How Live Chat Can Improve Your Search Rankings

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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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