For Good SEO, Give Your Visitors What They Want [Checklist]

People often feel overwhelmed and confused about SEO (search engine optimization). They think it's so complicated and scientific that they'd never be able to understand it. Although there are parts of SEO that are technical and sophisticated, the general idea is simple:

Google wants your website to give searchers what they want.

Google's Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide says,

You should optimize your site to serve your users' needs. One of those users is a search engine, which helps other users discover your content.

So, don't get distracted by trying to peer into Google's algorithms. Instead, ask yourself, "What do my website visitors want?" If you ask that question each time you face a decision about your website, you'll be on the right track.

Now, you shouldn't think of some generic, faceless "visitor." Nor do you want to think of your own preferences. You need to think of the visitors that you want to attract: your target market; your prospects). Remember, your website is for your customers, not for you. You should have a clear picture of your ideal client/customer, and their preferences. Such a picture is often called a persona or avatar by marketers.

The rest of this post is a list of several items to consider when evaluating your website, with general website visitor preferences. As you read the list, take it a step further and think of the preferences of your particular ideal clients and customers.

What Do People Want in a Website?

1. Valuable, Quality Content

People come to your website for its content (text, images, audio, video, etc.), not its design, and usually not its functionality. This is an instance where it's critical to understand your ideal client/customer. You need to get in their head and know what content will be relevant and valuable to them. Content can be valuable to a person for several reasons:

  • Educational, informative
  • Motivational, inspirational
  • Entertaining, humorous

Google's Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide says one of the questions you should ask yourself is, "Do I serve high-quality content to users?"

Google's guide also says,

Make your site interesting and useful. Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors discussed here. Users know good content when they see it and will likely want to direct other users to it. … Organic or word-of-mouth buzz is what helps build your site's reputation with both users and Google, and it rarely comes without quality content.

2. Easy-to-Consume Content

Have you ever given up on a webpage before you finished it? I'm sure you have. Why? Maybe it was an intimidating wall of unbroken text. Maybe the font was so small, ugly, or poorly colored that it was painful to read. Maybe the video player was garbage.

Make your content a pleasure to consume (or at least not a pain to consume). Turn blocks of text into easily digested pieces, with visual tools (headings, bullets, numbered lists, bold, italics, etc.). Ensure audio controls are easy to use. Make sure video controls work smoothly.

Google's Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide says one of the reasons a site may not rank well in Google is "The design of the site makes it difficult for Google to crawl its content effectively."

3. Usable

Usability is a broad topic that refers to how easy a website is to use. It seems obvious that a website should be usable, but not all businesses put a lot of thought into how their visitors will use their website. They're often distracted by making the logo bigger, or making the design "pop," regardless of whether those help or hurt the usability of the website.

Constantly ask yourself if the changes you want to make to your website will make it more usable, or less. And think not just of a generic human, but of your ideal client/customer. Some aspects to consider about them:

  • How old are they?
  • How dexterous are they?
  • How educated are they?
  • In what environment are they using the website (outside in bright sunlight, in a dark cubicle, etc.)?
  • What device are they using (smart watch, phone, tablet, computer, smart TV, etc.?)

Google's Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide says one of the reasons a site may not rank well in Google is "The design of the site makes it difficult for Google to crawl its content effectively."

4. Fast

I don't have to tell you that people want websites that run like cheetahs, not sloths. SEO company Moz says about speed,

Page speed is also important to user experience. Pages with a longer load time tend to have higher bounce rates and lower average time on page. Longer load times have also been shown to negatively affect conversions.

Google's Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide says one of the questions you should ask yourself is, "Is my content fast and easy to access on all devices?"

People using mobile devices are especially impatient, which is why starting in July 2018, Google will make page speed a ranking factor for mobile searches.

Quality hosting and proper maintenance will help your site load swiftly.

5. Secure

I don't have to tell you that security is high on the mind of Web users, after WannaCry and other ransomware, the Equifax breach, and daily security scares. People want to know two things:

  1. That the sensitive information they send to, and receive from, your website is protected.
  2. That your website won't infect their device (computer, tablet, or phone) with malware.

The first reason has caused people to check if their connection to a website is secured by SSL/TLS. It's also what's causing Google to pressure websites to enable SSL/TLS.

Security company WordFence found that "45% saw search traffic impacted by a hack and 9% saw a traffic drop of over 75%."

Google's Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide says one of the questions you should ask yourself is, "Is my website secure?"

This is another aspect where quality hosting and proper maintenance are essential.

6. Mobile-Friendly

Over 55% of Web traffic comes from mobile (phones and tablets, maybe smart watches and other mobile devices), according to Stone Temple Consulting. And over 50% of Google searches come from mobile.

Let those numbers sink in.

Do I need to explain further why you need a mobile-friendly site now?

Google's Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide says,

The world is mobile today. Most people are searching on Google using a mobile device. The desktop version of a site might be difficult to view and use on a mobile device. As a result, having a mobile ready site is critical to your online presence. In fact, starting in late 2016, Google has begun experiments to primarily use the mobile version of a site's content for ranking, parsing structured data, and generating snippets.

7. Clear Navigation

One of my frustrations is hiking trails that are poorly marked, trying to reference maps that have about as much detail as the ones my 4-year-old draws in crayon. It's extremely frustrating to try to find your way around with bad navigation!

The same is true of a website. People want to be able to get to their destination quickly. Make sure all navigation is easy to find, read, and use. Navigation includes not only your main navigation menu, but also any of the following:

  • Navigation menu in the header (top of the site)
  • Navigation menu in the footer (bottom of the site)
  • Navigation menu in sidebar
  • Pagination (previous and next links, or numbered links)
  • Tables of contents on pages
  • Jump links (anchor links) on pages
  • Sections within a FAQ or Resources portion of the site
  • Blog categories and tags

Google's Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide says,

The navigation of a website is important in helping visitors quickly find the content they want. It can also help search engines understand what content the webmaster thinks is important.

8. Clean Design

People don't come to your website to gawk at its eye candy design. They come for the content. But, the design of your site can help or hinder their efforts to consume the site's content. Your site's design should shine a spotlight on the content, making it easy to find and consume.

Google's Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide says one of the reasons a site may not rank well in Google is "The design of the site makes it difficult for Google to crawl its content effectively."

9. Available (Online)

This one's a no-brainer. Do you think your visitors want your website to be online (up), or offline (down)? Do what you can to keep your site from going down, and if it does go down, to get it back up as soon as possible.

Solid hosting is the best way to handle this. Make sure you (or your web maintenance company) get uptime alerts when your site goes down, so you can leap into action getting it back online.

10. Not Covered in Ads

Don't you just love it when you open a webpage that's littered with so many ads you can't tell where to look? Oh, you don't? How about auto-playing video or audio that blasts through your speakers? Not a fan of that either?

Make sure any ads placed on your site don't detract from the content and overall experience that people come to the site for, or visitors may seek out a less ad-riddled site.

Google Wants What Humans Want

Search Engine Land, a reputable SEO resource, has a helpful Periodic Table Of SEO Success Factors. If you look through it, you'll notice that the items above, which are items humans want, correspond to SEO ranking factors. That shouldn't surprise you, because Google rewards you when your website gives humans what they want.

Does Your Website Give Visitors What They Want?

Can you think of other items that should be on the list? Let us know in the comments!

Now that you've read through the list, keep this page open in one tab, and open your website in another tab. Go through the list again, and evaluate your website as you go. Here's the list again, in checklist form:

  1. Valuable, Quality Content
  2. Easy-to-Consume Content
  3. Usable
  4. Fast
  5. Secure
  6. Mobile-Friendly
  7. Clear Navigation
  8. Clean Design
  9. Available (Online)
  10. Not Covered in Ads

What are you doing well? What's lacking? If you're like most businesses, you'll find that your site doesn't score 100%. Don't worry! We can help you fill in the gaps, for the sake of your website visitors and your search engine rankings. Contact us for help improving your website and SEO.

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2 comments on “For Good SEO, Give Your Visitors What They Want [Checklist]”

  1. That's 100% true all this 10 factors are mentioned in above article are very much important while doing seo
    very explanatory article ....
    thanks Chad for sharing such amazing information

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