Heat maps have been a cornerstone of the digital marketing scene for some time.

They are an important tool to help marketers understand user interaction with a website.

Use them to find out what types of images best grab your audience's attention or whether they are having trouble navigating your website.

In this post, you will learn how you can use heat maps to improve your SEO strategy.

What is a heat map?

Heatmaps are data visualization tools that help website owners understand how well a particular page works.

The idea is to make it easier for users to visualize complex data sets by displaying values ​​with color.

Heatmaps measure user behavior on a scale from red to blue, with the warmest color indicating the highest engagement and the coolest the areas with the lowest engagement.

It is also worth noting that there are different types of heat maps that you can use to measure the activity of websites.

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Here is a brief overview of some of the most common examples:

  • Scroll cards: Keep track of how far readers made it on the page before being dropped off. The redder the area, the more people read it.
  • Click cards: Track where users click most often. These can be internal links, the navigation bar, logos, images, CTA buttons and everything that appears to be clickable.
  • Hover cards: Track where users move the cursor on the page. This shows hotspots where users pause most frequently.

Now that we've covered some basic information about the heat map, let's move on to some ways you can use heat maps to take your SEO strategy to the next level.

1. Learn more about user intent

Visual analysis offers a unique opportunity to learn more about the behavior of the audience.

Another thing you can do with heatmaps is to find out which parts of the page are playing the most.

What content do people care about and which sections do they scroll without stopping?

At what point do users fail?

You can also try to find out which menu options and filters are best played. This way you can determine which topics your audience is most interested in.

This data can then be used to inform your PPC campaigns as well as future landing pages and blog posts.

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Compare heat map data with paid search data to find keyword opportunities that you can use to inform your content strategy, ad copy, social posts, etc.

It can also be worth checking Google Analytics for bounce rates and dwell times.

Your goal here is to find out how many people are visiting the site and then exit because something is missing or the content is not relevant.

2. Optimize page layout

In many cases we try to control the page structure to the best of our knowledge.

Sure, the importance of things like H2s, H3s, and white space came to mind.

However, there are literally hundreds of factors that contribute to a great user experience.

The most common way to use heatmaps is to understand how customers interact with on-page elements such as CTA buttons, where there is friction, and visitors move around the website.

In this picture next to each other, the picture on the left showed, for example, that visitors spent more time looking at the advertising banner on which an award program was advertised than closing the cash register.

The image on the right fixes the problem by making subtle changes that more effectively guide the user to the action they want to take.

how to use heatmaps to improve SEO

You can also use heatmaps to optimize image placement and increase conversions.

For example, here are two versions of an ecommerce landing page.

In the first version, the baby looks directly at the viewer and makes the face the strongest element on the page.

how to use heatmaps to improve SEO

In the second version, the baby looks at the web copy to make sure that visitors are paying attention to the news and the offer.

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how to use heatmaps to improve SEO

3. Use heat maps with analytics to uncover the "why" behind your metrics

With analytics platforms like Google Analytics, you can collect tons of quantitative data.

You can track pageviews, referrals, bounces, and the number of times someone has left a shopping cart.

The problem is that these findings don't say much about why consumers are taking these measures.

For example, if your heat map shows that a lot of people click a particular button but don't convert, go to your GA account to sort things out.

Navigate to Behavior> Site Content> All Pages, and then click Destination URL.

From there, you can use a heat map to understand how users interact with the landing page.

For example, you notice that most clicks are made at the bottom of the page.

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In this case, this could indicate that the information that is being searched for is far too far below the fold.

From there, you can try moving this content higher up on the page and testing whether this change affects conversions.

4. Combine heat maps with on-page surveys

Heat maps help you identify points of friction, design issues, and other opportunities that your audience may not raise in a survey or review.

By collecting feedback from multiple sources, you can get a clearer picture of how users relate to your website.

Try using heat maps to uncover design issues on certain pages, then use on-site surveys to ask visitors to share their feedback on this page.

  • What could you add or change?
  • What was your experience like?

Remember that you want to make sure that you approach this strategy individually. Otherwise, it is too difficult to analyze your data and implement the recommended changes.

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5. Determine the optimal content length

However, Google has long insisted that the number of words is not synonymous with high quality content.

You want to focus on giving users the answers they want, not just taking up more space.

How well does each page match the search queries of your target group?

You can use heat maps to determine how much information your customers need on a specific topic.

Use a scroll map to find out where users drop the page.

how to use heatmaps to improve SEO

Did you answer a question above and don't readers have to scroll any further?

Or do readers search for information and then fall away after realizing that you are not providing the information they were hoping for?

While the heat map itself doesn't provide the full answer here, you should first figure out where people are staying and then see what they do next.

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  • Are you finally leaving your website or have you found what you need and are going into the purchase phase?
  • What do your competitors cover on similar sites?
  • What can you do to do something better?

6. Improve your internal linking strategy

Internal links are important so that Googlebot can better understand the structure of your website.

From Google’s perspective, the anchor text that you use to link to different parts of your website provides more context for what this landing page is about.

In addition, you can use internal links to distribute link justice between pages and set up a content hierarchy in which the most important pages receive the highest value.

For companies that haven't given much thought to internal links, trying to improve links between pages can be a quick way to improve your rankings.

For marketers who rely on content as their website grows, the internal link offers the ability to strengthen authority on key issues and group content into “cornerstones” or “pillar” pages and subtopics.

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How can heat maps help?

The advantage of using heat maps to measure the performance of internal links is that they provide specific information about where users click.

Users can use this knowledge to optimize link placement and drive more traffic to related sites.

7. Structure your site after the purchase process

Done correctly, your website should be set up so that users can access relevant content that matches their phase on the customer journey.

This means you need to make sure that all of your links work together to promote your visitors and provide them with valuable insights so that they stay with you from awareness to purchase and beyond.

To ensure that users click the "right" content, click Maps to see which links users click.

Clicking links removes users from the page they are reading. So you want to find out whether the links embedded in your articles are relevant.

If they are irrelevant – or jump to a completely different place on the buyer's journey, you run the risk of driving them out of your website entirely.

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When rating each page, look at what happens after the user clicks on an internal link.

Ask yourself the following questions to determine relevance:

  • How much time do you spend on the new site?
  • How far do they scroll?
  • Do you continue to research your content?
  • Does the session end when the user takes action?

8. Identify confusing elements that cause friction

Another advantage of using heatmaps is that website owners get specific information about what elements are confusing to users.

Have you ever visited a website where items looked clickable but didn't help you get to the next page?

It's annoying, isn't it?

Well, your customers feel the same way.

Items that appear to be "clickable" may not seem that big of a deal, but they do indicate that the structure of a page is not what you expected.

Clickmaps help you identify the areas where customers expect links, and you can go back and add them to meet your audience's expectations.

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In addition to non-clickable items, you can use heat maps to identify other signs that users are not getting them.

Remember to float in strange places for a long time or in a high number of drop-offs on a certain page.

Make a list of all the vulnerabilities you encounter on each page, and as you improve each area, check to see if bounce rates and conversions improve.

Ultimately, you want to make sure that you pay attention to issues that prevent your audience from converting – be it a bad checkout experience, images that look like buttons, or an intricate copy.

9. Improve your outbound linking strategy

It may not seem intuitive, but inserting outbound links in your content is good for search engine optimization.

While some website owners fear that following this advice will drive users away, referencing legitimate sources shows readers (and search engines) that you want to provide useful information regardless of where it comes from.

The links you include in your web copy can play an important role in how your audience perceives your content, according to Stanford University research.

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Link to spam sites and your credibility goes out the window.

Where do heat maps come into play?

There are actually several options.

For one thing, you can try using a click card to find out which links get the most clicks.

This way you can find out which links your audience is most interested in – which websites / institutions do you consider the most credible / interesting?

Second, you can also use a scrolling card to analyze your content.

For example, you may find that readers drop out after the appearance of an outbound link that they consider spam or irrelevant.

If so, link a better source and see if the situation improves.

If not, it's worth checking how you can make the rest of the piece more engaging.

Wrap up

By knowing how your visitors interact with the content, structure, and on-page elements of your website, you can develop a strategy that allows users to stay, read a blog, and ultimately convert more often.

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Heatmaps serve as an ideal starting point to enable marketers to identify problems that cause friction and new opportunities to increase traffic and conversions.

However, you should not rely solely on heat maps for research purposes.

They are one of many tools that come together to improve your understanding of the buyer's experience.

More resources:

Image credits

In-Post Image No. 1: Convince and convert
In post picture no.2: VWO
In post picture no.3: UXmag

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