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A good user experience is essential for any website; the user should always be the main consideration when making design decisions. If people enjoy browsing the site and find the information they need easily, they are a lot more likely to revisit, bookmark, subscribe and link to you.
Here are some tips on improving usability and obtaining those links:
Improving the Navigation (Information Architecture)
Your site should be easy to navigate, a typical web user doesn’t have lots of patience when browsing the web and they will leave if they can’t find what they are looking for. For a business, you should link to all your main service pages from the Home page; this ensures the most important pages are easy to find. A blog on the other hand should have an easily recognisable structure (a back dated archive and category/tag links) and could link to related posts in each blog post.
Using keyword optimised links to other pages enables users to quickly see what the resulting page is about and it has an SEO benefit by improving your internal linking structure. The more people can find what they want, the easier it is for them to point other people to it via links.
Offering a way of subscribing to updates is a good way of reminding previous visitors about your site; this could be in the form of news, updates or recent site additions. Including an RSS feed or a newsletter to sign up to enables users to keep up to date with products, services or new posts. If your site is updated on a regular basis, previous visitors will be constantly updated; this can turn them into regular visitors who are advocates of your brand, and who love to link to your content.
Make Your Site Social
The boom in Social media is well documented and search engines including Google seem to be placing more and more authority on social links and mentions. Connecting your site to your social media streams allows users to find your various profiles (Twitter, Facebook etc.) and follow you; they can keep updated this way and can turn into regular visitors on your site.
You can add social buttons to individual resources, posts or the Home page of the website. Visitors can then easily share the information within their own social streams; straight away this can create many links and mentions for your site.
There are many resources online to gain feedback from your users, this could be in the form of a non-obtrusive pop up to ask users what you like or a link to a feedback form. The benefit of this method is that you can find out what visitors to your site would like to see and if they have any suggestions. You can then optimise your site to appeal to your audience.
This type of ego bait – involving your readers – is a great way for them to feel like a part of your community. In addition if you use their content or ideas, they are more likely to point to them.
People are much more likely to stay on a site and return if they enjoy the experience of having a nice design. With the relatively new Google addition of ‘Instant Previews’; web users are able to view the website without having to click through, a good solid design can improve the click through rate for the site.
A site with a good design can also attract links in the design community; there are many design gallery websites which you can submit the design to and these usually contain a link back to your website. Sometimes the site can appear on individual blogs and can spread through the social spaces. Design sites aren’t the best links out there (depending on the industry your site is in) but can increase brand mentions/citations and links via social media platforms.
If you implement all the above suggestions on your website; this should vastly improve the usability of the site and increase the interaction between you and your visitors. Visitors will keep coming back, new web users will find your site and links will be created. Just remember to provide value in each service you provide; visitors are much more likely to keep visiting if they find some sort of value in the site. Happy linking!