Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the top areas of focus for digital marketing professionals today. SEO combines all of the factors that influence a site’s position in search engine results and optimizes each webpage to include content that reflects these factors.
Search engine marketing and optimization is a vital marketing tool to drive traffic to your site and drive conversions and sales. The good news is that there are many ways of optimizing your site to rank highly on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Chatbots are an increasingly popular tool for eCommerce brands and are often a missed opportunity when it comes to SEO.
What is a chatbot?
A chatbot is a piece of software that you can install into your website that a customer can use to answer their questions. Using chatbots in customer service is now becoming very popular, because they are a convenient and lower-cost option to improve customer experience and boost SEO rankings.
When you introduce a chatbot, your site will typically feature an icon at the bottom of the screen, or perhaps as a popup. Customers can open the chatbot and ask a question or make a product enquiry, connected either to a service team or an AI program.
A chatbot that directs to a service team will connect your customers with a customer service representative at your company, or a dedicated chatbot provider. They are typically useful for more complex products and customer complaints or issues.
An AI chatbot uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to answer customer queries without the need for a customer service rep. Although generally lower-cost and very convenient, AI bots tend to be used for straightforward or predetermined questions.
You may even use both – an AI chatbot can direct a customer to the right department, where a rep can then pick it up.
AI chatbots are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Many now offer integration with CRM systems, like Jira and HubSpot integration. This means that you can further streamline your customer operations and keep all of your customer data in one place.
A note on natural language processing
AI chatbots use machine learning to learn from previous searches and data to better understand user queries. Natural language processing is a feature of certain AI systems that allows users to input questions in their own words.
Previously, search engines like Google ignored connecting words like ‘and’ and ‘with’, but now these systems recognize that people speak using these words. Search engines now take these words into consideration with keywords and search terms.
It’s important that your chatbot allows users to ask questions using natural language, and that it is able to quickly and accurately process whole phrases and not just keywords. As a bonus, often, this customer interaction can also be analyzed to discover extra keywords and be fed back into your SEO strategy. You can work with a chatbot development company to create an NLP chatbot. Another option is using a staff augmentation service to find R, Python, or Java developers.
4 benefits of chatbots in SEO
Chatbots are enjoying widespread use across the eCommerce industry for customer service, but they are also having an underappreciated impact on SEO. These are some of the main benefits of chatbots to boost your SEO and start ranking highly.
The point of a chatbot is to allow customers to engage with your brand. Using a chatbot or similar on-page customer service tool will increase dwell time – the time that customers spend on a particular page – and engage them in real-time conversation.
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Engaged users with a high dwell time have an extremely positive impact on your SEO and rankings. Search engines see this as proof that your site is providing valuable information that other users using those search terms will want to see.
A higher dwell time almost always drives down the bounce rate of your site as well, which is good news for an SEO strategy.
An AI chatbot can help to improve return visitor rates on your website, which will positively impact your rankings from SEO. These tools are designed to quickly provide customers with relevant information, so it’s not hard to see why users will keep coming back.
There isn’t a set figure for return visitor rates that will positively impact your SEO. It’s good to keep this rate as high as possible because search engines recognize this as evidence of high-quality information and will prioritize your site in search engine results.
An improved and optimized user experience is recommended to boost your SEO. A positive user experience is likely to result in more organic traffic, which is prioritized by search engine algorithms.
In addition, chatbots for SEO can collect large sets of user data, including common query terms and issues. You can then either fix these issues, resulting in a more positive brand experience for your customers, or you can optimize your web pages around these search terms.
For example, a user searching for how to use one of your products may get the answers they need through a chatbot. However, it is best in the long term if you provide this information on your site without customers having to seek it out or providing an alternative contact method like a Dialpad virtual phone system.
You can use previous search terms and user behavior data to optimize your web content for SEO keyphrases and user brand experience. To make this process easier, you can also use a keyword research tool to find popular search terms related to your industry and incorporate them into your chatbot responses and website content.
User reviews and ratings have a huge impact on your search engine rankings. Employing a chatbot to improve customer experience and add value to their interactions with your brand can boost your online ratings, which in turn boosts your SERPs rankings.
Remember to back up this great service in other areas of your business with equipment like a virtual PBX system, or even the most effective chatbot will have a minimal impact.
Some things to avoid
Boosting your SEO ranking with chatbots can be a great tool in your arsenal and improve customer experience.
However, there are things you need to avoid in order to provide your customers with the best possible service and to avoid damaging your SEO ranking.
Chatbots are an additional piece of software in your site, often in the form of a plugin. Although useful, they can easily slow down your website because of the extra pressure on your servers.
A slow-loading website can harm your search engine rankings for many different reasons, the main ones being poor mobile capabilities and a negative user experience.
A poor user experience may lead to a high exit rate within the first few seconds of using a site, which will negatively impact rankings and site trust. You’ll need to ensure that you have a high-quality API for business that can cope with your internal software and application demands.
Mobile capabilities are being increasingly favored by SEO algorithms, which means that your site can’t afford to be slowed down by a large chatbot file.
Replacing human communication
AI chatbots are very useful for answering common consumer questions and directing customers to the right page or department. It can be tempting to replace all elements of your on-page customer service with AI and chatbot features, but this can leave customers feeling frustrated and unheard.
Try to differentiate between when customers have a simple query and when an issue needs to be discussed.
For example, if a customer needs to contact you regarding a shipped order, you can use an AI chatbot to gather an order number and provide them with simple tracking. If they then need to speak with someone as it hasn’t arrived or has something missing, your chatbot can then refer them to a customer service representative.
You should consider setting up a voice over IP phone system (VoIP) as a dedicated customer service line. These systems remove the need for traditional hardware, allows you to store CRM data in a dedicated space, and lets all of your team access a central phone line.
Poor chatbot navigation can take a number of different forms. The most frustrating for customers tend to be a poor in-app experience, wherein it is difficult to navigate the chatbot itself or when accessing the chatbot is difficult or intrusive.
We’ve all used websites where the functionality is obscured by an aggressive chatbot. You’re trying to read information, and a chat window pops up. It’s large and almost impossible to close easily. They may seem like a great customer experience strategy, but it is likely to cause frustration and lose your customer’s interest if chatbots aren’t executed well.
Poor in-app/software navigation can also cause frustration and weaken your plans for customer retention. If a user cannot get the information that they need easily, then they may take on a negative view of your brand.
Ultimately, poor navigation in chatbots of any kind can negatively impact your brand image and identity.
Chatbots are an excellent customer service tool that have amazing applications for SEO and brand awareness. Incorporating an AI chatbot into your website can help you to optimize your pages and gain valuable customer insight, giving your customers the experience that they expect.
If you’re considering incorporating a chatbot into your strategy, be sure to avoid overly complicated systems that aren’t customer-friendly and that slow down your website.