Ask the Expert: Ammar Badr Answers Your User Experience Questions
For our last DeepCrawl webinar, we were joined by Ammar Badr, Senior SEO Manager at RBBI, who sat down with DeepCrawl’s CAB Chairman Jon Myers to explore user-first optimisation and building an SEO user testing approach.
During the webinar with Ammar, so many brilliant questions were submitted by our audience and we have included Ammars’s insights into these in this post. Read on to find out what he has to say.
What is the key to successfully integrating SEO within the UX process?
It is important for SEO and UX teams to work together on every single step of the process.
The UX process typically starts with the research phase, where you would explore what both the user and the client wants. When working with SEO and UX clients, Ammar’s team will work together with the UX team at this point in the process in order to get the same brief and gain a clearer understanding.
This stage is typically where the information architecture of the website is decided, along with the content required and the typical user flow, as well as highlighting previous issues.
It is important for both the SEO and UX teams to be involved in this briefing to highlight both SEO and UX possibilities and limitations. SEOs also need to review wireframes once they have been designed, in order to define the content strategy, decide the different elements and components needed and ensure it is responsive.
The development process is also an important time for SEOs to be involved in, to ensure the technical build of the site is designed to be SEO focused, while also providing a positive user experience.
How do you go about finding users for the testing?
RBBI uses an agency that assist them with finding users who can take part in the tests, from a database already created. Ammar and his team will typically go to this agency with their list of requirements and personas they are looking to target. From here the agency will provide the profiles of potential users for the team to verify and choose from.
There are a number of agencies that provide this service with similar processes. Ammar recommends sharing the screener questions you have decided upon with the agency so they can recruit the most relevant user types. It is also important to understand the users profile when choosing them to take part in the testing, and have some back up users in case those chosen do not show up.
How do you ensure the heatmaps display the same information each time?
When working with heatmaps you need to ensure you have the same results page appearing every time. As each user will search for something slightly different, in order to get a valuable heatmap, there are several steps RBBI take:
First, they design a mockup of a Google results page, with the different elements they want to test. For example, this could be testing a knowledge graph or certain results against others to see where users are most likely to click. This method allows them to gain valuable insights and understand from the beginning what it is they want to find out from the heatmaps.
They use this together with an eye-tracking tool to ensure they can see the areas of the page the users are looking at, this helps to provide extra validation for the results.
Do you use any technology to perform and monitor the tests?
There are several useful UX tools and platforms which can help you when performing tests, but Ammar also highlighted that the user-focused interviews are just as successful as using these tools. Human to human interviews are also important and just as effective as using some of the expensive tools available.
What is the most important thing to consider when developing a UX friendly SEO project?
The most important thing is to maintain the value of the SEO tasks within the project. When working on UX projects, RBBI assesses whether a website is already performing well from an SEO perspective, particularly from the technical point of view.
Ammar recommends ensuring all of the fundamental SEO tasks are performed, particularly from a technical perspective.
Do the personas used in testing vary massively by client or industry?
The use of personas is to help to simulate how the users will think and to put yourself in the shoes of the user. This allows you to differentiate the type of audience you have in order to optimise your website for them. These personas are important for understanding search intent and help to optimise your site for the target audience.
Creating personas also enables you to think from a more human perspective when performing optimisation activities. This is a much more valuable way of performing SEO and helps users to feel like the website is targeted to them.
Personas can change slightly from client to client and industry to industry, but it’s important to optimise for all users together and not only for a specific persona.
If the testing day doesn’t work, what are your next steps?
If the tests you run do not provide many valuable insights, Ammar recommends changing some of the questions asked using the test, as well as rethinking your expectations from the user testing.
Do you have any tips for building the screener?
By using demographic reports you can gain valuable insights for building the screener, however, Ammar also recommends being selective when choosing the users who will be involved with the testing.
Rather than focusing on personal opinion, Ammar recommends basing your decisions on the data you have collected. He also suggests validating the questions and selected users with the client, as they are the most knowledgeable with regards to the target audience and overall website.
We’d like to say another big thank you to Ammar for taking the time to answer all of these questions and providing his expert insights on this topic.
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