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Google Wants You to Deliver Better Web UX

You want web visitors to hang around your site. Google does, too. The world’s premier search engine doesn’t like users pogo-sticking off your page to another search result. Search behavior like this throws up a red flag that suggests one of two things. Either Google has pegged you wrong, or your site doesn’t truly offer the content it says it does. Either way, it’s bad for your rankings.

Some content adjustment may be in order to provide a better user experience – and to keep Google happy. Start by putting your content to the test. Check its Core Web Vitals ­to determine how Google sizes up your site’s overall user experience. Web Vitals provide simplified, unified guidance on the elements that are essential for good web UX. Thank you, Google.

Metrics that matter most include loading, interactivity and visual stability. You can find your site’s evaluation in your Google Search Console “enhancements” section. See where you stand – then improve upon it if possible.

True-Blue Performance

This is about delivering a genuine, holistic picture of your offerings in order to improve the user’s experience. It also highlights why you need to provide appropriate content (the most important metric) and a good page experience (a close second). At this summer’s Ad World 2021 virtual conference, presenters offered suggestions to capture and hold attention. Remember these takeaways:

  • Hook them fast. Slow builds don’t work anywhere anymore.
  • Clearly communicate your offering in the first three seconds.
  • Design for mobile, which means vertical, full-portrait content.
  • Familiarize content by using relatable songs, especially on TikTok.
  • Evoke emotion, especially upbeat and high energy.
  • Highlight key messages with text and voiceover captions.
  • Provide a call to action, encouraging next steps.

Give your website content your immediate and full attention. If you’re just starting to build a brand, make your website content the first thing you create. Everything leads prospects to your site. When they click on your banner ad or social post, they’re transported to your site. Done right, your website can be the platform where a prospect becomes a lead through a sign-up form or another call to action. Or, even better, where a lead becomes a customer.

The Clock’s Ticking

Google started rolling out Core Web Vital-based ranking changes this past June. Page experience came on at the end of August. Google says sites should not expect drastic changes and, with the gradual rollout, is monitoring for unintended consequences and issues.

Google uses approximately 200 factors to rank sites, but content and UX are the driving forces. And, with some strategic effort, you can boost their performance. Need help? Greteman Group develops content and user experience strategies that help grow markets, generate leads and close deals.

Let’s talk.

Retreat to Advance

It’s good to take a step back sometimes. To literally stop. And think. How can we provide greater value? How can we work smarter, not harder? Equally important – what is our why?

So that’s what we did recently. We took a break from the day-to-day and retreated to the calm sanctuary of Sonia’s home and garden. Funny how when you get still, your mind races. And opens.

Let the Games Begin

Coach Kate Vanden Bos led us through exercises and discussions designed to harness our individual strengths and overcome issues holding us back. The day’s focus: communication and collaboration. She asked us to think about our individual superpowers. To write them down and reflect on them. Throughout the day, we were asked, what had we learned? How did we show up?

We’re big believers in Talent Dynamics, an assessment tool designed to help achieve potential. We created teams representing a variety of personality types and, being strong visual types, color coded those as white, orange and blue.

Marshmallows and Spaghetti

Our first exercise kicked off with a creative brief that – big surprise – lacked all the information needed – and even contained some faulty direction. Success went to the team that listened closely, slowed down, took adequate time to plan, asked questions and negotiated on the deliverable if it had a better solution. Treating the creative brief as if it were written in stone proved to be disastrous. Team Orange won the challenge, coming in the most under budget. Other teams finished the exercise earlier and beautifully, but the value-first approach prevailed.

Lost at Sea

This challenge had people individually rank items’ survival usefulness on a life raft adrift in the ocean, rank the items again collaborative with the team – then compare the individual and team rankings to the Coast Guard’s official rationale. The exercise revealed that listening to all voices helps increase our chances of living another day. Negotiation comes in handy with strong-willed people convinced they are right. Talking things through and giving greater weight to subject-matter experts revealed the error of some members’ thinking. Each team debated to achieve consensus. Team Blue proved the most democratic, even resorting to a vote. I’m proud to say, no one died.

When the Going Gets Tough

A two-part brain teaser and puzzle energized the left brainers among us, while causing the right brainers to back up and give their colleagues mental space to work. Our finance manager transformed from her usual cool-and-collected self to a fierce-and-focused competitor, but she was not alone. Each team had at least one math wiz. Turns out that while numbers turn off some, they speak others’ love language.

The White Team was the first to discover that no one could win without negotiation – as the teams’ puzzle pieces were intermingled. That led to some funny conversations as it became a game of who to trust. Our takeaways, ask for help before it’s too late, and work together as it’s truly our only hope for success. Some teams lost because they kept feeling they were about to breakthrough and so didn’t want to accept help. (Sound familiar?) I was also reminded of the value of sweet talking. While I wasn’t one of the ones digging the mathematical machinations, I was in my element brokering deals.

Poolside Goal Setting

Put your feet in the water on a warm fall day, and the ideas start pouring out. How to smooth out the feast-or-famine nature of our work sparked good conversation as did ways to find our states of flow and to work in that space as much as possible. Everyone agreed that we’re doing a better job of reducing fire drills, setting expectations, kicking off projects, and doing project debriefs when done. Can we do better? Do we have ideas how we might? Yes, we do.

Time to Reflect and Refuel

We’ve always enjoyed setting goals, and then turning those into action items that we can tick off one by one in the coming months. Identifying challenges and solutions sparked input from all. We have work ahead, but it feels doable. We entered our social time feeling optimistic. And ready for cocktails.

How did this year’s retreat stack up with years past? We’ve brought in national-level consultants such as David Baker and Tim Williams. We’ve roundtabled and SWOTed. Dreamed and schemed. We’ve raced through obstacle courses at Butler Community College, built and flown balsawood planes at Exploration Place, done yoga at Botanica, slayed energy vampires in our office and learned how to foster an environment high on innovation.

While we’ve evolved through the years, at our core, we’ve remained true to our essence. Our manifesto still rings true.

Give us a challenge. Our band of highly motivated, self-directed pros go after it. We work independently and collaboratively, passionately and fearlessly. When you hear, “I work at Greteman Group,” you know that person:

    Imagines better ways

    Has your back

    Takes no shortcuts

    Listens loudly

    Shows grit and gusto

    Gets results

Together, we help brands fly high.

This retreat was more about refining processes than transforming them. And remembering the very real value of communication and collaboration. We can’t win without them. And without each other.

Check out our photo gallery on Facebook to see more of our retreat goings on.

Personal Branding Panel at The Thread

I recently joined a panel of women business professionals at the Thread to talk about personal branding. I really enjoyed the opportunity to get a hold of this big juicy topic. Fellow speakers included Tammy Allen, CMO for Foulston Siefkin; Jillian Carroll, host of KSN TV’s Good Day Kansas; and Angela Green, Wichita Moms. Emily Juhnke, VP of marketing and communications for Keycentrix served as moderator. Most were friends before this event. All are now. Check out my lessons learned – and shared..

Q. Has it been a conscious effort to establish your brand? How have you done it, and what is the benefit?

A. In the early days when I was just starting out, personal branding was not even a thing. I just organically did it. It has always been an extension of my personality and my business. Arty, creative, opinionated, fun-loving. I love fashion, so that part was delightful and gave me an excuse to shop. After all, who is going to hire a designer who doesn’t display a current aesthetic?

Q. How do you show up as your authentic self while maintaining your brand? 

A. It’s easy because it’s one in the same. I show up as me. I might tone it down a bit occasionally, but I have found that being my authentic self works out well. Realistically, not everyone will always like you. You need to be okay with that and not try to change yourself to suit them.

Q. Are there challenges for women in particular?

A. I found that being the only women in the room for the first 20 years of my career was more of an advantage than a disadvantage. I stood out. Also, the guys seemed to like me because I spoke up and contributed. I quickly learned to be strategic in my comments. I usually chose to be the last to speak so I had time to think through my comments and refine my points. I read the room carefully and never repeated points others had already made. Today, I’m happy there are more women at the table. I enjoy our kindred spirits and ability to get stuff done. Women tend to do what they say they will do. I like that.

Q. How have you chosen boards community activities to support your brand? 

A. At this point in my career, I only choose organizations I can get fully behind. I must believe in their mission, like the leadership, and see that they are making a difference. I choose carefully and limit the number so I can show up for them with my time, my endorsement and investment.

Q. Let’s talk about social media. Boundaries? Advice?

A. I want to be taken seriously so I avoid sexy photos and save those for my husband. I take another minute to proof my work and make sure I am using active verbs and expressive words. My rule: I post interesting, well-composed, nicely lighted images. I use light retouching. I abhor goofy filters and effects. I also stay away from politics and religion. 

Q. How much does the way you physically present yourself matter? 

A. It matters. Design communicates visually in seconds. Your physical presentation also makes an immediate statement. I make a daily effort to be healthy and in good shape, making time for real foods, exercise at least four days a week, home facials, meditation and laughter. If I am stressed it shows, so I do not overbook myself like I used to. I found that lifestyle is not sustainable. I make an effort to stand out by choosing artistic, interesting clothing that not everyone else is wearing. The older I get, the more emphasis I put on comfort and fit. I like classic, quality fabrics, and easy-to-care-for clothing. Jeans and tennis shoes have become a go-to as long as they are great jeans and hip tennies. I shed high heels a decade ago and now watch women traipse through airports, ruining a beautiful stride, their posture and their feet. I also have a serious relationship with my hairdresser.

Q. What insider secrets do you want women to walk away with?

A. You have two ears and one mouth. Use them in that proportion. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Life begets life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich. 

Interested in joining The Thread, a women’s leadership collective? You can do so here.

Images courtesy of Jenelle Robinson Photography.