- Write great content – update regularly
Content is King – a bit of a cliché maybe, but it is still absolutely true. Your content is the reason people come to your site and quality/quantity of content is also among the main factors in search engine ranking. Visitors don’t come because they like the look of the site, or because you have some fancy transitions for images etc. It’s all about the content. Adding new content and ensuring existing content is updated so it remains relevant is extremely important for influencing search engine rankings and gaining traffic . Quality, relevant content establishes your site as an authority in your subject area. Visitors will learn to appreciate the content and its credibility — so will the major search engines and you will be rewarded with search traffic. So build great quality content, keep it up to date and add new content regularly. If you build it (and maintain it) they will come!
- Test different layouts – position of advertisements, menus, social media etc.
Layout has a real, measurable impact on user experience and on how your users engage with your advertisers. A menu placed at the top, or to the left rather than to the right of a page can make a big difference to the ease of navigation through your pages. Same with positions of ads – placing a MPU advert directly above the start of your content can be much more effective than, say, a large skyscraper over on the right. But beware, each site is different, what works for one site and its users may not be as effective on another.
Impact of testing change of advert position
Many publishers are concerned that advert positions may have an impact on user experience – they are right! But a prominent advert is not necessarily detrimental to user experience. To determine what works best you really need to run some tests, either A/B, or multivariate tests. Some of the results are entirely counter-intuitive too. What might seem like an intrusive advert may actually result in improved user experience metrics. Again, not always, and to make sure testing is the only way to be sure. Either way, spend some time determining the aim of your site – i.e. what is it you are trying to improve? Then design, set-up the test, wait for the results and analyze what they mean for your site. A/B testing, where you test response to one layout versus another can be extremely effective, but there is always the risk that one metric improves while another gets worse, so it can be difficult to isolate the causes of changes in metrics. Another way to test is to run a multivariate test – here many elements on several different layouts are being tested simultaneously. This does need higher levels of traffic than A/B testing and again it may be difficult to determine causality but this way you know which of several layouts best suit your visitors’ preferences while matching your aims for the site. Testing can be hard, but it really is essential if you want to strike the correct balance between content, layout, user experience and revenue.
- Get mobile
The growth of mobile browsing shows no sign of slowing down. This year, more browsing will take place on mobile devices than on laptops/desktop computers. Sadly, many mobile sites are simply miniaturized versions of the desktop site. Text is so small that it can’t be read without expanding the text, so you lose where you are on a site. Links are so narrow and close together that it’s virtually impossible to click on the link you want (‘fat thumb’ syndrome!) Also you often have to click through many pages before reaching the content you want.
A modern mobile site will have a drop down, expanding menu with legible text and thumb friendly links and buttons. Users can navigate within the site straight from the home page without downloading content they are not looking for, saving them time and megabytes on their download plan. As you can see from this example, you can navigate into the 4th level without leaving the homepage.
New Mobile Menu Sequence
Furthermore, modern mobile sites needs to more than resize for mobile. It needs to be responsive, or adapt, to the screen size it is being browsed on. Navigation, adverts, content, images, data tables etc. all need to be configured for each user dependent on screen size and device.
- Pay attention to download speeds
Download speed is always important, but even more so on mobile sites. Information is being requested often via narrow bandwidth carriers and assembled by slower processors than in a high-spec laptop or desktop using high speed broadband or wifi. Innovative techniques can be employed to speed up mobile downloads. These include cloud serving and CDNs, eliminating unnecessary rendering code, loading popular pages first (known as lazy loading and so on. To deliver a great user experience on mobile minimizing download speeds is vital.
- Promote via social networks
Sharing is caring! How often have you read that on a site? Making sharing on social networks is the name of the game. Your users are on them, and sharing sites via social networks, often from mobile to mobile. Make sure your mobile site encourages sharing and makes it easy for users on mobile to comment and like you site Be more social! Get linked-in, like Facebook, show interest in Pinterest and don’t be afraid to twitter on about your subject. The internet audience is fragmented more than ever, so to reach your audience you need to be accessible on all the channels they use to access the internet. The easier it is for users to interact with your mobile site, the more mobile users you will attract.