How to Build a Site That’s User Friendly AND Search Friendly

February 22, 2013

Getting found online is essential. But you need to take traffic through your site, not just to it.

In order to be successful online, you need to make sure your visitors are getting what they want from—and where they need to go on—your site, so you can get the conversion, and even the rankings, you’re after.

How can a user-friendly site improve your search rankings?

It’s simple. Today, as the folks over at Hubspot put it, SEO is not just about search engine optimization, it’s about search experience optimization too.

Search engines are designed to get users where they want to go—not just to a site, but to a site that takes them all the way through the process they’re looking to complete: whether that’s making a purchase, learning about a service, filling out a form, or something else entirely.

Google rewards quality sites with higher rankings, and right now, providing a high-quality user-experience is the key, not only to converting customers, but to showing Google you’re a site that’s relevant, useful, navigable, and worth a spot at the top of the search results.

Ultimately, the two work hand in hand to make a sort of complete circle. Getting found online brings traffic to your site, strategically directing that traffic by optimizing your site for a better user-experience means not only more conversion, but better rankings, and better rankings mean more traffic.

Here are some tips to help make your site user friendly and search friendly at the same time:

  • Figure out who your users are and what they’re looking for: Identifying your site visitors’ needs and expectations is the first step towards meeting them. Ask yourself what journey you’re trying to take your site visitors on. Ask who your customers are, what they want from your site, and what you need to do to help get them there.
  • Organize your information: Start by keeping the headers surrounding your Homepage the broadest and simplest and wait to whittle down to the details on pages further into the site. Your homepage should lead to the most relevant, and the most general, topics like an “About Us” page, a “Services” or “Products” page, a “Contact Us” page, and perhaps a link to your blog, if your site has one.
  • Make browsing simple with head and side bars that contain any specific pages within organized sections. Do any relevant keyword research and strive to name each section appropriately so that site visitors know where they’re going and how to get there. The flow of your site should make sense to anyone trying to navigate through it, not just to you.
  • Have accessible XML sitemaps and optimized content: Create and submit an XML Sitemap for search engines to crawl and site visitors to see. Have quality and well-organized content, with subpages in proper, organized sections. That way,  keywords should naturally fit in the sections where they’re most relevant for users, meaning, your site will always make sense, and stay valuable, to users and search engines alike.

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