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How to Search Engine Optimize Your Blog Content

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How to Search Engine Optimize Your Blog Content

56% of surveyed consumers have made a purchase from a company after reading their blog and 10% of marketers who use blogging say it generates the biggest return on investment. If you’re writing a blog for a business, those stats make blog SEO a pretty big deal.

Even if you’re blogging just for fun, SEO can help you boost your message and connect with more engaged readers.

But what is blog SEO? And how can you optimize your blog for search engines? Get ready for an in-depth exploration into the world of keywords, backlinks, and content optimization.

Start reading, or click a topic below to jump to the section you’re looking for:

What is blog SEO?

Blog SEO is the practice of creating and updating a blog to improve search engine rankings. This approach usually includes keyword research, link building, image optimization, and content writing.

When you optimize your web pages — including your blog posts — you’re making your website more visible to people who are using search engines (like Google) to find your product or service. But does your blog content really help your business organically rank on search engines?

Why does blogging improve search engine optimization?

Google and other search engines use ranking factors to figure out what results come up for each search query. It also decides how to rank those results. Blogging can help you optimize your site for important Google ranking factors like:

Organic Click-Through Rate

Blogging helps you create relevant content for more keywords than other kinds of pages do, which can improve your organic clicks.

For example, a person who clicks on a landing page usually has transactional intent. This means that person is clicking because they’re ready to convert.

But people search online for many different reasons. And a blog has the potential to answer navigational, informational, and transactional search queries. Creating content for more types of search can increase clicks to your pages, which can improve your SEO.

Index Coverage

Google can’t rank a page that it hasn’t indexed. Indexing means a search engine finds content and adds it to its index. Later, the page can be retrieved and displayed in the SERP when a user searches for keywords related to the indexed page.

So, it’s important to create relevant and link-worthy content to encourage Google to crawl your site pages. One way to do this is to constantly add fresh content to your site. A blog gives you a reason to post new content to your site on a regular basis, which encourages more frequent indexing.

Backlinks

When other websites link to pages on your website it shows search engines that your content is useful and authoritative. Backlinks are a sort of peer review system online. If your blog gets backlinks from respected sites, it’s more likely that your website will rank in search results.

Because blog posts are likely to educate or inform users, they tend to attract more quality backlinks.

Internal Links

When you link from one page on your site to another, you’re creating a clear path for users to follow. Internal links can also make it easier for people to find the content on your site they’re looking for. These links also help search engine crawlers figure out the organization of your site.

A blog creates more site pages that you can link to internally. It also gives you a chance to direct site traffic to other pages that can help your users.

For example, say you run a lawn maintenance company and offer lawn mowing services. Someone searching for a lawn mower wouldn’t find your services online because that’s not what they’re looking for (yet).

But say you write blogs about the best lawnmowers, lawn mowing challenges, or pest control for lawns. Those posts make your website easier to find. And if someone looking for lawn mowers decides they want an easier option, they could be a good candidate for your services. You can help them visit other pages on your site through internal links.

These are just a few of the many reasons that blogging is good for SEO. Blogging lets you share useful information with your audience. It can draw new customers and engage current customers. Creating a blog can help you build trust, boost sales and leads, and improve your search engine optimization.

What is blog SEO strategy?

Blog SEO strategy is a comprehensive plan to improve organic search results. This plan might include competitive research, keyword lists, or an optimization proposal.

Search engines make frequent updates. Business goals can change quickly too. But it can take an average of three to six months for a post to rank on Google. Without a strategy, you might find yourself investing in your blog but not seeing a boost in SEO.

A strategy can help you measure whether your ideas and efforts are effective. It can also help you make the most of your team’s time and resources. This post can help you develop your SEO strategy if you’re not sure where to start.

Blog SEO Best Practices

1. Identify the target audience for your blog.

No matter what industry your blog targets, you’ll want to find and speak to the primary audience that will be reading your content. Understanding who your audience is and what you want them to do when they click on your article will help guide your blog strategy.

Blog SEO best practices example: Buyer persona template

Download this Template

Buyer personas are an effective way to target readers using their buying behaviors, demographics, and psychographics. Without this insight, you could be producing grammatically correct and accurate content that few people will click on because it doesn’t speak to them on a personal level.

2. Conduct keyword research.

Now that you’ve selected your target audience and prepared a buyer persona, it’s time to find out what content your readers want to consume. Keyword research can be a heavy task to take on if you don’t begin with a strategy. Therefore, I recommend starting with the topics your blog will cover, then expand or contract your scope from there. For an in-depth tutorial, check out our how-to guide on keyword research.

3. Add visuals.

Search engines like Google value visuals for certain keywords. Images and videos are among the most common visual elements that appear on the search engine results page.

Blog SEO best practices example: Visual example from HubSpot Customer Journey blog

In order to achieve a coveted spot in an image pack or a video snippet, you’ll want to design creative graphics, use original photos and videos, and add descriptive alt text to every visual element within your blog post.

Alt text is a major factor that determines whether or not your image or video appears in the SERP and how highly it appears. Alt text is also important for screen readers so that visually impaired individuals have a positive experience consuming content on your blog site.

4. Write a catchy title.

The title of your blog post is the first element a reader will see when they come across your article, and it heavily influences whether they’ll click or keep scrolling. A catchy title uses data, asks a question, or leads with curiosity to pique the reader’s interest.

According to Coscheduler’s Headline Analyzer, the elements of a catchy title include power, emotional, uncommon, and common words. In the right proportions, these types of words in a blog title will grab your readers’ attention and keep them on the page.

Here’s an example of a catchy title with a Coschedule Headline Analyzer Score of 87:

The Perfect Dress Has 3 Elements According to This Popular Fashion Expert

Coschedule headline analyzer tool analyzing a headline with a score of 87

  • Highlighted in yellow are common words. They’re familiar to the reader and don’t stray too far from other titles that may appear in the SERP.
  • “Expert” is an emotional word, according to Coschedule. In this example, the word expert builds trust with the reader and tells them that this article has an authoritative point of view.
  • Purple words are power words — this means they capture the readers’ attention and get them curious about the topic.
  • Another element in this title is the number three. This signals to the reader that they’ll learn a specific amount of facts about the perfect dress.

5. Include an enticing CTA.

What’s a blog post without a call to action? The purpose of a CTA is to lead your reader to the next step in their journey through your blog. The key to a great CTA is that it’s relevant to the topic of your existing blog post and flows naturally with the rest of the content. Whether you’re selling a product, offering a newsletter subscription, or wanting the reader to consume more of your content, you’ll need an enticing CTA on every blog post you publish.

CTAs come in all types of formats, so get creative and experiment with them. Buttons, hyperlinks, and widgets are some of the most common CTAs, and they all have different purposes. For instance, you should add a bold, visible CTA like a button if you want the reader to make a purchase. On the other hand, you can easily get a reader to check out another blog post by providing a hyperlink to it at the conclusion of the current article.

6. Focus on the reader’s experience.

Any great writer or SEO will tell you that the reader experience is the most important part of a blog post. The reader experience includes several factors like readability, formatting, and page speed. That means you’ll want to write content that’s clear, comprehensive of your topic, and accurate according to the latest data and trends.

Organizing the content using headings and subheadings is important as well because it helps the reader scan the content quickly to find the information they need. Finally, on-page elements like images and videos have an impact on page speed. Keep image file sizes low (250 KB is a good starting point) and limit the number of videos you embed on a single page.

By focusing on what the reader wants to know and organizing the post to achieve that goal, you’ll be on your way to publishing an article optimized for the search engine.

Factors That Affect Blog SEO

Although it’s clear blog content does contribute to your SEO, Google’s many algorithm updates can make publishing the right kind of blog content tricky if you don’t know where to start. Some blog ranking factors have stood the test of time while others are considered “old-school.” Here are a few of the top-ranking factors that can, directly and indirectly, affect blog SEO.

1. Dwell Time

Although dwell time is an indirect ranking factor for Google, it’s a critical factor in the user experience — and we know that user experience is king when it comes to SEO.

Dwell time is the length of time a reader spends on a page on your blog site. From the moment a visitor clicks on your site in the SERP, to the moment they exit the page is considered dwell time.

This metric indirectly tells search engines like Google how valuable your content is to the reader. It makes sense that the longer they spend on the page, the more relevant it is to them.

However, there’s a reason this metric is an indirect indicator for SEO — it’s completely subjective. The search engine algorithms don’t know your content strategy.

Your blog could be focused on short-form content that takes just a minute or two to read. You might also include pertinent information at the beginning of your blog posts to give the best reader experience, which means less time spent on the page.

So yes, dwell time can affect SEO, but don’t manipulate your content to change this metric if it doesn’t make sense for your content strategy. HubSpot allows you to publish quality content with a free blog maker that widens your brand’s reach and grows your audience.

2. Page Speed

We mentioned earlier that visual elements on your blog can affect page speed, but that isn’t the only thing that can move this needle. Unnecessary code and overuse of plugins can also contribute to a sluggish blog site.

Removing junk code can help your pages load faster, thus improving page speed. If you’re not sure how to find and remove junk code, check out HTML-Cleaner. It’s an easy-to-use tool that doesn’t require coding knowledge. It simply shows you the unnecessary code and lets you remove it with the click of a button.

I also recommend taking an inventory of your blog site plugins. Decide which ones you need to keep your blog running day-to-day and which ones were installed as a fix for a temporary issue. Plugins that affect the front end of your site are a threat to page speed, and odds are, you can uninstall more of these plugins than you think to increase your overall site speed.

3. Mobile Responsiveness

More than half of Google’s search traffic in the United States comes from mobile devices. On an individual level, your blog site might follow that same trend. There’s no way around it — optimizing your blog site for mobile is a factor that will affect your SEO metrics.

But what exactly does it mean to optimize a website for mobile? The industry rule of thumb is to keep things simple. Most pre-made site themes these days are already mobile-friendly, so all you’ll need to do is tweak a CTA button here and enlarge a font size there.

Then, keep an eye on how your site is performing on mobile by taking a look at your Google Analytics dashboard and running a mobile site speed test regularly.

4. Index Date

Search engines aim to provide the most relevant and accurate information available. A factor search engines use when determining what’s relevant and accurate is the date a search engine indexes the content.

You might be wondering: Is the date the content was indexed the same as the date it was published?

The answer: yes and no. If a blog post is published for the first time, it’s likely that a Google crawler will index that post the same day you publish it. But content can be backdated for several legitimate reasons, too, like archiving information or updating a sentence or two.

One way to positively affect this SEO factor is to implement a historical optimization strategy. This strategy works well on blogs that have been established for a few years and have a fair amount of content already.

By updating these older posts with new perspectives and data, you’ll be able to significantly impact your blog SEO without creating a lot of net new content. Site crawlers will reindex the page — taking into account the updated content — and give it another opportunity to compete in the SERP. It’s truly a win-win.

5. Recent Data

Recent data, another indirect ranking factor of SEO, should be included in blog posts. Recent data gives visitors relevant and accurate information which makes for a positive reader experience.

When you include a link to a credible site that has original, up-to-date data, you’re telling the search engine that this site is helpful and relevant to your readers (which is a plus for that other site). You’re also telling the search engine that this type of data is in some way related to the content you publish. Over time, your readers will come to appreciate the content which can be confirmed using other metrics like increased time on page or lower bounce rate.

Sign up here to take our free Content Marketing Certification course and learn about content creation, strategy, and promotion.

Pro tip: As a rule of thumb, take time to understand what each of these factors does, but don’t try to implement them all at once. They each serve a specific purpose and should be used to meet a specific SEO goal for your blog. Listen to HubSpot’s Matt Barby and Victor Pan take on this topic in this podcast episode.

HubSpot Podcast episode about SEO featuring Victor Pan and Matt Barby

1. Choose blog topics with keyword research.

Your blog topics should start with your customers’ most important questions and concerns. But if you want those customers to find your content, you need to use the same keywords that they use to find answers. You can find these words with keyword research.

Keyword research can also help you find new topics to write about and grab the interest of new audiences.

As you search for the right keywords for your blog, think about search intent. While some people are searching for your products to use right away, others may be at a different point in the buyer journey. So, it’s a good idea to have a mix of focus keywords.

Keyword tools can help you find and narrow down your list of keywords so that you’re writing the right blogs for your target audience.

2. Write a compelling blog post title.

Writing titles is tough. Many blog writers spend time writing a blog post then quickly add a title when they’re done and hope for the best. But blog titles have a bigger impact than you might think.

First, titles tell your audience what to expect from your post. If your blog title is a smart and catchy question that your post doesn’t answer, you’ll have a lot of unhappy readers.

Next, your blog title is what makes searchers want to read your post. It doesn’t matter how well-written and researched a blog post is if the title doesn’t spark interest.

Title Tag

Finally, titles are essential for blog SEO. This is a place to feature your keywords in an authentic way. Google calls this the “title tag” in a search result.

Be sure to include your keyword within the first 60 characters of your title, which is just about where Google cuts titles off on the SERP. Technically, Google measures by pixel width, not character count. It recently increased the pixel width for organic search results from approximately 500 pixels to 600 pixels, which translates to around 60 characters.

Long title tag? When you have a lengthy headline, it’s a good idea to get your keyword in the beginning since it might get cut off in SERPs toward the end, which can take a toll on your post’s perceived relevance.

In the example below, we had a long title that went over 65 characters, so we placed the keyword near the front.

Search engine result link with a keyword-optimized title

It’s also important to look at the SERP results for your keyword when you’re writing your post titles. This research will help you understand the most popular results for your keywords. It will also give you a better sense of what searchers are hoping to find when they click on your post.

As you write your blog titles, use words that have emotional appeal. You might want to add numbers or statistics to emphasize a point. Avoid salesy language or your post might seem like spam. These title tips offer more advice for creating great blog titles.

3. Outline your blog post with SEO in mind.

If you’re used to writing blog posts from your imagination with a free flow of ideas, blog SEO might sound like a challenge. But anyone can create great SEO writing with a strong outline.

An outline can help you organize your ideas around your target keywords. It can also give you a space to figure out the best spot to include the features that make a blog post great like:

  • Videos
  • Statistics
  • Quotes
  • Internal and external links

The outline is an important creative step where you decide the angle and goal of your blog post. You already have a great post title, so your next step is to outline how your post will cover the topic. You can create a detailed outline or a quick overview, whichever is best for you.

That said, an outline is a great space to write each of your headers. Writing these during your outline can make the process of drafting your blog go more smoothly.

4. Use keywords strategically throughout the blog post.

Now it’s time to incorporate your keywords into your blog post. But where is the best place to include these terms so you rank high in search results?

There are two more essential places where you should try to include your keywords: headers & body and URL.

Headers & Body

Mention your keyword at a normal cadence throughout the body of your post and in the headers. That means including your keywords in your copy, but only in a natural, reader-friendly way. Don’t go overboard at the risk of being penalized for keyword stuffing.

Before you start writing a new blog post, you’ll think about how to incorporate your keywords into your headers and post. That’s a smart idea, but it shouldn’t be your only focus, nor even your primary focus.

Whenever you create content, your primary focus should be on what matters to your audience, not how many times you can include a keyword or keyword phrase in that content.

Focus on being helpful and answering whatever question your customer might’ve asked to arrive on your post. Do that, and you’ll naturally optimize for important keywords, anyway.

URL

Search engines also look at your URL to figure out what your post is about, and it’s one of the first things it’ll crawl on a page.

You have a huge opportunity to optimize your URLs on every post you publish, as every post lives on its unique URL — so make sure you include your one to two keywords in it.

In the example below, we created the URL using the keyword “positioning-statement” because we want to rank for it.

Search engine result link with a keyword-optimized URL

As you write, keep in mind that your copy matters a great deal for click-through rates. This is because it should satisfy your readers’ intent — the more engaging, the better.

5. Make sure your blog post covers your topic completely.

Blog SEO is more than including focus and supporting keywords in your post. You’ll want to make each post as comprehensive as possible to make sure it answers your readers’ questions.

But what does comprehensive mean? For some, it’s a matter of word count. According to HubSpot research, a blog post should be about 2,100-2,400 words long for SEO.

It’s easier for longer content to rank, but not every post needs to be 2000+ words. What’s most important is meeting your users’ needs and expectations with your post.

A few ways to create the best blogs for your audience include:

  • Checking out your buyer personas
  • Research your topic on and offline
  • Talk to customers and experts about your topic
  • Stick to your topic as you write
  • Write in a consistent voice
  • Double-check facts and statistics

This article is a great place to start if you want more tips on how to write a great blog post.

6. Add SEO-optimized images and videos.

Blog posts shouldn’t only contain text — they should also include images and other media that help explain and support your content.

Images make your blog posts more exciting and easy to understand. They help your readers engage, improve recall of important facts, and make your site more accessible. Videos and GIFs are other interesting and useful additions to your blog posts. They make your content more visual, interactive, and memorable.

To use images and other media with SEO in mind, there are a few important things to remember.

File size matters. Too-large images and GIFs can slow down your page speed, which can impact ranking. It’s also important that your image dimensions are consistent for a professional look.

Choose the right kind of content for your brand voice. Funny GIFs are a great choice for some blogs, but if they don’t feel right to your audience they can have a negative impact.

Ideally, your images should make it easier to understand difficult topics or new information. This will boost your SEO and create a better on-page experience. Check out this post for more image SEO tips.

7. Include image alt text.

Search engines don’t simply look for images. Rather, they look for images with image alt text.

You may be wondering why this is. Since search engines can’t “see” images the same way humans can, an image’s alt text tells the search engine what an image is about. This ultimately helps those images rank on the search engine’s images results page.

Image alt text also makes for a better user experience (UX). It displays inside the image container when an image can’t be found or displayed. Technically, alt text is an attribute that can be added to an image tag in HTML.

Here’s what a complete image tag might look like:

<img class="wt-blog__normal-image" src="https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/image.jpg" alt="image-description" title="image tooltip">

When you incorporate image alt text, an image’s name in your blog may go from something like, “IMG23940” to something accurate and descriptive such as “puppies playing in a basket.”

how to optimize your images with image alt text

Image alt text should be descriptive in a helpful way — meaning, it should provide the search engine with context to index the image if it’s in a blog article related to a similar topic.

To provide more context, here’s a list of things to be sure you keep in mind when creating alt text for your blog’s images:

  • Describe the image
  • Leave out “image of… “— start with the image description instead
  • Be specific in your description
  • Keep it under 125 characters
  • Use your keywords (but avoid keyword stuffing)

Pro tip: Think about adding a Chrome extension like Arel=”noopener” target=”_blank” hrefs that allows you to quickly review alt text data for existing images. HubSpot customers can use the SEO Panel. It will recognize whether or not you have optimized your images.

the seo panel for images in hubspot

8. Link to related blog posts.

You may have heard that backlinks influence how high your blog site can rank in the SERP, and that’s true — backlinks show how trustworthy your site is based on how many other relevant sites link back to yours. But backlinks aren’t the end-all-be-all to link building. Linking to and from your own blog posts can have a positive impact on how well your blog site ranks, too.

Inbound links to your content help show search engines the validity or relevancy of your content. The same goes for linking internally to other pages on your website. If you’ve written about a topic that’s mentioned in your blog post on another blog post, ebook, or web page, it’s a best practice to link to that page.

(You might’ve noticed that I’ve been doing that from time to time throughout this blog post when I think it’s helpful for our readers.) Not only will internal linking help keep visitors on your website, but it also surfaces your other relevant and authoritative pages to search engines.

For example, if your blog is about fashion, you might cover fabrics as a topic. Adding a hyperlink from a blog post about cotton to a post about the proper way to mix fabrics can help both of those posts become more visible to readers who search these keywords.

The search engines will also have one more entry point to the post about cotton when you hyperlink it in the post about mixing fabrics. This means the post about cotton fabric, and any updates you make to it will be recognized by site crawlers faster. It could even see a boost in the SERP as a result.

HubSpot customers: The SEO Panel automatically suggests linking to other internal resources on your website.

You can think of this as solving for your SEO while also helping your visitors get more information from your content.

9. Optimize the meta description.

A meta description is additional text that appears in SERPs that lets readers know what the link is about. The meta description gives searchers the information they need to determine whether or not your content is what they’re looking for and ultimately helps them decide if they’ll click or not.

The maximum length of this meta description is greater than it once was — now around 300 characters — suggesting it wants to give readers more insight into what each result will give them.

So, in addition to being reader-friendly (compelling and relevant), your meta description should include the long-tail keyword for which you are trying to rank.

In the following example, I searched for “email newsletter examples.”

Google result link with extended meta description

The term is bolded in the meta description, helping readers make the connection between the intent of their search term and this result.

In this example I searched for the term “HTML space.”

Blog SEO example: Meta description optimization

You see the terms “space” and “HTML” bolded, indicating that Google knows there’s a semantic connection between “HTML space” and the words “space” and “HTML” in the meta description.

Note: Nowadays, it’s not guaranteed that your meta description is always pulled into SERPs as it once was. As you can see in the above image, Google pulls in other parts of your blog post that includes the keywords searched, presumably to give searchers optimal context around how the result matches their specific query.

Let me show you another example. Below are two different search queries delivering two different snippets of text on Google SERPs. The first is a result of the query “no index no follow,” and it pulls in an explanation of the term “noindex.”:

example of a meta description on Google

The second is a result of the query “noindex nofollow,” and pulls in the first instance of these specific keywords coming up in the body of the blog post:

example of a meta description on Google

While there’s not much you can do to influence what text gets pulled in, you should continue to optimize this metadata, as well as your post, so search engines display the best content from the article. By creating reader-friendly content with natural keyword inclusion, you’ll make it easier for Google to prove your post’s relevancy in SERPs for you.

10. Review metrics regularly.

Google’s free Search Console contains reports that help you understand how users search for and discover your content. These reports help you analyze clicks from Google Search — it’s useful to determine which keywords people are using to find your blog content.

You can learn how to use Google Search Console by checking out Google’s performance reports page.

If you’re interested in optimizing your best-performing older blog posts for traffic and leads like we’ve been doing since 2015, this tool can help you find low-hanging fruit.

Line graph showing keyword performance on Google Search Console

Remember, many content marketers struggle with optimizing their blog posts for search. The truth is, your blog posts won’t start ranking immediately. It takes time to build up search authority.

But, when you publish blog posts frequently and consistently optimize them for search while maintaining an intent-based reader experience, you’ll reap the rewards in the form of traffic and leads long-term.

Now, let’s take a look at these blog SEO tips that you can take advantage of to enhance your content’s searchability.

Note: This list doesn’t cover every SEO rule under the sun. Rather, the following tips are the on-page factors to get you started with an SEO strategy for your blog.

1. Use 1–2 long-tail keywords.

Optimizing your blog posts for keywords isn’t about incorporating as many keywords into your posts as possible. Nowadays, this actually hurts your SEO because search engines consider this keyword stuffing (as in, including keywords as much as possible with the sole purpose of ranking highly in organic search).

It also doesn’t make for a good reader experience — a ranking factor that search engines now prioritize to ensure you’re answering the intent of your visitors. Therefore, you should use keywords in your content in a way that doesn’t feel unnatural or forced.

A good rule of thumb is to focus on one or two long-tail keywords per blog post. While you can use more than one keyword in a single post, keep the focus of the post narrow enough to allow you to spend time optimizing for just one or two keywords.

You may be wondering: Why long-tail keywords?

These longer, often question-based keywords keep your post focused on the specific goals of your audience. For example, the long-tail keyword “how to write a blog post” is much more impactful in terms of SEO than the short keyword “blog post”.

Website visitors searching long-tail keywords are more likely to read the whole post and then seek more information from you. In other words, they’ll help you generate the right type of traffic — visitors who convert.

2. Create SEO personas.

Most businesses have buyer personas, but you can make your blog even more searchable and relevant with SEO personas.

This strategy isn’t just for boosting SEO visibility. It can help you focus your time and resources on the traffic that can boost your business. This is a data-driven strategy that can help you understand the keyword themes and search habits of your target audience.

Once you understand these details, it will be easier to choose which topics to prioritize in your blog SEO strategy. As you create your SEO personas, you’ll want to answer questions like:

  • How does your target audience use social media?
  • How do your ideal users respond to paid advertising?
  • Do they take part in groups, forums, or message boards online?

These details can help you understand how your users search and what types of content they’ll respond to online. This can help you boost traffic, leads, and conversions while also optimizing for SEO.

This presentation from Rory Hope at INBOUND 22 shares how you can use your social media data to create SEO personas for your blog.

3. Consider mobile devices.

We learned earlier that more people use search engines from their mobile phones than from a computer. According to HubSpot Research, 64% of SEO marketers say that mobile optimization is an effective investment.

And for all those valuable queries on mobile devices, Google displays the mobile-friendly results first. This is yet another example of Google heavily favoring mobile-friendly websites — which has been true ever since the company updated its algorithm in April 2015.

(HubSpot customers: Breathe easy. All content created on HubSpot’s platform is automatically responsive to mobile devices.)

So, how do you keep your blog mobile-friendly? By using responsive design. Websites that are responsive to mobile allow blog pages to have just one URL instead of two — one for desktop and one for mobile, respectively. This helps your post’s SEO because any inbound links that come back to your site won’t be divided between the separate URLs.

As a result, you’ll centralize the SEO power you gain from these links, helping Google more easily recognize your post’s value and rank it accordingly.

Pro tip: What search engines value is constantly changing. Be sure you’re keeping on top of these changes by subscribing to Google’s official blog.

4. Make the most of the SEO tools and features in your CMS.

The right CMS can help you improve blog SEO. Whether you’re building a new blog post or updating site pages, the more built-in features you have the easier it will be to optimize for SEO.

SEO is complex, so the features you’ll need will depend on your level of expertise and how often you post to your blog.

For example, the HubSpot CMS has robust SEO features that can help you build or optimize your blog. If your site already has a lot of blog posts, a tool that can scan live pages for recommendations is a must-have. If you’re just starting to blog, alt text popup prompts could be more useful for you.

Blog SEO tips, examples: HubSpot CMS SEO tool

Another challenge bloggers struggle with is finding post topics. The HubSpot SEO tool can give you suggestions with competition, popularity, and relevance in mind. It also gives you access to monthly search keyword data. This can help you understand how specific topics can increase your organic traffic. This tool offers detailed reports so you can track your results and update your SEO strategy quickly.

CMS integrations are also important. For example, HubSpot’s page publishing tools connect to Google Search Console. This makes it easy for you to see your top search queries, impressions, click-through rate, and more for every page on your site.

5. Focus on readability.

One of the most common beginner blog mistakes is assuming that the people who land on your blog will read it thoroughly. Instead, most readers are looking for a quick answer to a question. When they find your post, their goal is to find what they’re looking for.

Readable content is easy to consume and quick to skim. It’s also a delight to read — offering clear answers and a logical path from question to answer. Readability improves the chances that your readers will engage with your content. It helps you make sure that they’ll look to your blog as an authority in your industry.

Besides improving the user experience on your blog, readability impacts SEO by making it easier for Google to crawl your posts. It also increases the potential that users will find your blog with voice searches.

There are many ways that you can improve readability. Vocabulary choices, sentence and paragraph length, and the structure of your blog posts can all make your posts more readable. A few strategies to improve readability include:

  • Use short and simple words
  • Write short sentences
  • Limit jargon, adjectives, and adverbs

Tools like Hemingway Editor offer a score that can help you understand how easy your copy is to read and how to improve it.

Blog SEO tips, examples: Readability tool

You can also make your blogs easier to consume by adding useful images and videos or choosing colors and fonts that are easy on the eyes.

6. Limit topic tags.

Topic tags can help organize your blog content, but if you overuse them, they can actually be harmful. If you have too many similar tags, you may get penalized by search engines for having duplicate content.

Think of it this way, when you create a topic tag (which is simple if you’re a HubSpot user, as seen here), you also create a new site page where the content from those topic tags will appear.

If you use too many similar tags for the same content, it appears to search engines as if you’re showing the content multiple times throughout your website. For example, topic tags like “blogging,” “blog,” and “blog posts” are too similar to one another to be used on the same post.

If you’re worried that your current blog posts have too many similar tags, take some time to clean them up. Choose about 15–25 topic tags that you think are important to your blog and that aren’t too similar to one another. Then only tag your posts with those keywords. That way, you won’t have to worry about duplicate content.

Here at HubSpot, we use a Search Insights Report to map specific MSV-driven keyword ideas to a content topic each quarter. The process helps us target a handful of posts in a set number of topics throughout the year for a systematic approach to SEO and content creation.

7. Create user-friendly URLs.

Before you publish your blog post, take a careful look at its URL structure. Is it long, filled with stop-words, or unrelated to the post’s topic? If so, you might want to rewrite it before it goes live.

The URL structure of your web pages (which are different from the specific URLs of your posts) should make it easy for your visitors to understand the structure of your website and the content they’re about to see. Search engines favor web page URLs that make it easier for them and website visitors to understand the content on the page.

This differentiation is baked into the HubSpot blogs’ respective URL structures. If I decided to go to the Marketing section from this main page, I would be taken to the URL http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing.

If we want to read the Sales section, all we have to do is change where it says “marketing” in the URL to “sales”:

http://blog.hubspot.com/sales.

This URL structure helps me understand that “/marketing” and “/sales” are smaller sections — called subdirectories — within the larger blog.

What if there’s a specific article we want to read, such as “How to Do Keyword Research: A Beginner’s Guide”?

Its URL structure — http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/how-to-do-keyword-research-ht — denotes that it’s an article from the Marketing section of the blog.

In this way, URL structure acts as a categorization system for readers, letting them know where they are on the website and how to access new site pages. Search engines appreciate this, as it makes it easier for them to identify exactly what information searchers will access on different parts of your blog or website.

Pro tip: Don’t change your blog post URL after it’s been published — that’s the easiest way to press the metaphorical “reset” button on your SEO efforts for that post. If your URL is less descriptive than you’d like or it no longer follows your brand or style guidelines, your best bet is to leave it as is. Instead, change the title of the post using the guidelines we covered earlier.

8. Organize by topic cluster.

The way most blogs are currently structured (including our own blogs, until very recently), bloggers and SEOs have worked to create individual blog posts that rank for specific keywords.

This makes things unorganized and difficult for blog visitors to find the exact information they need. It also results in your URLs competing against one another in search engine rankings when you produce multiple blog posts about similar topics.

Here’s what our blog architecture used to look like using this old playbook:

Flowchart of HubSpot's topic cluster SEO model

Now, to rank in search and best answer the new types of queries searchers are submitting, the solution is the topic cluster model.

For this model to work, choose the broad topics for which you want to rank. Then, create content based on specific keywords related to that topic that all link to each other to establish broader search engine authority.

This is what our blog infrastructure looks like now, with the topic cluster model. Specific topics are surrounded by blog posts related to the greater topic, connected to other URLs in the cluster with hyperlinks:

A set of topic clusters for SEO

This model uses a more deliberate site architecture to organize and link URLs together to help more pages on your site rank in Google — and to help searchers find information on your site more easily. This architecture consists of three components — pillar content, cluster content, and hyperlinks:

SEO model using icons for pillar content, cluster content, and hyperlinks

We know this is a fairly new concept, so for more details, check out our research on the topic or take our SEO training.

9. Optimize for SERP features.

There are more than just organic page results on Google. Instead, each search engine results page (SERP) includes a range of different features to help users find what they’re looking for. For example, the People also ask feature highlights questions that relate to the users’ initial search request, like in the example below:

Blog SEO tip examples: SERP feature optimization

There are many different types of SERP features. Other popular SERP features include:

  • Featured snippets: These often appear at the top of search results pages. They usually highlight a section from within a blog post to answer a specific search request.
  • Image packs: This is a group of images from blog posts or websites that match a search request.
  • Local pack: These highlight local answers to search requests.
  • Things to know: This feature usually appears on broad searches. It highlights other information that could help the user refine their search.
  • Review snippets: This rich snippet is an excerpt of a specific review, and may include information from a range of reviewers.
  • Recipe snippets: This is a group of recipes from blog posts or websites that match a search request.

There are a few ways that you can improve your chances of getting SERP features to improve SEO for your blog.

First, write clear, well-structured, and useful content that responds to keywords in your niche. Be sure to answer specific questions within each post that relate to your blog topic.

Next, take a look at competitor examples for tips and ideas. It’s also a good idea to optimize your images and videos with alt text to improve their chances of appearing for relevant searches.

Finally, learn about structured data and apply it to the formatting of your blog posts. For example, these instructions from Google outline how to format a recipe with structured data.

This HubSpot Academy lesson can help you with rich SERP results. Or listen to this podcast to learn how to win featured snippets:

10. Publish evergreen content.

When planning and writing your blog articles, make sure it’s evergreen content. Meaning, the content is about topics that will remain relevant and valuable over a long period of time (with only minor changes or updates). Let’s look at a few reasons why evergreen content is so important:

  • It’ll help you rank over time, not just in the near future.
  • It contributes to steady amounts of traffic coming to your blog (and website) long after it’s been published.
  • It’ll help you generate leads over time as a result of the traffic it continually generates.

All blog content — whether it’s a long-form article, how-to guide, FAQ, tutorial, and so on — should be evergreen. Even the images you use in these posts should be evergreen. Check out this blog post for some examples of and ideas for evergreen content on your blog.

11. Update existing content.

To improve your SEO, you may assume you need to create new blog content. Although that’s partially true, you should also focus a great deal of your time and energy on your existing blog content. Specifically, repurposing and updating your current content, as well as removing your outdated content.

This is because it takes a lot longer for a completely new piece of content to settle on the search engine results page (SERP) and gain authority, whereas you could update a piece of content and reap the benefits fairly immediately in comparison.

Not only will your updated content rank on the SERP faster, improving your number of visitors and leads, it also takes a lot less time and fewer resources to update an existing piece of content rather than create a brand new article.

Additionally, updating and repurposing some of your most successful pieces of content extends its lifespan so you can achieve the best results over a longer period of time (especially if it’s evergreen content).

The final step entails removing outdated content that’s no longer relevant to your audience. Although your goal is to ensure your content is evergreen, some of it is bound to become outdated over time. This includes statistics, product information (if you have any listed in your blogs — as your products and business evolve), or information that changes across your industry over time.

If you want even more SEO tips, check out these resources:

Create Blog Content Your Readers (and Search Engines) Will Love

We don’t expect you to incorporate each of these SEO best practices into your content strategy right away. But, as your website grows, so should your goals on search engines. Once you figure out the goals and intent of your ideal readers, you’ll be on track to deliver relevant content that will climb the ranks of the SERP.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in September 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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The Rise of Web3 in Web Design: 8 Ways Website Development Will Change Forever

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The Rise of Web3 in Web Design: 8 Ways Website Development Will Change Forever

Are You Prepared for the Shift in Website Design with the Rise of Blockchain Technology?”

Let’s take a deep dive into the exciting future and world of web3 blockchain technology, and its impact on website design and development.

I’m going to provide you with real-world examples, and by the end you should have a clear and concise explanation of how decentralization, data management, and interactions will work in the future of websites.

I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned about the benefits of adopting these technologies, including increased security, website personalization, and user control.

If you want to stay ahead in the field of website design and understand the future of the industry then this article is a must-read.

The way we build websites now is changing!

The way websites are built now is inefficient and requires a huge knowledge base to build correctly. Most website platforms these days use some form of a WYSIWYG “WiziWig” style builder like WordPress, Squarespace, Shopify, and countless others.

We’ve come a long way from having a static website that had to have each page hard coded with html, css, and javascript, now anyone with a basic understanding of a computer can build their own website… at their own peril if they are inexperienced.

It’s taken over 30 years for websites to be as good as they are today, this direction is for the long term thinker who wants to be on the cutting edge of the industry and build their brand in a space that is extremely new.

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You will need to learn the technology overtime and become proficient with the types of industries that are looking to build web3 websites and applications. There are already a few decentralized website and web app builders out there that are fully running on blockchain technology. 

Decentralized Web App Builder Example: ICME

One example is a company called ICME that has “world’s first smart contract marketplace and web3 no-code suite.” Their modules even offer the ability to integrate with web2 applications that support API Post Requests.

Their entire code base is built on a blockchain technology called Internet Computer, which is why I’m actually invested in their Cryptocurrency known as ICP on exchanges. It allows you to do everything from building landing pages, websites, blog posts, online stores, Linktree type pages, Store NFT’s and more.

I do see some existing platforms like WordPress evolving into a fully decentralized Web3 platform, that would dramatically speed up market adoption as they have such a huge knowledge base and community of creators, it’s just a matter of time.

The exact evolution of website building tools is yet to be seen, but what’s certain is that web3 and blockchain technology will play a significant role in shaping the future of the web. The sooner you start to adopt and learn this technology the further ahead you will be when the time comes to switch from the internet we know it to what’s coming in the not too distant future. 

Web3 Websites will be easier to build and customize with AI Tools.

The process of building websites in Web3 becomes much more intuitive and easy with the integration of artificial intelligence, with tools like OpenAI, you will simply give the program a prompt and give it a clear description of what you want your website to look like, say, do, and create.

This is where things will get fun for a designer and being able to let your creativity and artistic talent reach a level never seen before.

The need or demand for front end website programmers will change as less custom coding will be required, your website will be able to change visual elements and maybe more in the future with ai.

Web3 Websites are going to become very personalized experiences and brand centric.

Websites will collect data with consent(which is another point for later), that allows the user to have a completely customized user experience and interaction. Imagine a traditional website as a restaurant where the customers order their food from the menu and the kitchen staff prepares the dishes.

In this scenario, the restaurant manager is the central authority that controls the flow of information, the menu, and the preparation of the food. However, in a web3 and blockchain enabled website, this centralized authority is replaced by a decentralized network of customers, chefs, and kitchen staff.

With web3 and blockchain technology, website users can interact with the site in a more direct and efficient manner. Instead of relying on a central authority, users can participate in transactions and interactions on the website without intermediaries.

This eliminates the need for middlemen, making the process faster, more secure, and cost-effective.

For example, a user can easily and securely create their own profile, manage their data, and participate in transactions on the website. This level of user empowerment enables them to take control of their online presence and interactions, providing them with greater privacy and security.

The decentralization of website interactions through web3 and blockchain technology represents a shift towards a more user-centric and efficient web experience. It eliminates the need for intermediaries, providing users with greater control over their interactions, transactions, and data.

Web3 Data Management will become more secure.

Imagine now you are running a restaurant and you need to keep track of all the ingredients you have in stock, what dishes you serve, and the orders from your customers. In the traditional system, you would keep all this information in a single ledger book, written by hand.

However, with the integration of blockchain technology in your restaurant, this system of record-keeping becomes much more efficient and secure. Each ingredient becomes a unique item with its own blockchain record, and the orders from customers are recorded as transactions.

This decentralization of data management ensures that all the information is secure and can be easily accessed by any member of the team who needs it.

In the same way, decentralization will work for data management in website design and development. Instead of relying on a single central database to store all website data, this information can be spread out across multiple nodes on a blockchain network.

This means that website data is not stored in one central location, but is instead distributed across many different nodes, making it much more secure and resilient against hacking or other forms of data loss.

For example, user data such as personal information, preferences, and transactions can be stored in a secure and encrypted manner on a blockchain network like Internet Computer. This allows website owners to manage their data in a more secure and efficient way, giving users peace of mind that their information is protected.

The integration of blockchain technology in website design and development will lead to a more secure and efficient way of managing our website data.

Like William Mougayar said author of The Business Blockchain “In a world where data is currency, the blockchain offers a new model of trust and control.” By decentralizing our data management, website owners will know that all information is stored in a secure and transparent manner, promoting trust and confidence among users. 

Say goodbye to hackers once websites are on Web3.

There were 22 billion breached records in 2021 alone, the biggest reason behind that is due to the nature of Centralized servers and website platforms.  In Web3 security can be compared to a fortified castle, providing superior protection against outside threats and ensuring the safety of you and your clients or customers valuable information and data. 

Using blockchain technology, website owners will be able to offer a greater degree of security to their users, protecting their data and transactions from malicious actors.

This will be particularly important in fields such as finance and healthcare, where the protection of sensitive information is of utmost importance and required by HIPAA and other regulatory agencies. 

Just as a fortified castle protects its inhabitants from outside threats, web3 provides a layer of security to websites that is unparalleled by traditional web design.

The decentralized nature of web3 eliminates the need for a central point of control, making it much harder for hackers to penetrate. In addition, web3’s advanced encryption algorithms and blockchain technology provide a secure platform for website data and interactions.

In a traditional website, all data is stored in a central database, making it a prime target for cyber attacks. On the other hand, web3 stores data across a network of nodes, making it much harder for a single point of failure to occur. This eliminates the risk of large scale data breaches, as well as reducing the risk of individual data being compromised.

Finally, web3’s immutable ledger ensures that all website interactions are transparent and secure. This means that all transactions and changes made to the website can be tracked and verified, making it easier to detect and prevent any fraudulent activity. So if you want to protect your website and your clients website and their users from outside threats, web3 is going to be the way to go!

“Blockchain technology offers a level of security that was previously unachievable on the internet.” – Don Tapscott, blockchain expert and author of Blockchain Revolution

Automation will be effortless with Web3.

Blockchain Web Apps will have the ability to work together seamlessly, I see a future not too far off where ecosystems of dozens of programs are consolidated into one. Checking your social media posts, messages, your email, text messages, and website inquiries all in one place in just minutes. 

Automation when done properly removes friction and resistance from any area of your business that is a lower revenue generating activity. Your time is the most valuable thing you have and using automation tools is how you buy back that time.

With web3, websites will be able to automate many processes, reducing the need for intermediaries and streamlining operations.  

I want to give a few examples of ways we can Automate our websites with Web3. The first is dynamic pricing and inventory management: Web3 and blockchain technology will allow for automated and real-time pricing and inventory updates on our e-commerce websites, reducing manual labor and increasing efficiency so that you and your team can focus on higher revenue generating tasks.

The second is user authentication and verification: Web3 and blockchain technology will provide a secure and automated way to verify user identities, reducing the risk of fraud and making it easier for websites to manage user access and permissions.

I’ve already had to dramatically improve my knowledge around user verification after working with nearly a dozen blockchain brands since 2016. 

There are already QR codes being used to login to websites like discord and other utilities like Crypto Wallets. The last example is content delivery and distribution, Web3 and blockchain technology allows for the automated content distribution, reducing the need for manual content updates and ensuring that the most up-to-date information is always available on your site.

This will free up time and resources for more creative and meaningful work, and will help to reduce costs for both users and website owners. This is good for any business owner that wants to lower their bottom line costs while raising their top line revenue simultaneously by leveraging time at the highest level of efficiency possible.

When it comes to Revenue Web3 will give you maximum monetization potential.

In the world of websites, monetization is the process of generating revenue from a website. Traditional website monetization methods include advertising, subscriptions, and e-commerce sales. However, with the advent of web3 and blockchain, the landscape of website monetization is about to change.

For example purposes let’s use a loyalty program analogy, a loyalty program is a rewards system offered by businesses to incentivize customers to continue using their services. Similarly, on web3, website monetization will offer new ways for website owners to monetize their content and incentivize users to continue visiting their site.

One example of how websites on web3 and blockchain can monetize their content is through tokenization. In this model, websites can issue tokens that represent ownership of certain content or access to premium features.

Users can then purchase these tokens and exchange them for access to the content or features they are interested in. This creates a new revenue stream for the website and offers users an incentive to visit and engage with the site.

Another way that web3 and blockchain can monetize content is through micropayments. In the traditional web, micropayments are difficult to execute due to high transaction fees and slow processing times. However, with the speed and low cost of transactions on the blockchain, micropayments become a viable option for websites to monetize their content.

This allows websites to offer users access to small amounts of content in exchange for a small payment, giving users a more affordable way to access quality content they are interested in.

One of the best examples I’ve seen so far is how Tom Bilyeu has used NFT’s as a way for people to get access to his content which ranges from events, to video games, tv shows, education and a ton more his nft’s are cleverly called the “Founder Keys.” There are lots of perks that brands are giving to early adopters that support the web3 movement and help us move closer to a better, safer, and more balanced internet.

Websites can also create loyalty program-like systems that incentivizes users to continue visiting and engaging with their site.

As the web3 and blockchain ecosystem continues to grow, we can expect to see an influx of new and creative monetization models emerge, providing websites with new opportunities to generate more revenue, and their users and visitors with new and exciting ways to access and engage with your content.

Decentralization puts Consent into action.

As a designer, the websites or graphics I create that started from an idea, a conversation, or something i’ve experienced are valuable and belong to me, knowing that there are AI design tools that can take my 15 years of experience, and use it to create an even better version in seconds and essentially for free?

That’s a big NO NO for the creators and artists, in fact there is a movement happening right now about consent and how these big platforms don’t have the consent to use their art as reference for AI design tools.

I stand behind being able to give consent if your work is going to be used without your permission, if movie and music piracy is a federal crime shouldn’t companies stealing a designer’s work without consent a crime too?

I think so, and that’s why I’m so excited about Web3 and Blockchain. Being able to create smart contracts and public records of your creative assets is a huge step forward for creators and designers around the world.

Imagine a world where your designs are stored on a decentralized platform, accessible only with your consent. You can choose who can view your work, who can use it, and how it can be used. No longer do you have to worry about your designs being stolen or used without your permission.

With web3 and Blockchain, your work is protected by the power of blockchain technology, ensuring that your designs remain yours.

In this new world, you can also monetize your work in new and innovative ways. For example, you could offer limited use licenses for your designs, allowing others to use them for a specified period of time. You could also offer exclusive access to your designs, giving a select group of people the ability to use them in a unique way.

By giving you the power to control how your work is used, shared, and monetized, web3 decentralization empowers you to take control of your career and build a future that reflects your vision and values. Decentralization is a game-changer for designers and creatives alike. 

You get complete power of consent for your work to be used in any way, web3 decentralization empowers you to take control of your career and build a future that reflects your vision and values. So why not embrace this exciting new technology and start building your future today?

Interacting with Web3 Websites will be easier than ever.

Web3 website users will be able to customize a range of interactions on a website like content creation and sharing. Users will be able to create, share and consume content that aligns with their interests and preferences, without relying on centralized platforms.

Community building, users will have the ability to build and join communities that align with their interests and participate in decision-making processes, creating a more personalized and engaging online experience. 

Interaction with E-commerce, users will be able to buy and sell goods and services directly with one another, without the need for traditional payment processors, creating a more transparent, secure, and affordable online marketplace.

Users will be able to access personalized services and experiences based on their data and preferences, creating a more user-centered online experience. A good example is a pizza shop website that keeps track of the last purchase you made and gives you the option to re order it at a discount price.

Web3 users will have the ability to customize a wide range of interactions on the website, from content creation and community building, to e-commerce and data privacy, creating a more user-centered, personalized and engaging online experience.

The adoption of web3 and blockchain technology is poised to bring about a revolution in the world of website design. From decentralization to automation and from security to monetization, these technologies offer new and innovative ways to interact with the web.

As a designer, it is crucial to keep up with these changes and be prepared for the new opportunities and challenges that come with them. 

Web3 decentralization empowers creators by giving them control over how their work is used. Automation streamlines processes and saves time, while security measures are reinforced, giving website owners peace of mind. And with monetization options like a rewards program, website owners can explore new and innovative ways to earn revenue.

Overall, the future of website design is bright with the integration of web3, blockchain, and ai. Designers should embrace the power of these technologies to unlock new possibilities on the web and create better online experiences for everyone

“Unlock the power of web3 and blockchain to unleash your creative potential, embrace the future of website design, and build the digital world of tomorrow.” – Adrian Boysel



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Dating App Algorithms: Optimizing Search for Love

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Dating App Algorithms: Optimizing Search for Love

With nearly 8 billion people in the world, it’s safe to say there’s at least one person out there with whom everyone reading this would have a happy, healthy relationship. Now, that person isn’t the same for all of us—of course, and thankfully! And, depending on how you feel about soulmates, there might not be “the one” at all, rather potentially dozens or more people with whom you’d have a fulfilling relationship if only your paths crossed.

But back to that number—8 billion (8,000,000,000). That is a nine-zero situation that we don’t see spelled out very often. And all those zeros make for a lot of potential relationship heroes to consider.

But we don’t start by considering all 8 billion; we hone in on those folks who seem most likely to be a good match. We start with basic criteria—like age, location, gender and gender preference—and continue refining our options from there.

And if you’re doing your searching and sorting at least in part through ‘the apps’, which the numbers show many of you are, dating app algorithms are instrumental in helping you find someone special.

Table of Contents

 

 

Source: https://www.statista.com/chart/24404/most-popular-dating-apps-us/

Algorithms are sets of instructions or rules that help complete a process as those rules intend. No matter how simple or complex the algorithm, or how much or how little data it has to digest to function properly, the basics of how it works are the same.

Algorithms are designed as tools to help in sorting, digesting, and delivering relevant information; it is people who determine the goals the algorithm will help achieve. And despite algorithms in the digital space being regularly eyed with suspicion by many, they are truly intended to improve our search results.

While all dating apps share a foundational commonality—helping foster connections—they also differ in some key ways that might influence their current and future goals. Let’s do some background research on a few of the most popular dating apps to see what we dig up.

 

 

If you’ve tried more than one dating app, or are weighing your options, you may find yourself wondering the same thing you wonder when looking for a partner: “Are they really all the same?” This is where it’s important to again consider the goals of that particular platform. Many have the same overarching goal—to connect people to other people they’ll like—but what kind of connections is each best suited for, and why?

You can tell a lot about a dating app by the first impression it makes with its name and slogan; both can provide some level of insight into what the goals of that dating platform are, which helps make sense of what the goals of the algorithm would be.

Remember that “matching” is largely what search functions as a whole are designed for, whether it’s matching searchers with the right information, right services, right answers, or Ms. or Mr. Right.

Let’s do some classic internet detective work to see what we can learn about a few popular apps, diving deepest into Tinder…
 

Tinder Algorithm

Pie chart for US dating app market share in 2021 withTinder, Bumble, and Plenty of Fish in top 3

Source: https://www.businessofapps.com/data/dating-app-market/

Tinder is among the most popular dating apps thanks largely to its large user base, ease-of-use, and becoming a bit of a household name over the past few years. For many folks, Tinder is synonymous with dating apps the way Band-Aid is synonymous with adhesive bandages. In fact, recent data shared by Statista found that brand awareness of Tinder in the US is 84%, and that 37% of all US dating service users are on the platform.

As we know, the first step in understanding an algorithm is determining its goals. Let’s see what we can learn about who Tinder is, and what their goals, purpose and promise are, straight from the source—Tinder.com.

  • Tinder is the most popular free dating app in the world, and has made more than 55 billion matches to date. They boast millions of single users, and considers themselves “the most diverse dating app”
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  • In your Discovery Settings on Tinder, you can set your sexual orientation, and the age and distance-from-you for the profiles you’ll see on the platform. They use location-based technology to connect you with relevant profiles based on those selections (Source: Tinder FAQs)
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  • Tinder can also be used to foster non-romantic connections, including helping college students make friends at school through TinderU
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  • Tinder believes “everyone deserves the right to be seen and make the first move,” and doesn’t filter by race, religion, education, or height
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  • Tinder isn’t only for those looking for ‘the one’ — ”Some sites, like Hinge and eharmony, are designed for long-term relationships, but on the Tinder app, we’re all about the experience and offer possibilities for whatever it is you’re looking for.”
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  • If you want your answers to specific questions to help you in finding users with similar replies, you can enable the Tinder Vibes feature. You can also add Passions (or Interests) to your profile.
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  • Tinder can also help you in finding more matches by notifying you when a Swipe Surge is underway—a period of high activity on the platform. Once you’ve joined, you can narrow your options by selecting from different categories that let other users know what you’re looking for on Tinder (ie. casual chats, nightlife, etc.)
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  • Tinder is open to evolving to keep up with the changing wants and needs of its users. After all, those who started on the platform in their early twenties may have very different goals in their early thirties, and no platform wants to lose its most loyal users. As recently as December 2022, Tinder added a Relationship Goals feature

 
Now that we’ve unpacked what Tinder is to help in understanding the why behind their algorithm goals, let’s dive deeper into what they’ve shared about how their algorithm works, which bears a lot of similarity to social media platform algorithms.
 

Engagement is a primary factor

Just like the Instagram algorithm better understands what you want to see more of based on your in-app engagement, Tinder can provide you with better potential matches the more you use the app. This includes using “anonymized cues” from photos in tailoring future recommendations, serving up profiles with photos similar to those a user has liked before. Nopes are also considered.

Because there are two people in this equation, the algorithm is working similarly on the flipside, showing your profile to users who have liked other profiles with photos similar to yours. If you start noticing similarities in the profiles you’re shown most often—like all your matches have profiles featuring concert photos or camping photos—your swipe history has likely influenced your results.

But on Tinder, it’s not just measuring your engagement metrics to determine your top interests; they also want to make sure you’re still actively looking. Tinder wants all their users to have an optimal user experience, which is facilitated in part by prioritizing active members.

Translating this to the ecommerce space, they want to make sure they aren’t wasting your time, or annoying you, by directing you to out-of-stock URLs.
 

Proximity comes into play

When creating a Tinder profile, users provide their gender, gender preferences, age, distance (from potential matches), and current location. These are all fairly standard, but it’s that ‘current location’ where things can get interesting.

In addition to considering your state or city-based location in the potential matches shown, Tinder will go one step further and prioritize profiles that are in the nearest proximity. “Proximity is a key factor; it’s always fun meeting someone in the same neighborhood and that’s why we consider a potential match’s distance from a member’s current location.”

Translating this to the commerce space, they don’t only want to show which stores have the product in-stock ‘near you’ in a broad sense, rather what’s available in the stores closest to you where you can click-and-collect (swipe-and-connect?) ASAP.
 

User-provided data can help refine matches

Many folks like that they can get started swiping on Tinder with just a modest amount of upfront work required, but the more data you give the algorithm to work with, the better your results are going to be. While adding your interests/passions and a detailed lifestyle description are optional, Tinder will consider them in your matches when you provide them.

Tinder also shared some things that aren’t factored into their algorithm, including social status, religion, and ethnicity. They also noted that their much-discussed Elo Score is “old news” that their latest technology doesn’t rely on.
 

Match.com Algorithm

Match.com logoSource: https://www.match.com/

While there are dozens, if not hundreds, of dating sites to choose from today, the one that can be considered the mother of them all is Match. Starting all the way back in 1995 when many folks still relied on newspaper classifieds to find singles in their area, Match.com entered the scene to lay the groundwork for letting the information superhighway (aka internet) provide the path to lasting love.

Unlike Tinder, Match isn’t simply looking to foster connections; as their name implies, they are looking to help find true matches. They’ll even let you know if you’ve crossed paths with one of your matches in real life. That said, it isn’t as expressly marriage-driven as eHarmony, so may serve as a nice middle ground for folks who want something more than casual, but aren’t rushing nuptials.

So how do they make those matches? As you might expect, your provided information is at the foundation! And as noted by BestCompany, Match offers one of the most comprehensive profiles around—if users take the time to complete theirs. In addition to being able to add information like religion, profession, and whether you have children, Match goes even further giving users the option to submit responses to essay questions. They also let you rank how important something is, noting if it’s essential or just nice-to-have.

The importance of your profile, from Match:

“It contains questions about who you are, where you’re from, the things that interest you, your lifestyle, and your background and values. It also asks you about your ideal match. All of this information helps form a great image of who you are and who you’re looking for. Not only does this help potential matches understand you better, it also helps us provide you with better matches through our unique matching tools.”

 

Bumble Algorithm

Bumble logo

Source: https://bumble.com/

Bumble is unique in that it requires women to make the first messaging move (in heterosexual matches). They note that they prioritize kindness and respect, and similar to Tinder, have sister sites aimed at helping users network or find a new BFF. Like many other popular apps, Bumble is free to use, but offers optional premium features that can help get your profile seen and improve or increase functionality.

Bumble isn’t as transparent about their algorithm as Tinder, but who you see on the app appears to be largely filter-driven. While filters can be very helpful in narrowing your selection of available options, Bumble notes that over-filtering may leave you with very few profiles that make the cut. Loosening your filters can help in making you matchable with a wider variety of users, but bear in mind you’re losing some precision in the process.

Similar to most dating app algorithms, it is speculated that Bumble is learning what you like and don’t like as you swipe. Just like the information you expressly provide to aid in making matches, including your gender and distance preferences, your swipe activity is another factor for the algorithm to consider. The more intentional you are about the choices you make, the more accurately the algorithm will be able to deliver strong potential matches in the future. This is just another layer of ‘you get out what you put in’; if you want Bumble to better understand who to show you, they need to get to know you first.

On Bumble, regular use of the app isn’t only encouraged, but required for optimal experience. Once a match is made, a message must be sent within 24 hours; if not, the match expires. And after the first message has been sent, another 24-hour timer begins. If a reply isn’t sent within that window, the match expires. Similar to Tinder, this shows us that Bumble prioritizes profile activity so it can ensure users aren’t wasting time crafting messages to inactive users.

Where Bumble differs from Tinder is in what the vast majority of its users are looking for. Whereas Tinder aims to be the dating app destination for users looking for everything from casual connections to something serious, the majority of Bumble users are looking for long-term relationships.

It’s also worth noting that the ‘women message first’ model for heterosexual relationships is a motivating factor in using the app for men and women alike. As Bumble’s infographic shows, 97% of women made that first move and messaged their matches in the past month. And 63% of men reported that “women making the first move” was their reason for choosing Bumble.
 

eharmony Algorithm

Source: https://www.eharmony.com/

Source: https://www.eharmony.com/

eharmony is a dating app designed for people looking for serious, long-term relationships. In fact, according to eharmony, couples who met through their platform make up 4% of all marriages in the US.

With this goal in mind—helping people who are truly, deeply compatible find one another—eharmony has to ask a lot of questions to make sure they get things right. For casual daters, these types of question lists are often exactly what puts them off a dating site. For those who want to get right to scrolling or swiping, eharmony is not a good match.

Just remember—you get out what you put in, because the algorithm is working with the input you provided in its output. The more relevant information you provide for it to work with, the more tailored to you your results will be. On eharmony, they actually quantify your likelihood of getting along with someone by assigning a Compatibility Score, with 60 being low compatibility, and 140 being the highest compatibility.

Explained by eharmony:

“Each of your matches will display a different eharmony Compatibility Score and, as the name suggests, it’s a simple indicator of how compatible you two are. These scores are based on your similarities and contrasts, as well as the answers you gave to our Compatibility Quiz when you joined eharmony. In the Compatibility section of each match’s profile, you can see what similarities you have, and also potential points of friction.”

Happy to answer a laundry list of questions about who you are, and what’s most important to you, but don’t want to pay a fee? OkCupid is another popular dating site option that relies heavily on provided information to aid in the compatibility measurement process, for free (upgrade options available).

 

 

Just because algorithms can help you find love certainly doesn’t mean they’re the only path to happiness. They simply provide a more streamlined, strategic path of possibility that sifts through the wide sea of options, providing a curated, filtered, or otherwise sorted list of choices from which you can weigh pros and cons before ever typing “hello.”

Similarly, most of us have happened upon one or more products in our lives that we didn’t even know we were looking for, but instantly fell in love with. Perhaps it was that perfect gold charm bracelet you stumbled across in a tucked-away jewelry store while on vacation. Or maybe it’s those jeans you grabbed at a store near your office when you forgot you had after-work plans, and they ended up being the most flattering, comfortable jeans you’ve ever owned.

These are moments of luck and serendipity, and they do indeed happen every day! But they don’t make a solid plan for accomplishing your goals, no matter what you’re searching for.

 

 

Tinder Super Like feature pop-up

Source: https://tinder.com/feature/stand-out

The algorithms that power dating apps will always be running in the background, but many apps offer ways to get your profile seen when it might not have otherwise been algorithmically driven to the top. It’s important to note that these aren’t true algorithm workarounds, rather methods through which you can push to the front of a specific line, often at a price.

Additionally, some features are more simply designed to let you engage more often or heavily within the app, which can naturally improve your chances of securing a date. In a sense, this can be thought of as advertising yourself.

For example: In addition to the additional benefits packed into each of Tinder’s subscription tiers, popular premium features include Boost and Super Like, which Tinder claims will “increase your chances of matching by 3x and have convos that last 70% longer.” Exclusive to Tinder Platinum subscribers is the Priority Like feature, which “puts your profile in front of the people you Like faster.” Similar premium features are available on Match.com, where they’re known as Power-Ups.

 

 

Not only do some dating apps offer paid services that help users go over the algorithm to an extent, they also make a lot of their money from advertising revenue. As it turns out, love—or at the least the quest thereof—just might be able to pay the bills, after all.
 

Does Match Group have a monopoly on love?

Ad space across many of the most popular dating apps can be purchased from the same place—Match Media Group. That’s because Match Group owns more than a dozen popular apps, and can sell cross-platform advertising options to prospective advertisers for many of them.

“Match Media Group serves as a single point partner for marketers to leverage the aggregated audience, data and insights that result from having millions of global users across Match’s portfolio of dating platforms, including Tinder, OKCupid and Match.com.”

Match Media Group

As for who exactly is cuddled up under this love umbrella, the following are some of the dating apps owned by Match Group…

  • Match.com
  • Tinder
  • OkCupid
  • Hinge
  • PlentyOfFish
  • UPWARD
  • Ship
  • Meetic
  • OurTime
  • …and many more dating companies worldwide

But the Match Group isn’t the only major player on the block. There is no denying their impressive portfolio of apps, and the incredible data they’re able to collect and leverage thanks to the millions of users across their portfolio. But two of the biggest names in the dating app world are missing from their list—Bumble and badoo—both owned by the same parent company.
 

What advertising options are available on dating apps?

Three tinder advertising examples with branded profile cards and quiz

Source: https://www.matchmediagroup.com/

Looking specifically at ad products available from Match Media Group, we find the following options:

  • Branded Profile Card (Tinder): Brands can create profiles native to the Tinder user experience. When users match with a branded profile, they receive brand custom messaging including offers, promotions, exclusive content, and/or more
  •  

  • Quiz (Tinder): Quizzes can be fully completed within the app, and leverage Tinder’s swipe feature to answer questions, which can be as simple as asking whether they like or dislike something. Following a short series of questions, these users can then share their results across their social media networks if they choose to
  •  

  • Native Video Card (Tinder): Video advertising is only on the rise, and makes a perfect fit for a fast-paced app that appeals to younger users, like Tinder. Tinder video ads can lead folks to external URLs, including your website. These video ads auto-play within the app when users are in discovery mode
  •  

  • Native Display Card (Tinder): Similar to a profile card in design, these ad units allow brands to drive traffic to an external page with one click.
  •  

  • In-App Interstitial (OKCupid): These full screen interstitial ads are shown as users are browsing their matches
  •  

  • Standard/High Impact Units (Match, Meetic, People Media, Plenty of Fish): These are set to target your key demographic, and are available across several platforms

 
Match Media Group notes that interested advertisers can run their campaigns across their full portfolio, or on specific sites, with a minimum investment of $25K+.
 

Advantages of Advertising on Dating Apps

Chart with penetration rate and revenue of dating apps in US, UK, France, Germany, Brazil

Source: https://www.statista.com/chart/24165/online-dating-penetration-rate-revenue-selected-countries/

There are perhaps more advertising options available today than ever before—from classic digital advertising avenues to in-store screens, LED billboards, magazines, streaming ads, and far beyond. Each of these has unique goals and purposes, as well as the ability to reach potential customers in different mindsets, different funnel stages, and so forth.

Looking at advertising on dating apps specifically, a few key considerations and benefits come to mind:

  • People on dating apps are already in a comparative state-of-mind. When someone is already actively in the consideration phase, like they would be on a dating app, they are mentally in the right place to be served an ad for a product or service to consider
  •  

  • You can reach Gen Z in droves. The average user age varies from platform to platform, with the most popular free platform—Tinder—being home to a wide audience of Gen Z and young Millennial users. BusinessofApps notes that while Tinder has historically been popular with the 25-and-younger set, its use is increasing with older folks as well. This is due in part to Tinder’s overall increasing popularity, but also because those who have used the app for years are quite simply getting older
  •  

  • Dating apps have a much higher percentage of male users on average. Similar to the average age varying by platform, the percentage of male users compared to female users also naturally varies. That said, looking at the breakdown for a few of the most popular apps, we find that there are significantly more male than female users. According to the above-linked article from BusinessofApps, Tinder’s user base is ~75% male. This could make dating apps an excellent advertising tool for brands whose products or services are largely targeted to men
  •  

  • Your competitors probably aren’t there (yet). The competition for the most eligible singles may be fierce on dating apps, but compared to other digital advertising spaces, it may be easier for your brand to stand out. It’s a unique advertising territory that many brands simply haven’t considered yet, giving those who have an added edge by being early adopters. With an estimated 75 million people in over 190 countries using the Tinder app every month alone, the potential reach is incredible

 

Dating App Advertising Examples

Tinder advertising example for Rescue Matches, matching dogs with users

Source: https://www.thedrum.com/news/2022/09/22/lovelorn-tinder-users-can-now-feature-shelter-dogs-search-ideal-partner

Tinder recently partnered with rescue shelters across the country to help some very swipeable pooches find their forever home. As if adding a dog to the family isn’t reward enough, it could also help you secure more swipes. A 2021 study by Honest Paws found that profile photos featuring a canine companion may get more positive attention.

From The Drum:

“The tie-up follows a 2021 survey, conducted by Honest Paws, which found that 70% of singles believe that a dog in their profile pic leads to more matches. This belief is supported by 60% who express themselves to be more willing to date someone holding a dog close.”

Tinder advertising example with Domino’s distributing pizza coupons

Source: https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/dominos-pizza-gets-flirty-tinder-valentines-day/1280989

As we’re all aware, it’s important to consider your audience in marketing. And that’s exactly what Domino’s UK did going all the way back to 2014, with an innovative Valentine’s Day Tinder ad campaign. Do you know who orders pizza on Valentine’s Day? Single people! And do you know who wants a coupon for that pizza? Everyone!

 

 
There’s a reason people say your profile is a chance to “sell yourself” because ultimately, you are your own marketing manager on dating apps. Interestingly, when we consider all the information above, it’s hard not to see a dating profile as remarkably similar to a product detail page. And just like a PDP, there are certain elements that can help you in optimizing it for search (and conversion!)
 

Choose your main photo wisely

Your main photo is the first photo potential connections will see, and heavily determines whether they choose to learn more from your other photos and profile content.

Similar to the main photo you choose for a product you’re selling or advertising, you’ll want the photo to be clear/in-focus, eye-catching, and prominently feature an attractive and accurate representation of the available item (in this case, you!), without others in frame.
 

Let the pictures do some of the talking

While there is room to provide additional information about yourself through text, just as they do with product images, photos can tell a lot of that story for you. Select an assortment of pictures that clearly display your interests, values, hobbies and more. This might mean including a photo with your dog, another of you hiking, another at an amusement park, and another marching at a protest.

These don’t tell the whole story of who you are, but they give some important information before a single word has been read, just like lifestyle photos and infographics on PDPs.
 

Showcase your unique value propositions

It’s hard to argue that honesty is typically the best policy, and in the dating apps landscape, it’s absolutely crucial. Not only can it save you from frustration and disappointment, but it can also save you a lot of time, and help in finding a truly strong match faster.

Just as you would do when considering what distinguishes your particular product from similar products in the same space, think of what unique characteristics about yourself are not only likely to be intriguing, but are also an integral aspect of your personality, values, or lifestyle.
 

Include the most important and relevant information in your profile copy

Want to give dating app algorithms the most information to work with in crafting potential matches that are truly personalized to you? It’s going to take a little work on your part, but it can actually be a great self-reflection session!

Just as you consider what a prospective buyer would want to know about a product before adding to cart, what is most important for a potential suitor to know about you before sending a message? This information might vary depending on the seriousness of connections you’re looking to make, and how important something is for you in a partner. If something is a make-or-break for you, be sure to include it in your profile copy to save everyone time.

 

 
Graphic with three professionals in Connected Commerce, Lifecycle Marketing, and Streaming+

Our research into how dating algorithms function only solidified our suspicions that they function very similarly to the algorithms that impact our daily lives as marketers. After all, the goals of platforms like Google, Facebook, and Tinder aren’t all that different—to help in sorting through an abundance of options to present you with what you are most likely to be interested in based on key preference-determining factors like your provided information, and previous engagement.

Thinking more specifically about marketing and advertising options, we realized that just like people, each has its own set of strengths and skills that make them a solid match for different business goals.

In the spirit of dating profiles and Valentine’s Day being just 2 weeks away, we created Marketing Profiles for three of our services—Connected Commerce, Lifecycle Marketing, and Streaming+. Which one is the most important match for your business?

Graphic reading “Marketing Profile: Connected Commerce"

Name: Connected Commerce

About Me: I’m that holistic free spirit your mother warned you about, who really and truly believes all things are connected! Rather than searching for the path of least resistance, my sights are set on crafting the path of best performance. You might call me the Cartographer of Commerce Success, because I don’t follow a templated map—I draft a custom one every time. I am your 360-degree commerce solution; if people are shopping somewhere, I’m considering how we can make that somewhere work best for you.

Why Should You Get to Know Me: In the words of Ani DiFranco, “I am 32 flavors and then some.” I am Commerce Media, Commerce Strategy & Ops, Social Commerce, In-Store Commerce, Gaming Commerce, Commerce OTT, Data & Analytics, Creative, and Influencer. A lot of folks think they’re the “total package,” but I really am! I understand that every client journey and customer journey is unique, and that my role is to assure both are properly supported, and strategically accounted for.

Interests: Finding the best path forward, diving into cross-channel capabilities and impact, full-funnel commerce strategies, success

Recent Read: Marketing in 2023: 5 Big Bets for the CMO

Where You’ll Find Me: Come learn more about me at The Commerce Summit on February 15, 2023. (I’ll be the one with a bagful of half-priced Valentine’s Day chocolates I picked up at Rite Aid on the way.) If things go well and we make a real connection (which is kinda my whole thing), we can sync up again a week later for webinar date #2 on February 22, 2023. You can also hit me up here anytime—looking forward to connecting!

Favorite Quote: “We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.”William James

Graphic reading “Marketing Profile: Lifecycle Marketing”

Name: Lifecycle Marketing

About Me: I’m the trifecta of hyper-personalized, privacy-compliant communications—email marketing, mobile messaging, and on-site marketing. I work best when all three aspects of who I am are fully-integrated so I can ensure I’m saying the right thing at the right time in the right place to the right person. (Do I really mean that, or do I keep saying “right” so you see me as the “right one” for you? Yes and yes.)

Why Should You Get to Know Me: I am a strong, capable leader that can help power your data and audience strategies in the privacy-by-default future. I’m an empathetic marketing avenue, always aiming to provide shoppers and subscribers with only the most relevant information. I believe in rewarding loyalty, and respecting user permissions and preferences.

Interests: Collecting and leveraging zero-party and privacy-compliant first-party data, building customer loyalty, highly personalized messaging

Recent Read: The 2023 Lifecycle Marketing Guide

Favorite Acronyms: SMS, ESP, CLV

Where You’ll Find Me: On-site, I often literally just pop up! And I usually have a coupon or something equally enticing to offer when I do. But you’ll also find me in your inbox, and in your texts (but only if you opted-in!) You can also reach out here to learn more about why we’d be a great match!

Graphic reading “Marketing Profile: Streaming+”

Name: Streaming+

About Me: I’m a bit of an advertising force to be reckoned with, with no click-to-close box in sight! In some situations, it can even be said I’m over-the-top. I am an unskippable, scalable, targetable, data-driven dynamo, introducing audiences to new brands and services wherever they get their stream on.

Why Should You Get to Know Me: I’m designed to reach audiences not only where they are today, but where they’ll increasingly be in the future. In the grand scheme of advertising, some folks still see streaming ads as a promising up-and-comer. But the reality is that I’ve fully arrived, and I’m reaching millions of viewers and listeners with relevant, targeted streaming audio and video ads at this very moment. (Bit of a multitasker!)

Interests: Meeting your audience where they are, non-skippable ads, patented measurement technology that connects served impressions to marketing outcomes

Recent Read: The Ultimate Guide to Performance Streaming

Favorite Acronyms: OTT, cTV

Where You’ll Find Me: On internet-enabled devices near you, including your television, tablet, desktop, and mobile device. Some of the most popular places you can find me are Hulu, Sling TV, and YouTube TV. Reach out today to learn more about how we can make streaming sparks fly!

Favorite Karaoke Duet Song: Islands in the Stream by Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers

Personal Catchphrase: Just livin’ the stream!

 

 

With all this talk about the power of algorithms, and how they’re fueling search results everywhere from Snapchat to Match.com, it’s important to remember that they’re simply tools that play a part in powering what you see—not what you ultimately decide.

It is still up to you whether you want to go on a date with a person returned in your search results, just like it’s ultimately up to you what product you buy, plumber you call, or restaurant you decide to go to based on your search results. And just like there are algorithms, photos, provided information and more to help you with those other decisions, so is the case in the commerce of love.

As we’ve explored, choosing the right dating app for you requires considering your own goals in using the app, and weighing those against the goals of the apps themselves. So the first step is finding which app is your best match! And at the end of the day, whatever it is you’re looking for online, chances are algorithms are behind those results you see. (Not to be confused with the Al Gore Rhythm.)

Want to learn more about how we can help your brand find true love with new and existing customers across the advertising universe? Reach out today!

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How to create a user flow map for your website & app

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How to create a user flow map for your website & app



In the highly competitive world of rock climbing, some athletes perform an extreme version of ascent: a climber performs a flash climb when they complete a route on their first attempt. Climbers value world record flash climbs because each climber only gets one attempt to set a record.

As difficult as flash climbs are, they aren’t extreme enough for some climbers. In a flash ascent, climbers can study the route, receive advice, and formulate plans. For climbers not satisfied with that level of challenge, onsight climbs are performed by climbers who not only have never completed the ascent before but haven’t even seen the route.

Extreme athletes seek out unique challenges, taking pride in accomplishing things that most people cannot. While the risk of failure adds unique value to sports, it adds unnecessary difficulty to business processes. In the business world, you don’t define success by creating unique challenges but by creating unique solutions to minimize challenges. One of those solutions is a user flow map—a method of diagramming the pathways users take through your interface.

A good user flow map helps businesses understand their users’ journeys, identify pain points, and plan for contingencies. This guide explains user flows, how to create user flow maps, and some best practices for designing your diagrams.

Key takeaways:

  • User journey describes the user’s entire experience with your company, while user flow describes the steps they follow using your interface.
  • Some common shapes like ovals, rectangles, diamonds, and parallelograms have commonly understood uses in flow charts.
  • Follow best practices and use the experts at Optimizely to level up your digital experience.

 

User flow vs. user journey

While user flow and user journey have similar names and overlap in significant ways, you should be aware of important differences between these concepts.

The user journey encompasses every aspect of the user’s experience with your company. The user journey begins when a user first becomes aware of your business (or becomes aware of a need you can solve) and ends with their last interaction with your company. That means that while you can’t know exactly when a user journey begins or ends, you can use customer relationship management software to identify where a user is on their journey and how to move them to the next step.

The user flow overlaps with the user journey, but it specifically describes the pathway users follow on your website or application. For example, a user flow may begin when a user visits your website for the first time and end with a purchase. Those activities are a part of the larger user journey, but the user flow is more interested in the experience users have with your website or app.

The user journey is interested in the user’s emotions, tangible and intangible interactions, ongoing communication, relationship building, etc.—the “people” side of the process; while the user flow is interested in the “technology” side of the process—the user’s clicks, page visits and subscriptions. The user flow and user journey describe different elements of the same relationship between your business and your users.

image source

 

User flow diagraming

Your users won’t ever see your user flow map, but you and your team will refer to it throughout the life of your website or app, so while it doesn’t have to be the prettiest document, it should still be clear and user-friendly.

While the rules of user flow diagraming aren’t set in stone, you should know some best practices and generally understand flowchart creation syntax.

  • Ovals represent the start and end point of your flow chart. Depending on your process, your user flow might have more than one start point and more than one endpoint.
  • Squares or rectangles represent individual pages or steps. In general, flow charts, squares and rectangles can be any step of a process, but in web and app design, squares and rectangles represent individual pages in the user interface.
  • Diamonds represent decisions that users must make. For example, when a user first attempts to log in to your platform, your website may prompt them to connect a Google or Facebook account, or they may log in with an email or continue as a guest. Depending on their choice, their journey through your website or app may diverge as you deliver a different experience based on their choices.
  • Parallelograms represent input required by the user. For example, you may require them to input a serial number to activate their product or provide a shipping address to receive a service.
  • Arrows indicate the direction of the flow. Your flow may include loops, crossroads, and diverging and converging pathways, so indicating the sequence of elements is essential for your user flow map to be readable. 

Generally, those four shapes, along with arrows, are the foundational building blocks of your user flow map, but you can always use additional shapes, colors or other design elements to communicate any information you believe is relevant. Remember that the purpose of a user flow map isn’t just to follow the rules or check a box but to communicate information about the user flow. The example below shows additional shapes that other companies have used when creating flow charts.

image source

 

User flow design principles

As with any form of communication, user flow maps lose some value when they omit relevant information and include too much irrelevant information. Designing a successful user flow map includes balancing several considerations to maximize the usefulness of your diagram.

1. Establish a level of detail

If your user flow maps are too detailed, they become convoluted and difficult to read. If they aren’t detailed enough, they aren’t useful. Establishing the correct level of granularity is an important first step in designing a user flow map.

When it comes to designing diagrams, the golden principle is to consider the needs of your users. What kind of questions will they be trying to answer with your chart? What level of experience will they have? What will they be using this chart to do? Answering those questions will help you define the right level of detail for your user flow map.

2. Consider alternatives

One of the reasons user flow maps are useful is because they allow designers to visually parse the journey users go on as they traverse your website or app. Do your best to consider every alternative when designing your user flow map.

For example, what will you do if users add items to their cart but leave without checking out? What will you do if a user provides a billing address but not a shipping address? What if a user requests a free trial but then buys the full version? Your user flow map will help you identify these crossroads and plan for contingencies.

3. Use the right digital experience platform

Your users’ digital experience matters. Optimizely is a powerful digital experience platform with expert tools to help with automation, A/B testing, content management, and much more.

A user flow map only describes your customers’ journey as they interact with your digital interface. While a user map can help identify pain points and visually inspire solutions, the key to improving your customer’s experience is to improve the content of your website or app.

 

If you’re ready to take your digital experiences to the next level, get started today to set up a meeting with an Optimizely representative today.


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