More and more websites and companies are now adopting chatbots as a way to improve customer support and engagement: by enabling personalized, automated, and natural interactions 24/7, chatbots can keep the visitors for longer on the website while answering their questions.
However, do you know that implementing chatbots can also help the site’s SEO performance? In this guide, we will show you how.
Let us begin, however, by discussing the definition and concept of chatbots so that we are on the same page.
What Is a Chatbot?
A chatbot is essentially a software/application, typically AI-powered, that can hold a natural chat conversation with human website visitors. With advancements in AI and machine learning, chatbots can perform very natural and realistic exchanges and can answer basic to moderately complex questions.
As a result, companies can now run 24/7 customer support without needing to hire more human employees while at the same time providing a satisfactory user experience.
Essentially a chatbot can perform four core things when conversing with a website visitor:
- Greeting the visitor (i.e. “Hi there, I’m XYZ, your chatbot, how can I help?”)
- Explaining what the website/business do
- Answering questions and asking (preliminary) questions (i.e. “what is your budget?”). If the visitor provides certain answers, the chatbot might pass this visitor to a human sales rep/customer service
- Providing information and simple services
Chatbots are great at engaging visitors because visitors don’t have to put in too much effort and don’t have to leave the page. The visitor can get real-time assistance when they have any issues, and at the same time, the website owner can save time and costs while improving efficiencies.
How Chatbots Affect SEO Performance?
Thanks to Google’s RankBrain, their AI-powered algorithm, launched back in 2015, Google now takes account of user experience metrics in ranking a website.
For example, if a web page that is ranked#1 for a certain keyword doesn’t get too many clicks compared to the page ranked #3, then Google can understand the context of this phenomenon that users simply prefer the #3 web page. As a result, Google will demote the #1 web page and promote the #3 web page.
One of the metrics that Google especially pays attention to, however, is how long a visitor stays on a website, or simply, dwell time. The longer a visitor stays on a website, Google will understand that this website is indeed relevant for the visitor, and will recommend this website more.
Another important metric that is closely related to dwell time is bounce rate.
Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your website after viewing just a single page, which essentially sending a signal to Google that your site isn’t relevant.
If your site’s bounce rate is high while the dwell time is low, then your SERP ranking won’t improve.
So, how can chatbots help with this?
Simple, chatbots, as we know, enhance user experience and user interface to keep your visitors engaged. This will keep the visitors to stay on the website longer (increasing dwell time). Also, chatbots can direct the website visitors to other pages (i.e. “Are you interested to check out our latest product?” while giving a link to the new product’s landing page), lowering the bounce rate.
How To Optimize Your Chatbot to Help Your SEO Performance
As discussed, chatbots mainly help your website’s SEO performance by improving your visitor’s dwell time while reducing bounce rate, and here are what you can do to achieve this:
1. Build To Engage
A very common mistake done by a lot of websites using chatbots is that they don’t engage their customers very well.
When customers find your chatbots detached from your brand’s personality, then they won’t be engaged, and your mission of improving dwell time and reducing bounce rate will fail. So, it’s very important to design and build your chatbot to match your customer’s expectations about your brand.
Try to predict your visitor’s journey on your website, and ensure your chatbot can provide the right answers and ask the right questions according to this journey. For example, if you expect a visitor to have concerns about your product’s price, anticipate it, and offer a limited-time discount instead.
By personalizing your service according to their needs, you can keep them engaged for longer on your website.
2. Make Sure The Chatbot Won’t Affect Page Speed
The chatbot performs its operation by using the website’s resources. So, if not configured well, it can slow down your website performance instead.
According to Google, people will leave a web page if it loads in more than three seconds. That is, slow page speed will affect both dwell time and bounce rate. So, make sure the chatbot script is implemented and configured properly.
First, you can use tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights, GTMetrix, and others to check your website’s speed performance. These tools can potentially detect if there’s a problem with your chatbot script that might hinder your site’s speed performance.
An important configuration is to make sure that the chatbot is handled by external servers instead of your webserver to separate the load.
3. Lead Generation and Data Collection
While this won’t directly affect your website’s SEO performance, you can program the chatbot to collect important data from visitors. In turn, the chatbot can use this data to nurture the visitor until they are finally ready to purchase your product/service.
You can use this data collection capability to help with your other SEO campaigns. For example, you can create more optimized content to cater to this visitor’s needs, which will indirectly improve your website’s dwell time and other SEO-related performance.
Obviously, you can also use this information to reach out and contact leads when they leave your site quickly (i.e. high bounce rate) to figure out their issues and make the necessary adjustments.
4. Use Chatbots To Leverage More Positive Reviews
Another factor that will indirectly help boost your site’s SEO performance is positive reviews, and when they are satisfied after getting the answers they need from your chatbot, you can ensure a positive experience, which will translate into a higher chance for them leaving a high star rating or positive reviews for your products/services.
Also, if you are a brick-and-mortar or local business, this can help your Google My Business/Google Maps performance.
The basic idea of using and leveraging chatbots to improve your site’s SEO performance is to improve user experience so they stay longer on your website (higher dwell time), and above we have discussed some of the effective ways we can implement and optimize the chatbot to achieve this benefit.
Remember that the bigger objective of SEO isn’t solely about ranking higher, but rather to provide better information and more overall value for your customers. This is exactly where chatbots can also help, and they should be a part of the SaaS SEO strategy in 2021.