When it comes to optimizing one's site for the major search engines, it's tempting to believe that there is some magical formula that will guarantee increased traffic and lead to conversions. We often get bogged down in the technical side of the SEO process. How can we increase the load speed of the homepage? Are we getting maximum use out of the site's meta data? While these are certainly all important things to keep in mind during an SEO campaign, ultimately it is user satisfaction that will ensure your site sees steady traffic and an increase in links.
How crucial is a satisfying user experience? Let's take a look at a couple of the biggest names on the web during the last decade that have seen huge drop offs in their popularity.
If someone told you six or seven years ago that Digg and Myspace were going to be sold for mere fractions of what they were once worth, would you laugh at them?
After all, the popularity of these sites was staggering. It seemed like everyone under 30 had a Myspace account in those days and inroads were starting to be made with older demographics. Digg was the premier place to see what the most talked about stories were on any given day. If your content made it to the top of Digg, you might as well have been King of the Internet for a brief period of time.
On June 12th, Digg sold for $500,000 and will be rendered defunct when the buyer, Betaworks, folds the site into an existing product. In 2008, there were talks that Google was going to purchase Digg for $200 million. Similarly, Myspace was purchased by News Corp. in 2005 for $580 million. In 2011, it sold for $35 million. How did these internet powerhouses lose so much traffic and, therefore, value? They lost sight of what their users wanted. Competitors like Reddit and Facebook came along and overtook them in popularity.
Giving site visitors what they want is just as crucial to a successful SEO campaign. Optimization can only go so far if the content on your site isn't engaging and useful. Give people a reason to come back on a regular basis. By gaining your visitors' trust and interest, they will be more likely to share links to your site within their social networking circles. Digg made the mistake of giving its users all sorts of features they didn't want and ended up paying for it. A good user experience should be a part of every SEO effort.
July 13, 2012
Todd Bailey is Director of Search, Media and PR with Gen3 Marketing and US Brand Ambassador for Majestic SEO. Also, Founder/Editor of pushStar.com