“UX & SEO are like chocolate & whiskey: even better when together!”, according to Rand Fishkin, the founder of US-based SEO software development company Moz. And who are we to argue?
While great SEO used to be all about rankings, that’s now a bygone era. Stuffing copy with keywords will no longer make the cut as far as Google is concerned, which is bad news for the spammers who once dominated the field – and good news for those who create websites that focus on actually providing people with what they want.
Evolutions in search engine algorithms mean that the focus is now on designing websites that captivate, entertain and ultimately convert visitors – but that’s sometimes easier said than done. Interested in finding out how you can improve your website by combining SEO and UX? Read on:
How SEO Can Help You Improve UX
The easiest way to look at the connection between SEO and UX is this: SEO focuses on a customer’s journey before and after they arrive on a website, and UX on what happens while they’re actually browsing it. It’s therefore essential to combine the two in order to create a seamless experience from beginning to end.
A vast majority of browsing experiences begin with a search. By working with keyword data provided by SEO rather than restricting decision-making to focus groups or trial and error, UX designers can create better experiences by tailoring the customer journey to what people are searching for and how they are searching for it. At the same time, search data can help teams pick up on problems such as broken links and page errors in real-time and quickly resolve them. This is a major benefit, as what works for website A won’t necessarily do the same for website B: in today’s highly competitive search landscape, you don’t want to realize weeks down the line that something is not the way it should be.
How UX Can Contribute to Great SEO
If you think about the website you most enjoy browsing, it’s likely that a multitude of different factors come into play: maybe you like its fresh and clean layout, quick loading time, good photography and judicious use of video. That’s because you’re a human being rather than a search engine. The latter obviously isn’t able to judge a website based on the same criteria as you, but what it can do is take into account the amount of time you spend on a site, and whether you link to it, share its content and return to it. Basically, Google analyses user behavior in order to deduce a given site’s credibility and rank it accordingly.
UX factors that impact SEO include (among others) website navigation. Sitemaps are a good way to improve this, as are chatbots that can greet users when they come to your homepage before pointing them in the direction of products or content they could be interested in. Further UX plus points include quick loading time, responsive design, easy-to-read text and use of images – all are worth paying attention to in order to help improve your rankings.
Bringing UX and SEO Together: A Few Simple Tweaks
If you’re implementing good SEO practices, it’s likely that you’re on the right path from the UX perspective as well. Clear, well-laid-out content written in a conversational tone, proper heading settings and use of image tags are all factors that boost SEO and make for good user experience:
Headings belong to SEO basics, but they also improve readability and help users make their way around a page by structuring content and making it easier to understand.
Image tags not only give you the opportunity to use your target keywords, but also provide the visitor with information when an image doesn’t load.
Copy should be long enough – let’s say at least 600 words – in order to ensure in-depth content that provides users with the answers they’re looking for.
Simple UX steps that tie into SEO include:
Page load time: When confronted with pages that take too much time to load, users tend to refresh a couple of times before losing patience and heading elsewhere. This is obviously something that’s not going to look great from Google’s point of view.
Mobile responsiveness: Google rolled out mobile-first indexing in 2018 with good reason – nowadays mobile makes up over half of the market share, which means it’s in your interest to ensure that users have a pleasant experience from whatever device they choose to browse.
Interactive content: Not only do users enjoy the content that diverges from the usual static text, but content such as quizzes, interactive infographics, and chatbots can also provide information about products and services and help them find their way around your site.
In a nutshell, paying attention to both SEO and UX is the secret to designing great websites that are looked on favorably both by search engines and visitors – and it’s relatively easy to do. What are you waiting for to get started?
|Michael Deane is one of the editors of Qeedle , a small business magazine. When not blogging (or working), he can usually be spotted on the track, doing his laps, or with his nose deep in the latest John Grisham.|