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March 20, 2023 (Updated: May 4, 2023)
Usually heatmap tools are touted by PPC experts and CRO-focused consultants, but popular Japanese SEO blogger Kenichi Suzuki brought two interesting case studies during Austin’s Pubcon conference in his session “SEO and UX: SEO is all about User eXperience.”
Armed with hands on examples, he laid out two very intriguing applications of heatmap technology that could give SEOs an extra weapon in their arsenal for their on-page optimizations. While he used his own company’s Japanese language only heatmap tool, he suggested in the Q&A session to give Microsoft’s free Clarity analytics tool a chance in this role.
In his first case study, he reviewed the scroll behavior of visitors to the article. The read heatmap showed the largest amount of engagement was actually with a portion of content sitting almost at the bottom of the page instead of at the top of the article.
So they changed the structure, changing the order of paragraphs in the text, and found that this had a significant impact on the amount of traffic interacting with the call-to-action section at the end of the article! There was a dramatic increase in signups and activity on the CTA button, moving the usage from absolute 0% to 1.32% of traffic.
This also made them re-evaluate the meta title and header usage, because this aspect of the article was so popular. They also changed the title to match the more popular section. While Kenichi was refreshingly quick to remind the conference attendees that Correlation doesn’t equal Causation, he was able to share that these changes lead to significant improvements to rankings for their target keyword phrase—rising from position 28 to number one over the course of the next six months.
It would be fair to say that most SEOs don’t think very much about images, aside from making sure that they have appropriate file names, title, and alt attributes.
Kenichi’s second case study brings to light that the role of images can actually directly impact your content’s ability to retain visitors, giving you a better outcome for your calls to action to turn eyeballs into dollar signs. He reviewed the “Scroll” interaction of visitors to an article and realized that they had a problem with a particular image on the page.
They modified the H1 of the page, the opening sentence, and the copy on the image, so they were no longer duplicate. Not only did they increase the percentage of users by 24% who scrolled further down the page, but they also saw a ranking improvement for a relevant keyword phrase that put them on the first page.
Again, leavening expectations for replicating the process by re-iterating that correlation doesn’t always prove causation, I think SEOs can all see the wisdom behind adding a review of your content performance outside of the single metric of keyword performance to discover areas for improvement. Utilize best practices for user experience to increase the depth of interaction and improve the percentage of users who stay on-page. This, in turn, will improve your content’s performance in a positively cyclical fashion as your edits appeal better to searchers and search engines as well.