In the wake of Google's Penguin update, the quality of your online content should be one of your top priorities. Not only can packing your pages full of high-value posts improve your presence in the natural search results, it also can go a long way toward improving customers' experience on your website.
One way you can determine which types of content you should focus on is through customer surveys. Follow these five steps to conduct effective surveys that turn up the most insightful results:
1. Do preliminary research
To create an effective survey, you want to be as targeted as possible. Simply asking readers, "What topics do you want me to write about?" may not turn up as many good ideas as asking them about specific subjects.
To decide on your topics, first go to your Google Analytics account and look at your Top 10 content pages. If you see any similarities between these articles in terms of their topics, ask your readers which ones they're most interested in.
2. Draft your questions
For best results, include no more than five to 10 questions in your surveys. Consumers generally have short attention spans, so if you bombard them with dozens of rapid-fire questions, your completion rates can drop significantly.
As you're writing your survey questions, try to let participants expand on their thoughts. "Yes or no" questions won't give you as much information as free-form text responses.
3. Offer an incentive for completing the survey
While your survey is still in the planning stages, you may want to come up with an incentive to encourage readers to answer all of the questions. Many websites offer a small discount or a downloadable white paper to motivate people to participate.
If you do decide to offer an incentive, think through how you'll distribute it to readers. Sending incentives to participants can be time consuming, so look for a survey program like SurveyMonkey that lets you automate the follow-up process.
4. Set up your survey
Now, it's time to set up the program that will record your answers. If you're a skilled programmer, you may be able to code your own survey response form and embed it in your website. Alternatively, you can check out data collection programs such as SurveyMonkey or KwikSurveys if you'd rather use an automated approach, or you'd like to take advantage of features you may not be able to code yourself.
Both of these tools enable you to set up simple customer feedback forms for free. SurveyMonkey also offers paid plans if you're interested in more advanced features, such as the automated follow-up described above. SurveyMonkey's plans start at $17 a month for a "Select" membership.
5. Publicize your survey to readers
Once your survey is ready to go, get the word out to your readers by advertising it on:
• Your website
• At the end of your blog posts
• Within your email marketing messages
• On your social media profiles
• In your email signature
Remember that readers may not have time to take your survey when they first see it mentioned. It's important to advertise it in multiple places to ensure the highest possible completion rates.
As responses come in, evaluate them and where appropriate, make changes to your website or your digital marketing plan. Responding to this feedback will show your readers that you value their insights, and it will go a long way toward achieving your search engine optimization goals.