What comes to mind when you see the term “SEO“? Where do you focus all your energy when you’re trying to improve your search rankings?
Most people focus a large proportion of their time on “keywords” and not much else.
However, if you’ve been working diligently on keyword optimization but are still not getting the results you want, you may need to consider other factors that affect search engine ranking.
Search engine algorithms not only rate the relevance of your keywords on pages, and in the meta data, in relation to a user’s search terms, but they also evaluate information such as the duration visitors stay on your site, bounce rate, broken links, pages viewed, inbound and outbound links and so on…
In this article, I’ll look at the various aspects of website usability that impact SEO, how to improve website usability to boost SEO ranking and what to do when there seems to be conflict between usability and SEO “best practice.”
What is website usability?
Website usability encompasses many elements of website design, most of which are also tied to conversion.
Here are a few that can affect search engine ranking:
Effectiveness: can users achieve their objectives when they land on your website? e.g. Can they find the information they need, order the products they desire, or contact the company for customer service?
Efficiency: adding to effectiveness is efficiency. Besides being able to achieve an objective, how quickly can a user complete a task? If visitors cannot find what they need effectively and efficiently on your website, they’re more likely to navigate away. The shorter time they spend on your website may have a negative impact on the SEO ranking.
Learnability: can users learn to navigate your website quickly? Are the calls-to-action that are clickable consistent so visitors know how to interact? When visitors spend too much time trying to figure out how to use your website, they’re spending less time consuming your information or looking at your products. Plus, when they can’t find what they need, it’s likely that they will get frustrated, navigate away and never come back.
Memorability: can users re-find your website next time they go onto a search engine? Repeat traffic can help you get a Google ranking boost. Visitors may find your website and then navigate away for a number of reasons. They may remember it later and try to search for it again. Is the keyword associated with that particular search memorable enough so they can find your site again?
Error Prevention: certain errors on a website can affect not only user experience but also SEO ranking. e.g. A 404 Page Not Found error, a link that says one thing but displays something else, or a broken link that is no longer valid.
The main reason that usability is so important is because there are so many similar websites that people will go to the next site if the first one they visit is not usable. You can have the most beautiful website in the world, but people will leave immediately if they are unable to figure out how to navigate your site quickly.
Usability testing is used to test all forms of interactions that humans have with devices (Image credit – Mediamatic)
As stated in the article Why Web Site Usability is Important for a Company, on the web, companies entirely rely on their web presence in order to achieve their online goals. Similarly, a user of a company’s web site will formulate a judgement about that company that is strongly correlated with the way they perceive its web site. Furthermore, usable websites increase user satisfaction whereas web sites which violate usability conventions confuse users and result in a loss of revenue for the companies behind them. This is because improving usability is a great way to encourage users to visit your site instead of the sites that belong to your competitors and is often an approach that keeps customers coming back to your site again and again. Indeed, high-quality websites that are easy to use bring in customers and give a particular site a competitive edge over the competition.
Usability Testing is a technique used to evaluate a product (in this case a website) by testing is on users. Most people who set up a usability test carefully construct a scenario wherein a person performs a list of tasks that someone who is using the website for the first time is likely to perform. Someone else observes and listens to the person who is performing the tasks while taking notes. Watching someone perform common tasks on a website is a great way to test whether the site is usable because you will immediately be able to see whether they are able to perform the tasks and any difficulties they have while doing so.
The result of usability testing using an eye tracking device indicates where the user has looked and the length of time he/she stared (Image credit – User Vision)
Explorative:Used early in product development to assess the effectiveness and usability of a preliminary design or prototype, as well as users’ thought processes and conceptual understanding.
Assessment:Used midway in product development or as an overall usability test for technology evaluation. Evaluates real-time trials of the technology to determine the satisfaction, effectiveness, and overall usability.
Comparative:Compares two or more instructional technology products or designs and distinguishes the strengths and weaknesses of each.
Validate your website and Analytics configuration instantly.
If you couldn’t Implementation this article don’t worry Smart Clouds do all of thing to your website, Google Tag Assistant Recordings is an instant validation, diagnosis, and data troubleshooting tool. Google Tag Assistant Recordings lets you quickly validate your website and analyze your Analytics implementation. By recording a critical user flow, you can find and correct problems that, left unaddressed, can lead to inaccurate or corrupted data in your Analytics properties and views. Google Tag Assistant Recordings can also be used to review your tags across other Google products, such as AdWords, DoubleClick and Tag Manager.
Bad data in your web analytics solution can impact your business negatively in a number of ways. For starters, there’s the time, effort, and expense required to discover, diagnose and fix data issues. It may be difficult to separate the good data from the bad, especially for high-volume sites. Actions based on wrong assumptions are likely to be ineffectual, if not actually counter-productive. And you may miss opportunities that would have been apparent if your original data was valid.
Analytics currently performs regular automated diagnostics on your properties. These diagnostics are certainly helpful but are subject to certain limitations, such as:
Diagnostics can only be applied to the data you’ve already collected, so any corrupted or bad data is already part of your account.
Diagnostics can’t crawl pages that are protected by authentication or login walls, or that are part of dynamic page flows, such as an ecommerce checkout process.
Diagnostics does not understand the structure of your site or the way your users can flow between pages.
Diagnostics can’t tell you if a problem has been fixed until more data has been collected and processed. By which time, you might have collected yet more bad data if the fix didn’t work.
Google Tag Assistant Recordings is part of the Google Tag Assistant extension for the Chrome browser. When Google Tag Assistant Recordings is active, you can record the tags, events and interactions for any arbitrary series of pages or sites you visit. Google Tag Assistant Recordings can be used to record all the pages that make up a complete user flow, even if part of the flow doesn’t occur on your primary domain.
For example, a typical user flow might start with a user searching the web for your product, then clicking a resulting paid ad or organic (unpaid) link that takes that user to your site. The user may browse your product catalog, add an item to a shopping cart (which might be hosted on a different domain), review their order, provide shipping and payment information, click a Submit Order button, and finally, return to your site’s Thank You page, where you record a Goal completion.
With Google Tag Assistant Recordings enabled, each of these pages is part of the recording, even those that are not part of your site or that are constructed dynamically (such as the shopping carts Review Order page). For each page in the flow, Google Tag Assistant Recordings conducts a number of tests and gathers information on the results, which it will report to you when the recording is finished. Google Tag Assistant Recordings reports only include the data collected by your own flow; they won’t be cluttered with information from other users’ activities.
You can save a recording and reanalyze it later. This means you can make changes to your Analytics account configuration and see the effects of those changes by rerunning the recording against the new configuration. There’s no need to repeat the recording steps. This allows you to validate and refine your configuration in real-time.
Note: when reanalyzing a recording, the hits in that recording are not sent to Analytics, so your data is not impacted as you troubleshoot and refine your configuration.
Google Tag Assistant Recordings can also review your tags across other Google products and non-Google sites.
Google Tag Assistant Recordings provides two detailed reports:
The Tag Assistant report
The Tag Assistant report shows all the tags that fired on all the pages you visited during the recording session. This includes Google tags, for example, Analytics tracking codes, Google Tag Manager tags, and DoubleClick Remarketing tags, as well as third-party (non-Google) tags that may contain or manage Google tags.
The Analytics report shows how your recorded data would look when processed by your current Analytics configurations. You can select from amongst all your properties and views to verify your web site and Analytics implementation. You can make changes to your Analytics configuration and easily reanalyze your recordings to test and refine that implementation.
Who should use Google Tag Assistant Recordings
Google Tag Assistant Recordings was designed with two key audiences in mind:
Marketers – anyone making decisions based on Analytics data. Marketers can use Google Tag Assistant Recordings to quickly validate that their site and Analytics configuration are working well together.
Developers – anyone actually building web products and implementing Analytics or other tags. Developers can get detailed information on how the tags they’ve implemented behave so that they can validate their products and troubleshoot problems.
Prerequisites for using Google Tag Assistant Recordings
Currently, Google Tag Assistant Recordings is only available as part of the Google Tag Assistant Chrome browser extension.
Unsaved recordings are temporary; they are stored until you close your browser window or start a new recording.
Saving a recording only preserves the Analytics portion of the recording; the Google Tag Assistant portion and associated report is not saved. You can print your reports to PDF if you wish to preserve them.
Google Tag Assistant Recordings is currently available in English only.
Sessions recorded by Google Tag Assistant Recordings are private. Your online activity is not stored or tracked by the extension (beyond the hit traffic that is sent to Analytics as part of the analysis).
Also note that Chrome extensions are automatically configured not to run in Incognito tabs. You can configure them to run in Incognito windows from the Chrome Extensions page.
If you manage one or more websites designed for users in a specific country speaking a specific language, you want to make sure that search results display the relevant language and country version of your pages. To ensure that your content reaches the correct audience, you will use two general mechanisms:
You can use three implementation mechanisms for this:
Use the <link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x” href=”alternateURL“> tag in the <head> section of your pages to list alternate language versions for each page. Each page should provide a hreflang tag that links to all other language variants of itself, as well as a tag that refers back to itself. For more granular targeting, you can use the hreflang attribute to indicate language and country combinations (e.g. en-ie, en-ca, en-us). Read more about the hreflang tag in our Content guidelines section.
In addition making sure your site URLs map to alternate language variants, you will also likely use geographic-specific domains or configure your entire site structure to deliver content to a specific geographic and language preference. To learn more, read the best practices as explained in Multi-regional and multilingual sites in our Content guidelines.
Once you have configured multi-language or multi-regional sites and pages, you can use two sections in the International targeting pages to keep your international presence healthy:
The Language section—this helps you ensure your hreflang tags use the correct locale codes (language and optional country). More commonly, you can make sure that alternate pages have tags that link back to the pages for your site.
The Countrysection—you can use this tool to set a site-wide country target for your entire site, if necessary.
The Language section of the International Targeting page provides a bird’s eye view on errors from hreflang links throughout your site. When you set up hreflang tags, Google finds them on your site and eventually crawls the corresponding URLs referred to by the tags, reporting errors on the originating pages and missing return links on the destination pages once they are crawled this is a normal tag that SEO services San Diego use for the customer. This helps you maintain a healthy international presence so that search results for your visitors display the language and country variant you want them to see. For example, if you manage three international sites and you want to monitor errors for the Spanish site, you’d choose the Spanish version from the site selector (e.g. www.example.es) to see all language variants for that site with return errors.
This page displays two common errors in multi-regional sites:
Missing return tags from alternate language codes
For every language code and alternate URL you indicate with anhreflang tag, Google ensures that the alternate page has a return tag that links back to the page on your site.
Unknown language codes
Google shows when you use an incorrect or unknown language code in yourhreflang
The report graph
You can mouse over the lines in the graph to see the total hreflang tags Google found on the selected site (blue line) and the number of hreflang tags that suffer from errors (red line).
No return tags
This error is the most common error for international sites. For each language code you provide, the table lists a total count of alternate pages that have no return tag linking back to the selected site. The table aggregates missing return tag by implementation and locale:
Page-level— the total number of hreflang errors by language in the <head> section of your pages.
Sitemap— the total number of hreflang errors found in your sitemap.
HTTP headers— the total number of hreflang errors for alternate files provided in your HTTP header configuration.
You can click on an error to inspect details for that locale. For page-level tags, the detail report shows a maximum of 1,000 URLs on your site, paired with the alternate-language page that’s missing a return tag to its mate. For sitemap details, the report lists the sitemap that indicates the URL pairing and the alternate URL that has no return link. For HTTP headers, the detail page indicates the configuration and alternate URL with no return link. As with page-level errors, the detail page shows a maximum of 1,000 URLs with missing return tags.
For unknown language (and optional country) codes that you have indicated in your site, the table displays the locale followed by unknown language code. As with the no return tag error, you can drill down to see URL-level details and total counts of unknown language codes for that specific locale.
Target your search results to a specific country
Google Search returns the most relevant and useful sites for a user. Because of this, search results can differ between a user in Ireland and a user in France.
If your site has a generic top-level domain, such as .com or .org, you can help us determine which countries are most important to you. If your site has a country-coded top-level domain (such as .ie or .fr) it is already associated with a geographic region (in this example, Ireland or France). If you use a country-coded domain, you won’t be able to specify a geographic location. You can specify a target country in the International Targeting report.
On the International Targeting report, click the Country
Check the Geographic target checkbox and choose your country target. If you want to ensure that your site is not associated with any country or region, select Unlisted in the drop-down list.
This setting is only for geographic data. If you’re targeting users in different locations—for example, if you have a site in French that you want users in France, Canada, and Mali to read—don’t use this tool to set France as a geographic target. A good example of where it would be useful is for a restaurant website: if the restaurant is in Canada, it’s probably not of interest to folks in France. But if your content is in French and is of interest to people in multiple countries/regions, it’s probably better not to restrict it.
How do we determine location without Search Console?
If no information is entered in Search Console, Google relies largely on the site’s country domain (such as .ca, .de). If you use an international domain (.com, .org, .eu), we’ll rely on several signals, including IP address, location information on the page, links to the page, and any relevant information from Google My Business. If you change hosting provider for a country domain, there should be no impact. If you change the hosting provider of an international domain to a provider in another country, we recommend using Search Console to tell us which country your site should be associated with.
Generic top-level domains (gTLDs) are domains that aren’t associated with specific locations. If your site has a generic top-level domain such as .com, .org, or any of the domains listed below, and wants to target users in a particular geographic location, you should set a country target.
Google treats the following as gTLDs that can be geotargeted in Search Console:
Generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs): Unless a top level domain is registered as a country code top level domain(ccTLD) with ICANN, Google will treat any TLD that resolves through the IANA DNS root zone as a gTLD.
Generic regional top-level domains: Although these domains are associated with a geographical region, they are generally treated as generic top-level domains (much like .com or .org):
Generic Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs): Google treats some ccTLDs (such as .tv, .me, etc.) as gTLDs, as we’ve found that users and webmasters frequently see these more generic than country-targeted. Here is a list of those ccTLDs (this list may change over time).
There are certain site wide factors that can affect your sites search visibility as well:
Sitemap. A sitemap helps search engine to index all pages on your site. It is the simplest and most effective way to tell Google what pages your website includes. you can generate your sitemap online from https://www.xml-sitemaps.com/
Domain trust. Trust matters. It’s hard not to think that sites Google trusts should rank higher. But how do you build that trust? Brian from Backlink has a full list of trust factors here. Needless to say, building trust factors of your domain will certainly pay off.
Server location. Some SEOs believe that a server’s location helps to boost rankings for that specific country or region. But Smart Clouds think that your content is very important than your SL.
Mobile optimized site. Only a year ago, 46% of searchers used mobile exclusively to research. From 2015 google emphasize on responsive site even help you that know what is your website condition on mobile? “Mobile-Friendly Test”, having a mobile optimized site would affected rankings in some way.
Google Webmasters Tools integration. Lastly, having your site verified at Google Webmasters Tools is said to help with your sites indexing. Even if that’s not the case, the tool provides valuable data you can use to better optimize your site such as Bing – Webmaster Tools.
Off-site optimization is the process of promoting your website across the web. The purpose is to build brand awareness, improve rankings in search engines and attract visitors from 3rd party websites.
When ranking your pages, Google looks at factors outside of your site as well. Here are some of the key ones:
The number of linking domains. The number of domains linking to you is one of the most important ranking factors.
The number of linking pages. There might be a number of links from a particular domain to your site, their number is a ranking factor too. However, it is still better to have more links from individual domains rather than from a single domain. Smart Clouds suggest to you check back link with small tools SEO.
PageRank of linking page. Not all pages are equal. Links on pages with higher PageRank will be a bigger factor than those on low PR pages. Therefore, you should strive to build links from high PR pages.
Link relevancy. Some SEOs believe that links from pages related to your pages topic carry more relevance for search engines.
Authority of linking domain. Similarly to a page PR, the authority of a domain may be a ranking factor too. For that reason, a link from low PR page on a high PR site will be worth more than from a lower PR one.
Links from homepage. Similarly, some SEOs believe that links from a home page of a linking domain carry more strength than those on one of its pages.
Number of do follow vs. no follow links. Google officially stated that they don’t count no follow links (link with rel=nofollow attribute attached). Therefore the number of your do follow links should affect your rankings too.
Diversity of link types. The types of links you build to your site matters too. Too many links of one type may be a spam indicator and impact your rankings negatively.
Contextual links. It is said that links within the content of the page are worth more than links in a sidebar for instance.
Link anchor. Anchor text of a link used to be a strong ranking factor. Today it can be used as a web spam indicator, negatively impacting your rankings.
Facebook. Create content, on your own website and on a Facebook page that appeals to Facebook users. Encourage people to ‘like’ your content and share it with their friends and family.
Banner Advertising. Create image adverts to display on relevant 3rd party websites. Regularly change the websites advertised on to expose your brand to new audiences.
Google plus. . Create content, on your own website and on a Google plus page that appeals to google plus users. Encourage people to ‘+1’ your content and share it with their friends and family and follow your page.
Pay Per Click. Use Google Adwords and Facebook Advertising to gain instant new visitors. Constantly review and adjust ads to improve click through rates and reduce the cost per click.
Content Marketing. Contact companies and bloggers with relevant (but non-competing) websites. Publish content on their websites which links back to your website. that most familiar blogs such as : Tumblr, WordPress, Livejournal, Weebly, blog
Lastly, your domain can affect your rankings as well. Some of the domain signals aren’t as strong as they used to be, there are few things worth paying attention to:
Domain registration length. Google considers domains registered for longer than a year as more trustworthy. QUOTE.
Domain history. You may not be the first person who registered the domain. And if your domain has been penalized in the past, its history might affect its current rankings.
Country TLD extension. If you try to target a specific local market, it is said that having a domain with a country specific TLD (.pl, .co.uk or .ie for instance) will help to achieve better rankings for that location.