User experience (UX) is critical in keeping people on your website, an important signal in converting people to customers. What you may not be exploiting to its full potential is the connection between UX and SEO for even better web pages and performance. Here, we explain how you could do so.
In the very early days of the internet, to rank on page one of search results was no more than a case of designing a website and stuffing it with keywords – the content itself didn’t have to make sense.
Today, however, things are not only a little more refined but a lot more competitive too. To rank on page one takes the perfect storm of keywords, design, UX, SEO and a drop or two of other elements, too.
UX and SEO are often seen as two distinct elements, but there is now growing emphasis on the combined role that they play in placing a website before its main rivals in search results. The higher up in the rankings, the better, as 75 percent of users rarely navigate past page one of search engine results.
The online world doesn’t stay still for long. As an online business, this means constantly adapting your website so that it continues to send out the right signals to both users and search engines.
The expectations of today’s online customers have changed – a lot. Search engine algorithms, as a result, are adapted and updated so that the results they give users meet their criteria and expectations. And that’s why combining UX with SEO is an important strategy.
In the vast majority of cases, the prime reasons businesses build and maintain a website – sometimes to the tune of thousands of pounds – is to make money. With your website popping up on page one and offering the user what they are looking for, you are several steps closer to making a sale.
If the website is accessible and easy to use, it is sending more encouraging signals to the user, all of which are important in turning them into customers.
One of the main drivers behind buying online is trust. Users of a website will look for various “trust signals,” such as customer and product reviews. But if they can’t or don’t find your website, then all these important signals of UX are lost.
In other words, the optimization of your site needs to be in line with current algorithms from various search engines as well as meet customer expectations in terms of design, reviews, price point, offers and so on.
Today’s customer is well-informed. They are highly likely to have researched solutions to a problem they have and to have found out in some depth about potential solutions. This means that when they arrive on your site, they are relatively knowledgeable about the product or service they are looking for. This applies across industries, from retail to niche markets such as engineering.
Great SEO and UX can hardly be separated at this point. Without an optimized site with a great structure, your user-friendly pages backed with informative and useful content won’t be found. Even with great SEO and high page rankings, if your website is not designed to entice and keep hold of users for longer than a few seconds, they’ll navigate away – an act that damages website performance.
There are key steps you want users to take when they land on your website, a journey that is guided and signposted by excellent UX. When users like your site – when it meets or exceeds expectations – they stay on your site and interact with it. This action alone speaks volumes to search engine bots and crawlers.
When users don’t find your site a great experience, they navigate away – and quickly too, in some cases. This is a metric called bounce rate – it refers to when someone lands on your website, stays for a matter of seconds and navigates away. The higher this figure, the more of a problem you have.
You need to understand the actions people take when they arrive on your website and why they do what they do. If your SEO is working, you are making important steps into getting onto page one of search results.
And you want to stay there. If people are not lingering for long on your website, you need to know why. This could be a case of updating content, optimizing page loading times, adding content, culling content, a confusing layout and uncertainty where to go next and more.
There are several trends in SEO and UX that many experts believe will become even more important. Some remain similar to what we already know, such as high-quality content. But there are other trends that propose to create an even stronger link between SEO and UX.
UX and technical SEO is one of those trends. Technical SEO is the process of optimizing a website for crawling and indexing. Under this banner are aspects such as load speeds and page templates. What this effectively means is that Google and other search engines may be giving more attention to the build and foundation of a website and how this affects people using the site and their behavior.
There are many companies with the specialized skills to dig deep into the background and structure of your website to improve aspects of SEO. Web designers can help to boost the user experience of your website. But there are things you can look at yourself too:
We don’t think of algorithms as being human, nor search engines. This means that context is sometimes lacking. In other words, even with a perfect algorithm, the results users sometimes see on page one are not what they expect or want.
Slowly, this lack of context is being improved, with both UX and SEO proving invaluable. Clearly, optimizing your site for both people and search engines is key to maintaining its performance and ranking.
SEO and UX are strong bedfellows. When their partnership is optimized, they will have a tremendously positive impact on your online business.