Search engines have been increasingly emphasizing UX, stating that traditional SEO strategies are a simply supporting role. For years we have ignored Google’s philosphy while trying to impress Google by designing websites to appeal to search bots and that are stuffed to the brim with keywords. However, this goes directly against what Google is asking us to do. Very first on Google’s list of 10 Things We Know To Be True, is the philosophy stating – “Focus on the user and all else will follow.” Google pays attention to website’s UX, just as they do to backlinks, keywords, content, etc. Accordingly, UX is the new way to optimize sites for search engines and many user experience strategies go hand in hand to improve your website’s search engine optimization goals.
The Purpose of UX
The purpose of UX is simple. We spend dollars and hours improving our website’s experience for the user, to:
- Ensure that visitors can easily find what they are looking for
- Turn visitors into returning visitors
- and, increase conversion rates
In order to do this we use techniques, such as:
- Responsive, mobile-friendly designs
- Quality, up to date content
- Quick page loading speeds
- Enticing visuals
- A navigable design
- and, simple contact forms
UX Strategies to Improve SEO
When building a company website, our key goal is to attract visitors and convert them into customers. We want to create an experience that draws people in, sparks their interest, meets their needs, answers their problems and encourages them to convert. Unique and satisfying user experience for your visitors is key. However, we all lose time to user experience by trying to optimize our websites for Google and Bing, and lose focus about what matters most. Designing for the user is more valuable then designing solely for SEO – your customers are more important then search robots. Your UX can boost your SEO strategy if you:
Create Quality Content that is Written for People
User experience and the quality of your content have an incredibly expansive impact on your SEO endeavor. Think Google’s Panda Algorithm, released in February 2011 or more recently Google’s Search Quality Update released in May 2015. Paying attention to your users, and posting quality content that is well written, relevant and informative can also benefit your website’s visibility on search engines. Further, ensuring that you output fresh information will improve your user’s time on your site and improve your websites visibility by adhering to Google’s Freshness algorithm requirements. Tip: To offer up-to-date information, engage with visitors using blog posts or by consistently updating products and services, etc.
Write Meta Titles for both Users and Robots
We all know that the general rule for meta titles is – 70(ish) characters for page titles and 150(ish) for descriptions and that we should have a keyword strategy that we implement appropriately into both. By including structured data that is appropriate to your content, your site can enhance its search results. However, meta titles and descriptions are also an important part of your UX to:
- Identify the information that the website is likely to contain on a search engine page.
- Locate the website’s tab in a web browser when browsing more then one page.
- Find bookmarked websites in a browser.
Titles and descriptions provide businesses with the perfect opportunity to explain themselves in an engaging way to individuals on Google and Bing. So yes – use appropriate lengths for your website’s meta titles, but more importantly create titles that will improve the experience of the user.
Create Clear Navigation for On Page Optimization
Having a navigable attractive website structure that is easy on the eyes also results in increased session times, higher CTR’s and lower bounce rates leading to improved search visibility.
Focus on Quick Page Load Times
Page load times impact your website from both a UX and SEO perspective. We have all heard that a consumer is likely to bounce from your website if you have a page load time longer then a mere three seconds. To ensure a positive user experience on your website, load speed needs to be optimized for both desktop and mobile. No one wants to sit and wait for a webpage to load, including Google. Not only does page load time affect your user’s experience on your website, it affect’s your page’s visibility on Google. Since 2010, Google’s site speed algorithm has been using website speed in search results. Quick load times not only works wonders for your user experience, your SEO endeavors are also positively affected.
Use Internal links
Internal links encourage people to stay on your website by helping guide them to related content. Without telling users where to go, and providing links to take them there, they can often get lost on your site. Hence, why links enhance UX. Further, internal links help robots establish information hierarchy within your site. They also create simple navigation which often results in people spending more time on your website often resulting in reduced bounce rates.
Use Quality Images
Using visually pleasing, quick loading images on your website obviously enhances your user’s experience. It is 2015 – no one wants to look at pixilated images that take ages to load. However, not only does investing in quality images improve your UX, it also enhances your SEO. In order to enhance SEO be sure to use proper image titles, with appropriate keywords that pertain to your keyword strategy (without stuffing). Quality images can increase user-engagement (sometimes resulting in longer session times and decrease bounce rates) and enable you to tell a story about your product of service. All of which increase conversions and improve your website’s visibility.
If all of this is done properly, your website should be designed to fit basic SEO principles. Zach Rutherford, author of UX vs. SEO: Web Design Battle Royale stated that, “UX and SEO aren’t combatants, they’re dance partners.” All of that said, great user experience benefits every part of your site therefore, SEO should only be one part of the equation. Good SEO harmonizes quite well with good UX, they have many similar qualities. Quality, up to date copy sprinkled appropriately with chosen keywords, meta titles written for both individuals and robots, a navigable design that focuses on quick load times, quality images and internal links will give your website the perfect combination of both.