Welcome to part 6 in our 10-part series on SEO! In part 5 we talked about the importance of internal linking strategies for SEO. Today we will discuss why human testing is a crucial, yet often overlooked, aspect of achieving higher search engine rankings.
Using People to Reach People
The entire purpose of your website is to seek out people! You may have spent hours upon hours constructing a beautiful design for your site and taking painstaking steps to add SEO elements. However, if the site does not appeal to the visitor, all of your hard work will have been in vain. The best way to see if your website is aesthetically appealing, informative, and navigable is to get outside opinions.
Find a Qualified Proofreader
You’ve looked at your website so often, you may not even be able to see the little mistakes any longer. This is when it’s a good time to get a fresh pair of eyes to give the whole thing a look-over. Have a proofreader check your content for spelling errors, syntax, grammatical errors, improper paragraph breaks, etc.
After the content has undergone a full edit, have a fresh set of eyes check out the layout of the site. Are the images appealing or distracting? Is there too much going on? Is there not enough going on? What are their first impressions when they land on your home page? Is there too much content? Not enough? Once you have gone over the aesthetic appeal of your site, move onto navigability.
Is Your Site Navigable?
Find someone who has never laid eyes on your site and have them give it a once-over. Your goal is to give the average visitor the information they want. If your test subject is unable to find what they are looking for, check to see if it’s a lapse of content, or simply a navigation problem. Either way, it is something that will need to be addressed immediately.
Where to Place Your Main Navigation?
The main navigation is generally placed on either the left or at the top of the page. Either one works; anything else does not. Why does it work? Simply because that’s where it generally is, and therefore that’s where people will go to look for it. Other navigational elements, including internal text links and image links, can easily be followed in each direction.
While giving visitors the option to check out information deeper into your site is good, remember to always provide them with an easy way back. Allowing visitors to get lost in the navigation is frustrating, and it reduces the chances they will eventually contact your business.
How do you get them back? Have them open information in a new window, add breadcrumb navigation, or add a “back to the previous page” link. Smaller sites that have all their pages included in the main navigation do not need to include these additional elements; however, it can be easy for a visitor to get lost in larger sites. Have a human test subject play with your navigation, and be sure and fix any potential problems as soon as possible.
Where to Place Your Content?
You want to place your most relevant content “above the fold,” so people will see it immediately. Put less important content below the fold. And in case you’re wondering, above the fold online means everything a user sees without having to scroll down your web page. Everything that is shown when you scroll down is considered “below the fold.”
How to Analyze and Test Your Website
There are several online tools that can help you visualize how it is people are navigating through your site. Crazy Egg is a popular service that offers the ability to actually “see” how visitors navigate through your website. Using this information, you can continually adjust your content, navigation, and SEO elements to improve your website’s effectiveness.
Having human test subjects test, test, and retest your site can provide you with invaluable information! The more test subjects you have, the better. Don’t take offense to any criticism; be grateful for honest feedback that will help you sell more!
After you launch your website, continue to seek out feedback! A poll or a simple form requesting feedback can provide insight as to why people stay on your site, or why they leave and don’t come back.
Links To The 10-Part SEO Series on How To Rank on Google
Part 1: SEO Success Starts With Keyword Research
Part 2: Why Producing Quality Content for SEO Is Important
Part 3: Structuring Your Website For SEO
Part 4: Content Optimization for SEO
Part 5: Internal Linking Strategies for SEO
Part 6: Human Testing for SEO Success
Part 7: Search Engines Submissions for SEO
Part 8: Link Building for SEO
Part 9: Monitoring Your SEO Efforts
Part 10: Extra Tools & Resources for SEO Success