SEO & UX – A LOVE STORY
By Kamakshi Renjen
WHAT IS SEO?
SEO (search engine optimization) is a set of techniques for enhancing the appearance and ranking of web pages in organic search results. This is different from SEM (search engine marketing), which is a strategy that uses paid methods to appear in search results. Because organic search is the most common way for people to find and access online content, an effective SEO strategy is critical for increasing the quality and quantity of traffic to your site. You can get your site to appear among the first few results on a search page by using the right keywords and following the most effective SEO strategies.
WHY IS SEO IMPORTANT?
- Most people trust the sites that appear on the first page of search results. So, with an optimized site, you increase the credibility of your site.
- Users are significantly more likely to click on search results that appear near the top of the SERP (search engine results page), so it’s critical to optimize your SEO strategy to rank relevant pages as high as possible to attract a high quantity of visitors.
- Visitors who are actively interested in the information, products or resources that your website provides are considered high-quality traffic because the web pages are relevant to them.
WHAT IS UX?
The process of how your end-user interacts with your product, service or company, especially digital products, is called user experience (UX). Usability, which refers to the ease of use or access to the product or service, is a key contributor to UX. An excellent user experience should be seamless. The goal is to create an experience that helps users accomplish their needs in the most efficient, effective, and satisfying way possible. With a strong understanding of your end-users, you can design a web experience that is solution-oriented to keep your website on the right track for continuous improvement and success.
WHY IS UX IMPORTANT?
- A well-designed UX can significantly improve conversion rates on your website.
- If you can understand a user’s path when they arrive on your website, you can continue to iterate and improve the experience, which increases user retention.
- It is significantly less costly to prevent potential usability issues or problems from the start than it is to solve them later with product redesigns or bug fixes.
HOW ARE THEY RELATED?
These two strategies might initially seem contradictory; however, these are both inextricably linked and complement each other in practice. A positive UX can help you improve your SEO ranking. In a nutshell, SEO ensures that your website is discovered. If your UX is strong, your users are more likely to convert. Without one, achieving the other is more difficult. SEO and UX design are connected and should be integrated into a single strategy.
SEO is about attracting people to your site in the first place by making sure it shows up in search queries.
Usability is about people’s behaviour after they arrive on your site, with the main goal being to increase the conversion rate.
–Nielsen Norman Group
SO, HOW CAN WE BALANCE SEO & UX DESIGN?
Let’s consider Google as the #1 search engine. Google considers several factors and uses a rigorous process to ensure that they return the most relevant and reliable results for their users. The key factors that Google uses to determine which results to return for a user query are¹:
- Meaning of the query
- Relevance of web pages
- Quality of content
- Usability of web pages
- Context and settings
Putting UX first can intrinsically help with SEO. If the website is developed with UX in mind, it tends to neatly align with Google’s ranking system, delivering the best results for the end-user. Here are some considerations for integrating the two strategies successfully.
The key to establishing a better user experience is to keep the content brief and to the point. However, if your content is too brief, search engines may struggle to understand it and not list your site in SERPs. Make sure that each page has plenty of content, but that it’s presented in an interactive and digestible way – organized in sections that users will enjoy. This strategy is especially useful for landing pages and home pages.
WEB CONTENT ACCESSIBILITY
Web accessibility means making your website and all its content, including PDFs, images and videos available to as many people as possible. Simply put, when Google identifies a page URL, it visits, or “crawls”, the webpage to see the content and index it to deliver useful search results. Screen readers are software applications that enable visually impaired or blind people to interpret text displayed on a computer screen using a voice synthesizer or braille display. When designing a user experience, it is critical to consider the wide range of needs for the wide range of user abilities, as well as the requirements of crawlers and screen readers. Some factors to consider are: a clear content hierarchy and header structure, descriptive alt text in images;,anchor text for linking, video transcriptions and site maps.
Web accessibility ensures that your content can be easily discovered and understood by your users more clearly, as well as search engines. In turn, ensuring that your web content is accessible will not only improve your user experience but also help boost your search engine rankings. Learn more about web accessibility here.
When optimizing a site for search engines, it might seem tempting to include as many relevant keywords in your content as possible, in order to increase your search engine rankings and match pages with relevant search queries. Keyword stuffing is when a webpage is saturated with keywords with the intention of ranking higher in search results. As a result, you end up writing for search engines rather than your users, to the point where much of the content may be redundant or difficult to understand. Although this practice is mostly outdated now, some websites still use this approach. Consider exploring long-tail keywords (combinations of three or more keywords) to narrow your focus and reach the right audience. Keyword research will also assist you in understanding how to structure content without keyword stuffing. Poor keyword positioning, or the redundant use of keywords, can result in a poor user experience and lower your ranking.
With the growing number of mobile users, it’s more crucial than ever to optimize your site for mobile. Following the implementation of Google’s mobile-first indexing, which Google has prioritized since 2015¹, not having a responsive site will harm your rankings. In the mobile-first indexing approach, Google uses the mobile version of your site to read information and for ranking². So, it’s important that the mobile content is readable for the Googlebot, as well as prioritizing the user experience in mobile. When building a site for mobile devices, it’s important to: define the user journey to complete a defined task, make the experience as seamless as possible and reduce the number of interactions involved, measure how easily users can complete certain tasks and use a design that is consistent across all devices, e.g. responsive web design.
To check if your website is mobile-friendly, you can use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test.
It’s no secret that our attention spans are decreasing by the minute (no pun intended). Users want to find information as quickly as possible, and how fast a page loads influences their decision-making process. Whether a user accesses a website via mobile or desktop, a slow loading speed will increase the chances of abandonment and decrease the chances of a visitor returning. Loading speed is a critical factor in Google’s ranking system, as their mission is to help deliver the best possible experience. Check out your website’s performance using PageSpeed Insights and get optimization suggestions.
A sophisticated site navigation design with several pages may allow you to improve your site’s search engine rankings. However, most visitors prefer clean sites that have intuitive and clean navigation, sometimes different way-finding methods (i.e. navigation, spotlights or search) help them find content easily. When it comes to an optimized site that provides a better user experience and performs well in search rankings, clarity is essential. The information architecture should have a clear navigation scheme that points to these pages so that search engines can determine their importance.
SUMMING IT UP
Users nowadays are more demanding than they have ever been. Brands that can provide quick, seamless web experiences will benefit. An integrated approach to your online presence can help you keep your audience happy, and, as a result, convince Google that you’re legit. With our team of science geeks, technophiles, project management ninjas, and design nerds across the Bloc Partners network, we strike a balance across roles and specialties. If you want to build a successful web experience for both humans and search engines, drop us a line!
- “How Search Algorithms Work.” Google, google.com/search/howsearchworks/algorithms. Accessed 26 Jan. 2022.
- “Rolling out the Mobile-Friendly Update | Google Search Central Blog |.” Google Developers, Google Search Central, 21 Apr. 2015, developers.google.com/search/blog/2015/04/rolling-out-mobile-friendly-update. Accessed 26 Jan. 2022.
- “Mobile-First Indexing Best Practices | Google Search Central |.” Google Developers, Google Search Central, developers.google.com/search/mobile-sites/mobile-first-indexing. Accessed 26 Jan. 2022.
Author: Kamakshi Renjen,
CPC Healthcare Communications – The BlocPartners Canada