Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can feel like a painfully abstract chore for business owners – a coded game that you pay a tech wizard to win on your behalf – but it’s related more to basic business values than you might think.

Over time, search engines have become very good at understanding what people actually want from websites. They understand it by observing and charting the interactions between users and websites.

In other words: if your website is a place that people enjoy spending time, it will be a place that search engines recommend more frequently. In that sense, optimizing your website for SEO is very similar to setting up the best possible brick and mortar shop.

This quality is often described as User Experience (UX). There are lots of little tweaks you can make to optimize UX on your site, same as you would a store. And just as every store benefits from a friendly employee to welcome all visitors and answer questions, websites benefit from live chat.

What is User Experience (UX)?

UX pertains to how people feel about when they’re on your website. Scientists can (and do) get really deep on UX and interface theory, particularly as it intersects with cognitive science and digital interface design.

But here’s a shorthand version: if you can create a good user experience, people will spend more time on your website. Search engines notice when people spend significant time (or don’t) on your website. They do so with metrics like these:

  • Bounce rate
    What percentage of visitors visit your site and don’t take another action before leaving – the equivalent of a customer window shopping and quickly deciding this store isn’t for them.
  • Time on page
    How long someone spends on an individual page once they get there. A high average for time spent on a page can be one good indicator of valuable content.

Qualities of Strong UX

Broadly speaking, you want your website to affect visitors in the same way that your actual business does – projecting competence, thoughtfulness, and competitive edge. 

Content

A sense of value comes from relevant content that satisfies the questions your users have. For example, if someone searches ‘house sale listings in my area’ and clicks on your realty website, those listings should be readily available and up-to-date.

Web Design

Ease of navigation and interaction will keep people engaged. Do the pages load quickly? Is it easy to find the most important pages? Are the support resources for visitors struggling with any step of the process?

How Live Chat Improves UX

So, to review: improved UX will amplify your search engine rankings (and probably your sales in the meantime). And you can enhance your UX by creating a website that answers people’s questions, keeps them happily exploring, and possibly even providing you with contact info so you can convert them farther down the sales funnel.

Live chat is a powerful tool at your disposal to address all of those concerns at once.

How does live chat optimize your site’s UX? Here are some values…

Responsive

People’s customer service expectations keep rising and they want it now. A Salesforce survey found that 64% of customers and 80% of business buyers expect questions answered in real time. And nearly 3/4 of shoppers will switch brands if they don’t receive consistent service.

For web visitors, live chat offers the most immediate mode of response. Visitors don’t even have to pick up the phone. Instead of waiting for a visitor to reach out with a question, effective live chat systems introduce themselves as soon as a visitor arrives.

When I landed on the Ruby homepage today, for example, I was greeted by a little live chat box where an assistant offered guidance. I knew where I was going, but kept the minimized chat box in the corner, just in case.

Useful

Your website should gently lead visitors to the information they want. But no matter how perfectly you create content and design the site, people will have unique questions and access needs. There’s no substitute for live customer service in those situations.

A live chat assistant trained in industry terms and customer concerns can direct people to the info they need. They can answer questions directly and, in case they don’t have an answer right away, they can follow-up later on with it.

Access is also a tech issue – people are visiting through various desktops, tablets, and smartphones. According to Google, 79% of users are more likely to revisit a mobile-friendly site. The live chat tools you choose should be adaptable to these platforms.

Engaging

Live chat agents not only ask questions – they ask follow-up questions. It keeps people paying attention (and increases the time they spend on your site). It’s also a fantastic way to understand what people are looking for when they come to your site. If numerous people ask the same question to live chat, such as ‘where is your pricing page?’ then it’s probably time to rethink the placement of your pricing page. 

Live chat dialogue is also an effective (and accessible) way to capture contact info for lead acquisition. It does the work of a lead capture survey without putting the onus on the customer. When done well, it can also include all sorts of nuanced data that provides your sales team with extra personal touches for outreach.

Classic Customer Engagement In The Digital World

Focusing on User Experience can be one of the best tactics for boosting any business’s search engine rankings. When visitors spend more time on your site than your competitor’s site, Google and other engines take notice.

There’s really no faking those UX metrics, but you can improve the quality of UX by focusing on fundamentals: content, design, and customer support.

Effective customer support can keep visitors happy despite any complications they may have on your site, and live chat provides responsive, engaging, valuable support to visitors 24/7/365.

Interested in learning more about live chat? Download our guide, The Rise of Website Chat to get the full scoop!

Josh Orr is part of the team at Ercule, a content and SEO performance agency in Portland, OR.

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Three Common Pitfalls For SEO

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Almost every business wants to rank first in Google for their product niche – not only is it satisfying to win the Google ranking game, but it’s also often the path to greater revenue.

That ranking game, for many of our clients, feels mysterious and daunting. Many of them have been playing the game based on gut instinct and guesswork for a long time, and are exhausted.

Among frustrated business owners whose search status seems to stagnate, we’ve noticed some common mistakes. Here are some major ones, along with solutions that you can implement with your team.

Pitfall #1: Flimsy Content

If you’ve got a stack of blog posts that no one is reading, ask yourself: who is your audience? What interests and concerns them? And how can my blogs satisfy those interests and concerns?

Strong content covers relevant topics in an accessible way and is the key to boosting your rankings in organic search.

Let’s say your company sells contract management software and you’re writing blogs like, “The Intricacies Of Our Source Code.” Cool. But: is your audience interested in the intricacies of source code? Are they coders? Or are they contractors interested in how the software saves them time and money in daily business?

What is Relevant?
Your customers’ lives, goals, and pain points will determine what is relevant. So, how on earth do you figure that out? It’s actually quite easy: use an SEO tool to find out exactly which questions people in your industry are googling. Google apps (like Search Console, Trends, and Analytics) are free, user-friendly, and invaluable. 

Once you know the questions people are asking, you can design content for relevant answers. No guesswork required, no more time spent writing ill-conceived blogs.

You can even revise old blogs to answer the questions you find in these keyword searches. “The Intricacies Of Our Source Code” can become “Saving Time and Money Through Contract Automation.” 

What is Accessible?
Making content accessible for your audience means using clear language, helpful layout, and thorough arguments. 

These are the same criteria that the search engines are looking for. Search engine A.I. has started to take cues from human readers. So if you’ve written something that’s useful and readable for your audiences, you’re on your way to winning over search engines as well.

To really charm the search engines, make each post at least 300 words long (ideally 600 – 2000 words) and format it with proper headings and subheadings to help users easily navigate the page.

Pitfall #2: Waiting To Be Found

If you don’t toot your own horn a little bit, people may never discover these fabulous resources you’ve created for them.

Once you’ve written content that is excellent and useful and readable, it’s time to let the world know. The more people engage with your site, link to your posts on their own blogs, and share with friends, the quicker you’re going to improve your rank in search engines.

Social Posts
Let your followers know when a new post is up. Share older posts with your network any time that they seem relevant to the online discussion. Don’t be shy! You designed this content to benefit people’s lives, and you never know when a piece will make somebody’s day.

Targeted Ads
Instead of optimizing your web presence and waiting to be found, a targeted ad service will put you in front of people who are likely to appreciate you. So long as you can identify your target audience with precision, ads are money well spent. Ad platforms have made this task increasingly easy and effective.

Newsletters
The ROI for email marketing can be wild. Numerous studies have found it to be around a $38 return for every $1 spent. Newsletters usually go out to contacts whose info you’ve collected first-hand – warm leads, recent visitors to your site, current and former clients. You know they’re interested in what you do, so this is a great space to show off your latest content.

Pitfall #3: Clunky Websites

It takes all of this work just to get people to click on your links and visit your site. Once they finally arrive, don’t give them a reason to turn and leave. This is where site design and User Experience (UX) are essential.

Google takes note of how much time people spend on your site, especially newcomers. So check your website analytics. Are visitors leaving your site without interacting or reading beyond the page they came in on? This issue is commonly known as “bouncing”. If your bounce rate is high, you’ve may have some UX issues to fix. Here are major areas to consider.

Speed
The goal is for the page load to feel instant for your visitors. If it’s 1 second or less, you’re doing great. Once you get past the 3-second range, you’re in dangerous risk of losing people before they even learn what your site has to offer.

Design
Aesthetics are, of course, relative. Still, white space is always your friend when it comes to web design. We generally encourage people to use simple, spacious design – it’s easier for visitors to navigate. And, of course, make sure that newcomers can get to your best content from the landing page in as few steps as possible.

Mobile Optimization
Nearly half of all of the total U.S. commerce market will be conducted with mobile devices this year. If your site isn’t optimized for mobile use, you’re losing sales. When building, refining, and updating your site, assume that your audience is visiting via phones and tablets.  

Customer Support
No matter how brilliantly designed and optimized your site is, visitors will always have questions unique to their needs. Responsiveness is key to UX. And these days, customers are very willing to take their business elsewhere if they don’t receive the personalized service they desire. Livechat support converts sales by guiding customers through any unforeseen pain points in the sales process.

Our friends at Ruby happen to do live chat support in a fabulous way.

Steps Toward SEO Success

Optimizing your presence for search engine ranking requires attention to diverse avenues of the internet, but at its core the mission is simple: you’re trying to create valuable products and services for people and you’re trying to let them see how your business might improve their lives. 

You might have dabbled with SEO analytics tools already and found it frustrating. This is completely normal – the learning curve at first can feel really tough. But, much like learning a language, with time and experience and immersion, you can get the hang of it.

Of course, some elements of UX require outside support. A web designer can do for your site in one day what might take you several weeks to learn on your own. And when visitors to your website have questions that need to be answered immediately – say, 10pm on a Friday night – Ruby’s live receptionists and chat support are available to keep potential customers engaged.

Josh Orr is part of the team at Ercule, a content and SEO performance agency in Portland, OR.

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