Last month I attended Distilled's SearchLove conference in Boston.
The speaker list was a who's who of SEO pros, like Neil Patel and Rand Fishkin...
But there was one speaker I'd never head of in my life: Abby Covert. The reason I hadn't heard of her? She wasn't in the SEO field (gasp!).
Why would the Distilled team invite someone who didn't have a clue about link building or canonical URLs to an SEO conference?
Because she knew something most SEOs don't: how to create a stellar user experience for users.
What does this have to do with SEO? Because user experience (often shortened to "UX"), is not only a Google ranking factor, but it influences how people share your site. A great UX can be the difference between a link from an authority site...and a frustrated back button click.
Her talk shed light on some dumb mistakes that I was making on my site: which was costing my site serious links and social shares.
So today I'm going to show you some simple 5-minute "hacks" that will significantly boost your site's UX:
Content is king...if people actually read it.
And massive blocks of text with zero subheadings make that a tall task for most casual readers.
Here's an example of what NOT to do:
Here are a few simple strategies you can use to make sure people actually read your hard work:
You may think these are minor details, but they make a huge difference in how people interact with your site.
Nothing says "site neglect" more than a bunch of broken links.
I'm sure you do broken link building for your client's sites. Why not do it for your own?
If your site has been around for 3 months or more I recommend checking out your broken links using a free program like Screaming Frog or by using the web-based Brokenlinkcheck.com.
In fact, I stopped writing this article to check out the link situation at Backlinko. Even though the site's only a few months old, it already had several broken links:
I know you have a lot on your plate, but take the 45-seconds you need to make sure your site's links are working.
Because when people click on a broken link, they definitely have a "WTF" moment that makes them question your site's trustworthiness.
One piece of advice I've heard Rand Fishkin say over and over again boils down to this (paraphrasing): "I'm always surprised at how even crudely made diagrams influence the amount of shares our content gets us."
And you may notice that almost 100% of Moz's blog posts contain some sort of chart or diagram (even if there's no data in the post).
It's just another way for "heavy scrollers" to pause for a second and take in your content.
Screenshots, charts and diagrams also help increase the perceived value of your content. This is important for UX because it leaves the user with a sense of satisfaction, which makes them more likely to sign up for your newsletter or check out more of your website's content.
I don't want to break this to you, but most people that read you're stuff aren't doing so because of your compelling plot-lines or engaging characters...
...they want to get something out of it!
If you're dropping knowledge bombs in a post, consider adding summaries and takeaway points after each subheading or at the end of your article.
For example, I recently published 7 Ways to Protect Your Site Against Google's Next Update.
The post had a lot of SEO theory and personal insights: something that only some of my readerswould be interested in.
So that skimmers got something from the post I included these little "takeaway points" after each subheadings:
This is a simple trick that makes your content more accessible for busy people...which also happens to be authority site owners that you want to get links from!
This tip is important for CRO and UX.
I see a ton of blogs with sidebars that are literally overflowing with buttons, badges, and links.
What a way to make your user confused and overwhelmed!
Yes, I know you're proud of your site's accolades (as you should be).
But it's important to give your visitors very few choices when they're on your site.
Consider your sidebar prime real estate, and only include links and banners when absolutely necessary (for example, linking to your best content or advertising).
If you feel that you're publishing great content -- but not seeing an SEO payoff -- then you may want to skip this week's blog post and work on some user experience metrics instead. When you do you may just find yourself with higher conversions and more links.
Brian Dean is the link building expert behind Backlinko, a growing hub for link builders and SEO pros. There he posts expert insights, powerful link building strategies, and exclusive case studies to help business owners and SEOs get more search engine traffic. He's been knee deep in SEO since 2008. Since then he's launched a number of profitable authority sites and consulted for businesses of all shapes and sizes. When he's not link building for his sites or for his clients he's usually backbacking through Asia or Europe. If you want to read cutting edge SEO content you should follow him on Twitter.
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