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Webmaster Blog

October
04

SEO has a future - just be ready to learn

We were at SMX East today, speaking on a panel with some really smart minds on the future of SEO.  In that discussion, many ideas where brought forward.  Let's take a look at a few of them here.

Learning new things is nothing, er…new, to SEOs.  It’s a fact of life for any SEO.  But have you started to dig into the areas that are going to matter?  Have you started working on things today, to set yourself up for success in the future?

Responsive design

With the advent of tablets and smart devices, it’s critical you understand how your site appears across those experiences.  It’s also important to set up your company to succeed long-term.  Responsive design can help your site appear as expected across devices, which means a cohesive user experience.  This can make or break how users think of your site and how they interact with your content.  That can further impact how they share you socially and whether they recommend you to others.

Today, many sites sense if the visitor is on a mobile device and pivot to the m. version of the site.  Trouble is, many of those experiences sacrifice showing some content for a sleeker design.  This can kill your credibility with visitors.

On the technical side, it can lead to duplicate URL issues over time, so you want to make sure you account for this when it comes time to redesign your site.  We’ve talked about moving to responsive design before.

Markup

This represents a chance to inform crawlers about your content in a structured manner.  It’s great for calling out specific things (the list is broad) to ensure that we, the engines, understand what the object is and what it’s related to.

Marking up your content not only helps us understand the content better, but it also helps you in the SERPs.  As rich features become more commonplace in the search results, it’s this marked up content that will be included.  Recipes are a great example of this.  By including items like ratings on a recipe, or fat and calorie counts, the result is a much richer experience for searchers, and depending on what they want (a lot fat recipe), the results are much more relevant.

This does take work to implement, so start planning now to integrate this in your next redesign.  A good starting point is www.schema.org, but the reality is any language is acceptable and we can work with all of them.  No need to retrofit if you’ve already started down this path.

User Experience & Social

If you haven’t invested in usability testing, it’s worth it.  Usability testing can be eye opening.  It can help you see your site, content, navigational structure, etc. in an entirely new light.  At the very least it’ll get you out of your head and into the heads of the people who interact with your site every day: your visitors and customers.  It’s almost guaranteed that as you watch people go through the testing on your site, you’ll be surprised by how they interact with the site.

Simple things like words used in your navigation labeling can have a big impact in perception and click actions on your site.  Colors, sizes of buttons, etc. can all have an impact.  And this impact extends from how they interact with the site through how they think about the site.  That perception can shape a visitor’s actions socially, which can impact search for you.

There’s a lot to be considered as we move from the present into the future.  SEO as we used to know it will continue to encompass new areas of focus.  If you think there are other items to add to this list, post ‘em up below!

Comments

  • Completely agree with the fact that you need to understand how your site looks throughout multiple devices - tablets, smart devices, small monitors, large monitors, etc. We make sure to test all of our BETA sites on a wide range of devices as it is important that it looks the same throughout.

     

  • Agree 100% we just went through a huge redesign and social/speed/mobile was our top 3 priorities. Took about 6 months so far and we have about another month of tweaking to perfection!

  • We have come across a question that maybe someone can help us with. We have recently been checking our bounce rates and seem pretty decent around 40-50%... our site provides information on specific products so users usually find what they are looking for and bounce to get the real deal after reading about it. Our question though is that we have come across several sites that once you click on them from the Bing/Yahoo search and the site loads the site is not allowing users to go back to the Bing's search results (using browser back button) We believe that it is a java script of some sort. Is this frowned upon or should we also consider doing this as bounce rates would go to probably none?

    What do you guys all think?

  • @celebbiz - so you want to create a poorer user experience and you're wondering if that's a good idea?  Seems pretty obvious: don't do this.

  • Good analysis! Indeed mobile devices should be considered on the top of ideas.

  • so what about links baby??!!

  • what about links