A Publisher’s Guide to Walking the UX/SEO Tightrope

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If you’re a website publisher trying to monetize with ads, then you always have to ask yourself: What makes my website valuable to advertisers?

Don’t be surprised that there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Building a site that provides measurable value to advertisers is a multifaceted game. It requires a strategy that attracts a constant influx of website visitors while also providing your core audience with the positive user experience (UX) they expect.

Get Found
If your site doesn’t attract visitors, it won’t have advertising value—plain and simple. It’s important to build a strong SEO foundation so your site starts appearing in your targeted search results.

One of the most dependable strategies to improve SEO value is to develop keyword-dense content (up to a point) that your target users search for. Preferably, that content would be centered around high-traffic, low-competition phrases.

Diversity of content is also important. For instance, if you’re running a site for triathletes, you might not want to just focus all of your content around triathlons—consider breaking out into the topics of swimming, running, biking, nutrition, and general fitness. This can help you attract a broader base of advertisers as well, which will lead to higher bids and more revenue overall.

Think Beyond the Crawlers
While traditional SEO is an important element of a balanced ad publishing strategy, there are other issues at play. Most notably, search engine rankings are no longer determined exclusively by algorithms, so ad publishers can capitalize on this by crafting engaging, optimized content for people—not bots. This can have a measurable impact in how search engines evaluate your site’s SEO value.

In the not-too-distant past, using dynamic code like JavaScript and jQuery provided site owners with little findability benefit, as algorithms primarily examined a site’s HTML code to determine its value. This wasn’t ideal for ad publishers, as JavaScript, jQuery, and Flash, all provide a rich user experience but required lots of extra coding legwork to produce search value.

But today, Google currently employs human search quality raters, who manually visit websites and evaluate their SEO value. This is good news for publishers looking to enhance the user experience while still providing value to advertisers. Although we certainly don’t recommend embedding some of your site’s most valuable content in a Flash animation, publishers can now invest in a richer, more interactive user experience—with some payoff, instead of none.

If your SEO strategy isn’t enough, it can be tempting to buy cheap traffic from other ad networks. Keep in mind, there are many bad sources of traffic out there that utilize bots or spam to drive illegitimate site visits. Quality should always be in question, so make sure it’s a trusted network first (hint: Advertise.com is a good choice!). We recommend you isolate and test any traffic you buy—just like you would with an ad monetization campaign—before you commit.

Be User Friendly
While findability is important, it’ll all be for naught without a rich user experience. The keys to great UX typically include:

  • Effectiveness – Can users engage the way they want to on your site?
  • Layout – Is your content too cluttered, or clear and simple to use?
  • Navigation – Is your site easy to navigate?
  • Load Speed – Will visitors leave your site because it takes too long to load?
  • Learnability – How easy is it to learn how to use your site?
  • Satisfaction – Do users like the site and recommend it to others?


Shari Thurow offers a great overview on the elements of user experience over at Marketingland. For instance, from an organic search perspective, you should consider whether your site can be described by the adjectives in the “User Experience Honeycomb.”

Giving your visitors a positive user experience also has long-term benefits: It leads to a lower bounce rate, better click-through rates, and more conversions for advertisers (which leads to higher bids for the ad space). That means in the long-run, you’ll generate more revenue per site visitor!

Walking the Tightrope
As structured and complex as an online ad monetization campaign can be, advertising is still about people and their wants. And as a publisher, it’s your job to please everybody. Provide your core users with a useful, positive experience. Provide advertisers with quality visitors and broad reach. And if you get the balance right, you’ll find substantial revenue gains that will please the most important party of all: You, the publisher.

Since 2001, Advertise.com has offered competitive online advertiser and publisher solutions to companies around the globe. Our mission is to help advertisers achieve their best ROI with quality, cost-effective ad units, as well as provide our publishers with monetization tools that yield the most revenue.

Contact us to learn more.