February 2022

Align your UX and SEO strategies to maximise ROI

by Linda Bailey

“User experience encompasses all aspects of the users' emotions, beliefs, preferences, perceptions, physical and psychological responses, behaviours and accomplishments that occur before, during, and after interacting with a company, its services, and its products.” Jakob Nielsen

Basically, UX is everything, which means it also impacts everything, including your search engine optimisation (SEO).

Whilst they might seem disjointed, UX and SEO are closely connected. They both share the common goal of providing users the best experience. Whilst SEO targets search engines, UX targets your visitors.

How does UX affect SEO?

Once upon a time, SEO was simple. Put loads of keywords on your page, and you’ll rank number one.

But today, Google (and the other search engines) factors in hundreds of metrics, including user experience (UX) when determining which pages rank high in search engines.

Many elements of user experience best practices are now been rolled into SEO best practices. Whilst many agencies are just beginning to understand the relationship and business value between the two disciplines, Honest Fox has known this for ages. In fact, we structured our teams around this.

The impact of UX on your page rankings

Search engines - including Google - represent the most advanced data mining operations in the world. They know what users want and how users behave. From that data, they create algorithms to show users more of what they want and less of what they don’t.

In May 2020, Google announced a new ranking algorithm that judges web pages based on how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page.

We believe the new set of metrics called Core Web Vitals will begin to impact ranking in 2021. In addition to the existing metrics, Core Web Vitals are a set of real-world, user-centered metrics that quantify key aspects of the user experience. They measure new dimensions of web usability such as load time, interactivity, and the visual stability of content.

Core web vitals

What does this all mean? If Google thinks your users will have a poor experience on your pages — Google will push your page rankings down, down, down.

Website elements that impact both UX and SEO

SEO and UX best practices aren’t isolated. UX is all about making users happy, and so is SEO.

There are many site elements that impact both UX and SEO including:

  • headings

  • navigation and site structure

  • user signals

  • site speed

  • mobile experience.

Long gone are the days when UX and SEO work in separate lanes.

Aligning your UX and SEO strategies = success

There's no avoiding that UX is a critical factor when it comes to getting your website to rank in search engines, there is no avoiding that UX is one of the most critical factors.

If you want to increase your online visibility and increase your conversion rate, then you must align your UX and SEO strategies.

3 steps to aligning your UX and SEO strategies

For businesses to succeed they’ll need to start integrating their strategies.

Looking for some practical advice about aligning your strategies?

Step 1: Keyword research

What are users looking for? What language do they use? What's the search intent (informational, navigational, commercial, or transactional) of the terms they use?

This affects your

  • web design

  • site messaging

  • navigation

  • content.

Step 2: Give users what they want

Websites are subject to an extreme level of snap judgments that immediately influence perceptions of credibility. Users spend an average of 5.59 seconds per page looking at written content. (3)

Businesses need to provide a satisfying answer to users' questions and search queries very quickly. If you don’t, users are happy to go back to Google and try again.

A few tips for showing the customer what they want, quickly:

  • create a clear site structure that can be navigated through intuitive menu names and functionalities

  • create clear headings that utilises the <H1> through to <H6> structure

  • create a clear navigation path through site headers, breadcrumbs, and continued workflows

  • create quality content that utilises good content design (link to HF tip on this)

  • create clear call to actions (CTAs) so users don’t have to think about their next step.

Step 3. Ensure your site is easy to use on any device

There's no excuse for having a website that is not optimized for use across all platforms in 2020. In the second quarter of 2020, mobile devices (excluding tablets) generated 51.53 percent of global website traffic (4).

Just think of how many potential customers you could miss out on if you’re not optimised for mobile. Not only this, but your search engine ranking will be suffering too.

A few tips for ensuring your site is easy to use across all devices :

  • invest in responsive web design that ensures your site content, functionality, navigation, buttons, load time, etc are working as expected across all devices

  • focus on quality by ensuring the page layout is clear, content is optimised, relevant and original

  • focus on speed by streamlining code, compressing images, and utilising fast servers.

Use these tips as a good starting point, but make sure you continue to test your website and make improvements.

Why it helps to engage a digital agency

When SEO and user experience are used together, they deliver the best results because of their effectiveness. But there’s an art to finding the right balance.

A digital agency provides businesses with UX and SEO experts (along with UX designers, developers, and account managers), capable of strategising and implementing the right balance of efforts.

The factors are complex and interconnected, requiring specialist skills and tools to deliver maximum ROI with minimal effort.

In addition, Google (and other search engines) never stop refining their algorithms so it requires constant learnings to optimise efforts going forward.

Want to level up or align UX and SEO strategies in your business? We're here to help, drop us a line!

Get In Touch

References:

  1. https://www.nngroup.com/articles/definition-user-experience/

  2. https://searchengineland.com/the-google-page-experience-update-user-experience-to-become-a-google-ranking-factor-335252

  3. https://www.sweor.com/firstimpressions

  4. https://www.statista.com/statistics/277125/share-of-website-traffic-coming-from-mobile-devices/#:~:text=Mobile accounts for approximately half,since the beginning of 2017.

Resources:

https://searchengineland.com/seo-ux-success-286638

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Linda Bailey

Diverting from a career in Architecture, Linda uses the left and right side of her brain equally. She's been with Honest Fox from the beginning and is involved in all facets of the business. She's empathetic and kind and loves punk music.

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