As a member of the Search Marketing community, I am always eager to see what great announcements those search engine powerhouses have in store for us. This year, my hope is that the search engines will realize that usability should be a primary ranking factor over some current metrics that are so often manipulated such as link popularity.
With all of the user information these engines have at their disposal, how is it that they still rely so heavily on link popularity metrics to determine what constitutes a relevant result? Why do they put so much value on what happens before the click and not more weight on the data they have regarding behavior after that click? The most honest feedback a search engine can get regarding the quality of their results is already at their finger tips.
If I land on a page with useful information about the topic for which I searched, and if that site is easy to understand, navigate and use, I will stay on the site and engage with the content. Alternatively, if I immediately leave a site and return to the search results or perform another search, this should be a red flag to the search engine that I did not find a relevant result.
In my opinion, the following usability metrics should be utilized more prominently by search engines to help determine relevancy and should be assessed by each search term/phrase:
- Bounce rate
- Time spent on the site
- Engagement rate
- Actions taken
- Subsequent searches
B2B Website Implications
What would this mean to you as a B2B marketer? For one thing, no more wasted time link baiting/swapping/buying. It also means that your B2B marketing efforts will need to go beyond getting mere traffic to your website.
For example, don’t rely solely on traditional website analytics data to understand how prospects are interacting with your site. One suggestion: add visual/graphical user analysis tracking. Software such as CrazyEgg and ClickTale provide B2B marketers with a visual (heat map) rendering of where people click, how they engage, and how they move through your site.
You can, at a glance, understand prospects’ behavior and identify areas for improvement in terms of website navigation, calls to action, and conversion funnels.
Improve B2B Online Actions And Conversions
Specifically, B2B marketers can use this data to analyze and improve desired online actions such as:
- registration form completion
- subscription or webinar sign-up
- contact a sales rep
- download a whitepaper
- access to product specification pages
Benefits of Usability And Conversion Improvement
B2B marketers should take the time to ensure an optimal user experience on your website. Usability and conversion improvement will not only help you as the website owner – they can assist search engines in providing relevant search results. A fast, easy, intuitive experience from search query to conversion is the best way to guarantee that a user returns to perform more searches.
Will there be a day that rankings are based on quality content and usability factors over keyword spamming and links? Maybe this is the year; will you be ready?
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.