approach may have been to create lots of content pages about very similar topics, to boost overall page numbers. This doesn't address user needs - you should audit whether there is a valid reason for each page on your website.

If you have too many similar pages, they may start to cannibalize one another's traffic, and this will harm your ranking potential.

What is your bounce rate telling you?

Sometimes, you need to put your data hat on. In truth, there are umpteen statistics available in Google Analytics that can help you piece together stories about your users. Bounce rate (the number of people who arrive on your site and leave again straight away) is one user engagement metric that many believe can impact your rankings.

Google has never confirmed this, but logically it is something that would make sense. After all, if a large proportion of people hit the 'Back' button after clicking through to a particular site, it is clear that the page isn't answering the user's query.

As such, your should be sure to check your analytics data and pick out the pages with a high bounce rate to review and rework.

What about Search Console?

Despite being available to everyone with a website, Search Console is a tool which is grossly underused. One of the best ways to develop a user-first SEO strategy is to look through all of the queries which are being used to access your website.

If you start to see that a lot of these queries are not directly related to the page in question, it provides an excellent opportunity to develop further content that you know users are searching for.

Copyright 2019. Featured post made possible by Daniel Carter, Assertive Media

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