SEO and User Experience Guideline: How To Make Them Work Together
Are you struggling to implement SEO and user experience strategies on your website? Maybe you understand SEO and you understand the concept of user experience (UX), but combining them together? How does that work?
Well, there was a time when all you needed to do to rank on Google was SEO (search engine optimisation). This was in the early days of the internet however, when SEO meant stuffing your site with keywords and watching the dollars rolling into your bank account. User experience was not even in our vocabulary.
However, when search engines use hundreds of factors to determine which websites should rank in the results pages, you need to up your game. Essentially, you need to use SEO best practices to increase user engagement and conversions on your website, but how do you do that?
What is SEO?
SEO is concerned with increasing the visibility of your website to the search engines so that it will be ranked higher in the results pages. It involves a lot of strategies that help search engines understand the topic of your website and web pages, enabling them to match a shopper’s keywords with the best web pages. Search engines want to give shoppers a good user experience.
What is the user experience?
User experience refers to a shopper’s interaction with your website. It’s how they engage with your brand online. If you can fulfil the needs of shoppers on your website, then you have given them a good user experience.
What is user experience design?
User experience design is where a developer designs your website to enhance the user experience. After all, a website’s success depends on how visitors perceive it to be. So shoppers will ask themselves – is this website easy to use? Does it answer my questions? Does it give me value? UX design consists of many factors, all of which focus around system performance, accessibility, utility and usability. It’s a vast field and many people specialise in UX design because it’s so interesting and challenging.
To put it in a nutshell, you could say that SEO deals with enhancing search engine interactions with your website, whilst UX enhances a visitor’s experience. Combining these two concepts. However, is vital if you want your website to rank highly in the results pages. This is because search engines now include UX metrics in their ranking algorithms. If your website has a poor user experience, it doesn’t matter how much SEO you throw at it, it won’t rank well in the results pages.
How does UX design impact SEO?
User experience can have a profound impact on your website’s SEO making your site more accessible and crawlable by search bots. When search bots can easily access and crawl your website, it makes it easier to rank higher, all things being equal. User experience also helps to make your site more searchable, credible and desirable to consumers.
Implementing SEO and user experience ideas on your website
All of this means that you must focus on both SEO and user experience. After all, search engines want to give consumers the best online experience, presenting them with the information they are searching for online. Your website also wants to give consumers the best experience on your website, ensuring that it will keep returning. So both SEO and user experience design has the same goals. The problem is how do you achieve both of these goals at the same time?
The trick is to select a number of SEO elements that can also be optimised for consumers. Here are seven actions you can take today that will enhance SEO and user experiences on your website.
1. Improve page loading times
Whilst Google now includes page loading times in their algorithms (so it should definitely be in your SEO arsenal), it’s also one of the best user experience ideas. Consumers don’t have the patience to wait whilst your pages take forever to load and will quickly click out and go somewhere else (your competition for example). In fact, just a one-second delay in loading your page can reduce your page views by 11%, and if it doesn’t load in 2 seconds or less, nearly 50% of your visitors will click away.
If your website has a lot of traffic, it might be worthwhile using your own dedicated server, as this will help to speed up loading times. So talk to your web host and try to negotiate a good deal for your own server, as this is a critical component of both SEO and user experience.
2. Perform keyword research
The right keywords are essential for SEO and your visitors. For SEO, keywords help search engines to match visitors with your web pages, and if visitors find what they are looking for on your pages, they make a purchase and increase your revenue. Knowing the keywords consumers use to find your products or services can also help you to write better content that perfectly matches their needs. When shoppers are happy, everyone’s happy!
3. Use more enticing metadata
Just because another website ranks higher in the results pages, doesn’t mean that you won’t get the click! It’s all about writing better and more enticing title tags and meta descriptions, designed to lure searchers onto your website. Of course, you must deliver the goods at that point, but if you can catch a consumer’s eye as they skim down the results page, they may be more inclined to click on your website than the website above.
4. Write better headlines
Once consumers are on your website, you need to make it easy for them to find the information they need. Headings are a great way to help visitors skim down your web page to confirm that they have landed on the right page. As you already know, visitors tend to skim down a page, before settling in to read more or click away.
This makes it vital that you use your headings to their best effect – engaging your visitors and explaining clearly the content of the page. One tip at this point is to only use one <H1> tag on any page, as this lets search engines and visitors know the general topic of the page. Other headings, such as <H2>, <H3>, and so on, can be used as required throughout the content.
5. Focus on user-friendly navigation
Search engines need to find their way around your website, as do visitors. So user-friendly navigation is one of the basic tenets of both search engine and user experience design. Search engines use your navigation as a roadmap, so they can match a searcher’s keywords with your content. Visitors are happy that their search has pulled up the content they wanted when they typed in their keywords.
It’s also important to remember that many of your site’s visitors won’t enter your site via the homepage, so they need to easily navigate your website from whatever page they landed on. Finally, if you create navigation that’s very user-friendly, you can even earn bonus site links in the results pages, where these links take searchers directly to specific pages on your site. These site links can include the login page, product comparison pages, careers, and so on; pages that search engines believe enhance user experience.
6. Enhance the mobile experience
Whilst we have been talking about SEO and user experience, we can’t forget about the mobile experience, because it’s highly relevant to both search engines and user experience. A website that’s mobile-friendly has now become essential to consumers, but that doesn’t just mean that it’s a responsive design with fast loading pages. In fact, Google now ranks your mobile website as your main site, so it’s now more than ever, essential to rank your mobile pages highly in the results pages. Navigation, whilst it’s important on your main website, is absolutely essential on your mobile site, where even the size of the navigation menu can be a help or a hindrance to users. Every element on your mobile website impacts the user’s experience, affecting SEO and your rankings. So you should definitely add optimising your mobile website to your user experience ideas list.
7. Optimise your content
Optimising your content is going to please both search engines and visitors to your website. That’s because search engines check your content for keywords so that they can match a shopper’s search to the best web pages. When consumers click on these links they find what they need in your content and go away happy (hopefully to return). So you can maximise user experience by writing better content and at the same time, show search engines that your content deserves to be ranked highly.
To write better content, always make sure that it’s well written and spell checked. Write long-form content to keep search engines and visitors happy and make sure that your content is original, interesting and engaging. Use responsive images and videos to get your point across, as well as to promote or demonstrate your products. Also, if you make your content actionable so that the reader now has a solution to their problem, they will be hyper-engaged and very likely to return to your website again.
For help making your website more user and search engine friendly, contact the Acid Green team.