When website designers and companies fret over SEO and how to get the best possible rankings for their websites on the search engines, it is the customer who has the last say. However good the ranking is, if a customer doesn’t choose to click on your link, they won’t visit your website. If they do click through, it doesn’t mean that they like what they see. They may bounce off and leave.
A website that is not well optimized for search engine optimization is like a restaurant with no visitors. It could be the most beautiful, friendliest restaurant in town, serving a wonderful selection of great quality food. But if it’s hidden off the beaten track, no-one will find it. If on the other hand, your website ranks highly it’s like a restaurant slap bang in the middle of a busy thoroughfare and you’ll be blessed with plenty of walk-in trade. But if your high ranking website has poor, irrelevant content, it’s equivalent to a mediocre menu, a frosty ambience and an unwelcoming Maître D’. Then your potential customers will just turn on their heels and not even stay for a drink.
So when it comes to making your website seen and enjoyed by your potential customers, it’s not just about SEO. It’s also about the welcome they receive when they click through to your website. If your website is beautifully designed, with clear navigation and content that engages, your prospective customer will start to take a good look around. They might even stay a while if they like what they see because they are enjoying the whole experience. If they simply love it, they will bookmark it and share it with their friends.
A poor experience will start badly. Yes the website ranked on the first page of the search results and the customer was intrigued enough to land on your home page. But if the website is poorly laid out, looks unprofessional, is hard to navigate and is frankly all a bit of a mess, the customer will up and leave.
So when you are putting masses of time and effort into SEO, think about things from your customers’ perspective. Perhaps a better name for Search Engine Optimization is Search Experience Optimization as so succinctly put by Matt Cutts.
Because as sure as eggs are eggs, customers who enjoy the experience of navigating around your website are far more likely to convert – to sign up for more information or better still make a purchase. But a bad experience will result in a dissatisfied client who has resolved to ignore your website in the future, regardless of how high up the rankings it appears.
Actions always speak louder than words so closely monitor your website traffic and conversion rates, and think about the overall experience you are offering to your visitors.