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July 23, 2012

SEO, Blogging and the User Experience

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Do we think enough about the user experience when we do SEO, or do we get caught up in the algorithm a little too often? When you’re serious about your discipline, of course you want to understand the minute details and how everything works; but focusing on the big-picture of user experience can only make us stronger in whatever discipline we practice within Web marketing.

Cartoon of Batman Riding a Unicorn

Is your user’s experience this awesome?

This is the topic we explore in our July SEO Newsletter, the UX edition. Our feature story dives into using SEO to create a great user experience; our “Back to Basics” article looks at how to make blog posts more “readable” with UX in mind; and the “International” piece from Bruce Clay Australia dives into recent improvements for Google Plus users.

Here’s what you need to know from the July SEO Newsletter:

SEO and UX: Serving Robots and Humans Together

In a video from Matt Cutts in April 2012, he reminds us of some of the things SEOs should focus on. And it’s no surprise that user experience is at the forefront. Among his notable quotes from the video:

“ … I wouldn’t focus as much on the actual ranking signals. Rather, I would concentrate on trying to make something that’s compelling. Because that’s the sort of thing that’s going to be really rewarding for users, and so is going to be the kind of thing that we would like to return in our search results.”

In the SEO Newsletter feature, Virginia Nussey talks to two marketers who emphasize user experience in their disciplines, Loren Baxter and Mark Oleszczak. This article touches on what SEO tactics are made for the user experience, and how to know when they’re not.

Blogging and the User Experience

Most of us understand the value of unique, engaging content on a blog. But the aesthetics of a blog post also impacts UX – how it’s formatted, the fonts used, the way the information is presented and how the imagery is incorporated. The end product should incorporate techniques that create an efficient experience for the person who is reading.

In the July Back to Basics article, we look at how the following affects UX on a blog:

  • The style of writing: How you approach your topic – the style or method – can create very different experiences. It also lends itself to how you organize the information of the post. For example, an inverted pyramid approach gives all the important information upfront in the first couple paragraphs; a narrative post tells a first-person story in chronological order, and so on and so forth. And no matter which style you choose, special techniques for blog writing applies.
  • The design of the post: This includes things like the font you use; the leading (or space) in between sentences; the use of headers, subsections and lists to break up content; and the addition of multiple types of imagery and interactive content where appropriate. Keeping it interesting and easy to digest is key.

Google Plus Evolves

It’s no secret that Google is consistently updating its products to improve the user experience. In this SEO Newsletter International article from Sara Borghi of Bruce Clay Australia, she explores the recent evolution of Google Plus and three new functionalities. Learn more about the following Google+ updates:

  • Recommendations: Allows users to find content on a site with suggestions from Google Plus when they hover over the +1 button.
  • Translate for Google+: An extension that translates posts on Google+ that are in a foreign language from the user.
  • Google+ iPad app: A new application that creates an iPad-only experience for Google+ users, putting imagery at the forefront.

There’s more goodies in the July SEO Newsletter, so don’t miss out on the jam-packed issue!

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16 responses to “SEO, Blogging and the User Experience”

  1. Leo Dimilo writes:

    Hey Jessica,

    I think a lot of SEO’s are returning to the basics premise partially because Google is forcing their hand and partially because the landscape of SEO in relation to plain old marketing strategies is expanding ; where once the ROI was in the ranking itself, it now becomes symbiosis between all the marketing elements working well together.

    And this includes, content, story line, brand definition, and of course, SEO.

  2. Jessica Lee writes:

    Well said, Leo.

    -Jessica

  3. Gino Orlandi writes:

    Google has always recommended having a quality site, quality content, etc., but now, their algorithms are finally reflecting that. For years people got away with horrible content, a bad design and spammy links.

    They are finally putting action behind their words with their algorithms.

  4. Nick Stamoulis writes:

    Blog readers typically will skim a blog post, so it’s best to lay it out using different headers or bullet points. A blog should also be easy to navigate. Even if the content is great, if the user experience or design is poor the blog owner will have a hard time gaining repeat visitors.

  5. Page One Power writes:

    It’s so important that we not neglect the face behind the interface. So much content is out there that the stuff that isn’t easily accessible in some way will quickly be abandoned. Two of Apple’s selling points are its aesthetic and its ease of use; bloggers would do well to take a leaf out of their book.

  6. Jessica Lee writes:

    @PageOnePower: I totally agree. Off topic, but I just switched to a Mac last year, and I don’t think I’ll ever go back. Apple knows all about “the experience.” Thanks for commenting.

  7. Jessica Lee writes:

    @Nick: It’s funny, because I usually have pretty in-depth blog posts (a lot of times because they are “how to” posts), and I often wonder if people get through it all. I’m planning on experimenting a bit with the format and length to see how that fares. Thanks for your comment!

  8. Jessica Lee writes:

    @Gino: Agree — I think that was always their intent, but it’s so hard to get everyone on board with quality and user experience, so the algo is one way to get people to do it, eh? Thanks for reading!

  9. Kent writes:

    Hi Jessica, thanks for the video.

    I have to say, human factor is one of the most important “Signal” for SEO. I socialize on Linkedin to push my SEO.

    Here is how I do it – I connected with some famous author all around the world, they are Neal Schaffer, Alison Woo, John C. Maxwell, Brian Solis, etc.

    Since I always have seminars in Malaysia, I always promote books and the book authors. I will conduct an interview (to promote the authors) and put on my blog. When people read the interview, they will spread on Twitter, Linkedin, blog, Facebook and other platforms (link building).

    The greatest advantage is not only helping my blog SEO, but the relationship that I build with those authors and working on long term project.

    That’s a win win situation that I always like to build. It works very well.

    Content is KING, then relationship is SUPER KING!

  10. Nathan writes:

    Hi Jessica

    We own and manage a site dedicated to Cats and it was becoming difficult to grab people’s attention all the way to the end of a 400 word blog post…so we now summarise the headings at the beginning of the post and if the visitor wants to, they can jump to the part that is most interesting or relevant to them. So far, the feedback has been good…

  11. Eric Jackson writes:

    In the realm of SEO it will always be a delicate balance of providing a good user experience while at the same time trying to “game” the search engines and their non-human algorithms. If you think like a user and provide content that you would in fact latch on to, then you really can’t go wrong.

  12. jared writes:

    With the changes Google has been making, creating content with value has become extremely important and has made things like keyword stuffing a thing of the past.

  13. Jessica Lee writes:

    @Kent: I like the last thing you said especially — the relationship rules all. Thanks as always for joining the conversation.

  14. Jessica Lee writes:

    @Nathan: I love that approach. I’ve worked with designers who have been able to make that top-of-page summary look really great. We’ve also experimented with adding in the three main points in a “tips” box on some of our posts and articles. Funny, I just used the concept of a website that talks about cats in one of my recent posts about relevant Web content: http://www.bruceclay.com/blog/2012/07/relevant-website-content/

  15. Jessica Lee writes:

    @Eric: Couldn’t have said it better myself. Thanks for weighing in.

  16. Jessica Lee writes:

    @Jared: We can only hope keyword stuffing will go away already. I *personally” even think that some of the more stringent rules of SEO copywriting are obsolete.



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