Beantin

James Royal-Lawson

SEO

How can I improve my website?

No website is perfect. It’s not going to be. The pace of change within digital media is far too fast for us to reach perfection. We can though make them more effective.

People learn and adapt. We learn and adapt. We adjust and improve.

Testing and tweaking. That’s how you can improve your website. Adjusting and improving. Optimising what you’ve got.

A wise man said to me that you should aim to increase the conversion rate of your website every single month. A good goal to keep things moving.

4 areas of optimisation

The way in which you can improve your website is quite straightforward. There are four areas of website optimisation you should focus on.

All of them are interconnected and all of them affect your bottom line. They cost you money if you neglect them, they earn you money if you give them a little love and attention.

The four focus areas of optimisation are:

  • Web performance optimisation
  • Search engine optimisation
  • Usability optimisation
  • Conversion rate optimisation

Freeing up untapped potential

Everyone working with digital media and e-commerce is aware of Search Engine Optimisation. Often “optimisation” is taken to mean SEO and nothing else.

Many companies have spent a fair bit of cash over the years paying for SEO and SEM services to drive more traffic to their websites.

Increasing (relevant) traffic to your website is almost always a good thing. Unfortunately, if you’re site has poor usability or is sluggish due to poor web performance then you’ve got untapped potential.

The best way to free untapped potential is to turn your attention to your website. A good starting point is a website review.

Web performance optimisation

Start with web performance optimisation – in plain English, we’re talking about page speed. How fast the page loads and responds for your visitors in the context they use your site.

For some this context might be sat at a desktop computer connected to the internet via a high speed connections. For others it could be via a mobile telephone whilst in a moving vehicle.

For every second it takes for you pages to load, you could be losing you could be losing 7% of your online business. That’s expensive. Here are 5 practical tips from me to improve your page speed.

On-site SEO

After web performance, I’d tackle on-site search engine optimisation. This is where you make sure that your website is presenting the right content to search engines so that they in turn can present the right content to your potential visitors.

We need to help convince them that your page is the one they should click on amongst all the others.

Usability

Your website needs to be usable. Visitors need to be able to complete their tasks without falling over as if their shoes have been tied together. Optimising the usability of your site is your way of untying them.

The most basic (and critical) usability issues can be pinpointed quite easily. But you learn the most by testing and then analysing the behaviour of real visitors to your site. They are the ones trying to use it, not you. It’s their behaviour that counts.

Conversion optimisation

Once you’ve worked our way through these three areas of optimisation, it’s time to set your focus on CRO – Conversion rate optimisation.

This is where we look at the goals of your site and the steps a visitor goes through reach them and try to make sure the highest number of people possible make it all the way to the end.

Although usability and conversion optimisation are intrinsically related and overlapping, they are different.

You could say – Usability is making sure that it’s possible for visitors to complete their tasks. Conversion optimisation is giving them the right nudges to make sure they actually do.

User experience

I’ve laid out these four areas of optimisation for you in a specific order, but you can switch the order around or run the whole lot in parallel. It’s just a matter of resources and a bit of planning!

All-in-all we’re optimising the user experience. I could have sliced this up in a few difference ways, but all-in-all if we create high quality digital experiences, both the customer and your business will be as happy as the cat who got the cream.

Take the first step in optimising your digital business: check out my website review and audit service.

James Royal-Lawson+ is a digital strategist, web manager and optimiser based in Stockholm Sweden.

12 Articles worth reading… (Spotted: Week 22-27, 2011)

For your reading pleasure this time, a collection of links (with summaries) including articles related to: web management, SEO, intranet, UX.


Web management

The web is critical. The web team is not

‎”According to a McKinsey report, From 2004 to 2009, the Internet’s contribution to GDP in mature countries averaged about 20%.” – just think how much it could be if more organisations made good, well managed use of it!

Greenpeace R2D2 QR Code

I’ve read a fair few good things have been said about aspects of Greenpeace’s “Volkswagen” campaign – but they haven’t done a good job of using QR Codes. Yes, it looks good on R2D2’s side, but (amongst other problems) the code leads to a non-mobile version of the site…

Härmed anmäler jag Riksdagen för brott mot lagen | Emanuels randanmärkningar

The new “cookie law” came into force on July 1st here in Sweden, basically making pre-approval of cookies a requirement for a website (with some fuzzy not clearly defined exceptions). Have you adjusted all your (Swedish) sites? A draft recommendation of what to do to comply is available from IAB Sweden.

The Web Is Not A Farm! It’s Time To Tear Down The Silos

All hail the generalist! Conferences covering every “Silo” seem to be talking about how the Silos that exist in web [well, business…] have to be broken down. Unfortunately a lot of time, it is the Silo topic of the conference that paints itself as “right” and it’s all the other Silos need to be broken down. Thankfully, Kristina Mausser writes some sense. All hail T-shaped people and generalists!

A Comprehensive Website Planning Guide

Some nice parts in this Guide from Smashing Magazine. Unfortunately, it’s missing some really important aspects. What about migration? Most companies aren’t start-ups with no existing digital presence. What about SEO? Keyword research? Taking care of redirects? And then a big miss – usability testing?

Five years from now, there’ll be no such thing as a webpage

Well, no – but kind of. Yes, social (networks, content & search) will continue to make huge changes to how we consume (create and share) content – but the hub of the internet will still be pages.

UX, IA & Testing

“Come as you are” – Part 1: The Reckless years

A series of blog posts sharing stories and experiences from 13 years of working with Information Architecture. Martin is currently the lead IA and UX architect for The Guardian.

Changing the Guardian through guerilla usability testing

Examples of Guerrilla usability testing from the lead UX/IA at The Guardian newspaper in the UK. Although it’s a compliment to “proper” testing, there’s really no excuse for doing no testing at all when it’s so simple, quick (and low cost) to just get out there and collect some data!

SEO

Getting “Pure” Search Results

Some tips about how to get “clean” non-personalised search results. Useful for research. I particularly like Scroogle – allows you to search Google as a “Google virgin”.

Why Google SERP CTR studies are a waste of time

We all know how “ranking number 1 in Google” is a silly phrase these days. This article does a good job of looking at patterns in click through ratios of SERPs and analysing the behaviour. You even get a reminder of some good housekeeping tips for improving your snippet.

Intranet & Collaboration

Does your intranet make a difference for your customers?

Nice reminder from Jane that the intranet should be helping you help your customers. In particular I like the example at the end of the post where she quotes a large bank that broke their workforce down into 3 groups: front line, back office, and analytical. All of which have very different expectations and needs from the intranet – and require different strategies (and tactics)

The multiplier effect

A blog post on the Economist Blog about social collaboration platforms as a talent-centred ecosystem for organisations. They talk of “T-shaped brokers” with deep specialist knowledge (the vertical bar) and a desire to collaborate (the horizontal bar). I’ve dubbed a variation of such people as “super-creators” previously.

12 Articles worth reading… (Spotted: Week 8-9, 2011)

This time, a collection of links (and summaries) including articles related to:Web management, UX, intranets, SEO and web analytics.


Web strategy, Web management & UX

Situational Design for the Web

Responsive web design is all the rage, and rightly so – you can do some incredibly useful things with media queries and user-agent detection. But in this article Alex Dawson, at least in part, argues against a pure, one web *shall* fit all, solution and instead advocates custom solutions for each situation – with design, structure and content that fits each situation best.

Mobile Content Is Twice as Difficult

Even though “Responsive web design” is an excellent way of dealing with different screen (and viewport) sizes, there’s a growing amount of research showing that for significantly different screen sizes, adjusting the design isn’t enough – content (and even navigation and calls to action) need to be customised/optimised for the type of device. Per Axbom pointed out to me this post from 2009 suggesting developing Mobile first.

Why Hover Menus Do Users More Harm Than Good

I’ve seen this in testing and user observations many times. Hover menus are tricky beasts and cause a number of problems. I’m generally not a fan – especially, as on corporate sites, they are often just a bi-product of content-bloat.

Introducing Recipie View, based on rich snippets markup

Google has introduced a “recipes” filter, which includes options to filter further by ingredient, cooking time and number of calories. This has been implemented using microformats. Google enourages you to implement a number of these formats; you should – they’re not encouraging you just for a laugh: Rich Snippets documentation


Intranet

Social #Intranets: Silos, Culture and Moderation

Great post by Jonathan outlining a number of realistic points to take in and take on board concerning social intranets

Intranet Strategy: Shaping the future of your intranet

At the IntraTeam Event Copenhagen 2011 a show of hands indicated that just a handful of the delegates had an intranet strategy. Although still not the case for every website, it’s increasingly common that companies and organisations have strategies in place for them. Intranet’s are lagging behind in this respect. This is Sam’s presentation from the conference.


Search engine optimisation & analytics

Social media and SEO massively undervalued: study

Lots of lovely number in this post that compares measuring conversions with the conventional “last touch” attribution model with “assisted conversions” (where all channels that assisted in the conversion receive credt) and “attributed conversions” (where all channels receive a share of the conversion proportional to how many times the channel featured). Conclusion? Basing your spending on the last channel used before conversion may not be the smartest way of allocating your budget.

Site Speed – Are You Fast? Does it Matter?

Some nice geeky data showing the impact of page speed on ranking. It isn’t, of course, a major factor – as the post says, getting a few backlinks will make a much bigger difference than speeding up your page – but, slow page load times impacts on conversations – people are impatient. You should always aim to make your page as fast as you can reasonably acheive.

User-Friendly SEO

What’s good for humans is usually good for search engines, but it’s crucial to get the execution right. Much of SEO is just good web management. The real optimisation is in making sure it’s done exactly right.

Google Bounce Rates: The Untold Story

Not so much “untold” as “not told often enough”. Bounce rate is frequently misunderstood – as are many of the seemingly easy-to-understand terms and phrases within Google Analytics and web analytics in general.

Seven reasons to use lists in blog posts

A list giving reasons why lists are good. Leading by example. In addition to Shel’s seven reasons, lists are very shareable – which also means they gets linked, which also means they are good for not only generating trafic, but also SEO.


Tools

Just another test text generator

I always enjoy finding tools for generating random text that isn’t Lorem Ipsum. This one has some serious configuration options, including specifying specific languages (yes, Swedish is one of them).

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