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Design & UX | Evolve Digital Labs
Design & UX (User Experience) are important in digital marketing because, in a search engine’s eyes, a viewer’s experience determines the quality of the content and its structure.
SEM and Design: Why the disconnect?
Far too often, we come across brands that consider the design of a site and Search Engine Marketing two separate projects, and the resulting pages fail to contribute to the end goal: achieving leads. The three primary reasons a designer neglects to consider SEM and SEO prior to designing an entire website, a single page or collateral material for a site are Resources, Process, and Values.
1. Failure to Acquire Resources
This is a difficult issue to address because typically, search engine marketing and search engine optimization are believed to be additional components to a website or acceptable tactics for consideration after the website is finished. In reality, search engine strategy should be considered in the very beginning, with data (the voice of the customer) driving initial decisions and strategy. When handled in the correct way, the direction and certainty of keyword research provide a specific, linear path to visual success in a page’s design. Strategy and need should become dramatically less ambiguous, thus reducing the need for revisions based on visual messaging.
2. Preferred Design Process is Flawed
Regardless of the craft or expertise, injecting a new element to a seasoned professional’s process can be difficult, especially when that craft requires a creative and emotional connection to produce success. The larger the corporation the designer supports, the more levels of approval, therefore increasing the difficulty or likelihood of implementing data like keyword research. Designers and writers alike are communicators of ideas. These professionals of messaging have struggled with search since its inception of mainstream marketing. I’ve often heard that these communicators battle with the idea of a machine or data telling them what to say or how to design, but the irony is that it’s the targeted customers asking the questions. It is the customers who drive that data, the very people to whom we are supposed to be marketing, messaging, and ultimately helping.
3. Perception of Design’s Value is Skewed
The value of design is often dependent upon the specific brand and the artist. It’s a way to tap into the emotional elements of what the brand stands for and how the brain wishes to connect with this consumer. While some may argue that data creates interruption or unnecessary barriers of communication, these strategic initiatives cannot be ignored because they represent the voice of the customer. Search marketing and search engines have evolved drastically; there’s no longer a need, nor should there be a practice or recommendation, to oversaturate a page with unnecessary vernacular exclusively using data based on the voice of the customer. In the same way, every brand has style guides specifying which fonts or colors to use, customer-produced data from the search engines can also be guidelines, acting as a litmus for consideration when developing websites for developing content when designing landing pages and designing messaging.
How to fix it
There are a few possible remedies to three interrupters of incorporating search marketing into the world of design. Step 1: Provide the necessary information with the project assignment. Keyword research and visitor data isn’t an afterthought. It should be baked into the visual concepts, then tested through behavior online. Step 2: Develop a process to incorporate Search data into the design. This action is as simple as validating data and desired outcomes during the rounds of revision to ensure that all the essential communication points and consumer needs are being met. Step 3: Create search marketing guidelines. These guidelines can be incorporated into the value of the brand thought leader, educator, or advocate. There’s a way to align how people search and what they are searching for into the basic guidelines of how you communicate with people online.
Written by Ian Miller, one of Evolve’s summer interns Imagine that you have the option of reading a textbook that provides complicated statistics in paragraph form or viewing an image that shows a graphic analysis of the same stats. Which would you choose? While each might have its advantages, the majority of us would go with the infographic over the text.
Let’s Face It. We Love Pictures.
Visuals not only result in a more interesting article, but they also make for great SEO too. Several factors contribute to the importance of images. The first is, naturally, that people like pictures. Visuals alongside text help people understand the content. In fact, according to this study (which ironically doesn’t include images), pictures help people learn in both the imagery and verbal parts of the brain. So not only are people more engaged in your post, they’re learning more!
Words can only get you so far in some situations. Sometimes a graphic can allow readers to see the whole picture. For instance, wouldn’t you rather quickly view the graphs to the left than reading: “In 2008, customer satisfaction was at 68%. In 2009, it was 60%. In 2010, it was 83%. In 2011…”? I thought so. Pictures deliver an overview of your page so your readers can efficiently grab important information from your grab content.
What about the SEO?
So now you know how pictures can attract readers to your articles, but how will they help your SEO ventures? Well, it might require a bit more work on your part, but your efforts will pay off! It is essential to name your images effectively; be sure to include relevant keywords in each file name. Remember, these images are indexed by search engines and can provide inbound links if properly titled. Finally, use descriptive alt text, which for an image is equivalent to the anchor text of a link. Alt text is relevant to the engines and humans alike, as it describes keywords. (Confused as to what I’m talking about? We explain this in Chapter 9 of our SEO Guide for Beginners.)
Don’t Abuse Your Power.
As the author of a blog post, it’s your responsibility to provide visuals that support the article. Rather than choosing the first page results of iStock for what you’re trying to convey, you can search on Flickr for images with a creative commons license or even snap a photo yourself. If you can’t seem to find a visual to pair with your article, take a few minutes to rework the post, add an analogy or reference, so it can be supplemented with a relevant photo that will increase reader engagement. Additionally, you have the power to decide how many pictures to include on your page. While an appropriate number of images can assist the reader, too many can be distracting. Overuse of images can divert people from the point of your article. I’ll leave you with a Pro Tip: the best bloggers see their sites as digital equity, so clicking the “publish” button doesn’t necessarily signify the end of the road for a particular post. Once you’ve strengthened your articles with useful visuals, it’s imperative that you:
- share your insight via social networks, and
- find ways to repurpose the information you’ve harnessed.
An example of the second tip would be to reformat the data, process, or opinion into an aesthetically pleasing infographic. Then pour yourself a cup of strong coffee, don your noise-canceling headphones, and start link building. In essence, it’s all about using your publishing power wisely. If you write for humans, not search engines, you should put a proper amount of “oomph” and effort into each post you promote. Effectively utilizing visuals on your blog posts can yield a return for your hard work. And we love a good ROI.