How to Make SEO and User Experience Work Together

SEO and user experience are both crucial elements when it comes to web design. Though both have divergent structure and priorities, their final goal is to provide the best service to the customer. SEO professionals try to keep up with numerous algorithms while UX designers try to keep the end user in mind.

Seemingly, SEO and UX are not always compatible. There are moments when the two conflict and you are left stranded on what to do. For example, should you choose poor quality images because you don’t want to slow down your site’s load time or do you choose high quality and larger images because you want to enhance your user’s experience? In short, is this the classic case of choosing the lesser of the two evils?  Not necessarily. Both are two sides of the same coin. One enhances the other. By finding a way to make SEO and user experience work together, you can get the most out of your website.

Let us find out how you can balance SEO and UX so that both can work for each other, and not against each other.

For a start, SEO and UX have common goals…

A few years ago, SEO was all that mattered. User experience was not seen as important as SEO, and all we needed to do is choose the right keywords and stuff content with those keywords without regard to the end users. All we cared for is search rankings. But SEO has come a long way since then. There is more to SEO than just keywords. Likewise, there is more to web design than just functionality. There is a point where the two merge. What many designers are coming to realise is that poor UX will inevitably lead to poor SEO, and there is no good SEO without having a good user experience in the first place. As a matter of fact, Google algorithms aim to improve the user experience. The more your users like your site, the more likely that you are on the right track when it comes to SEO.

Judging by the latest Panda and Penguin updates, Google cares more about quality than you think. It is, therefore, apparent that if you have a great SEO, but with poor UX, you might not be able to meet some of Google’s standards.

You might not be able to cheat your way to the top of search engine results if your websites don’t offer great user experience. If users find your websites boring and uninviting, there will be high bounce rate, and this is one of the algorithms Google looks at to rank websites. High traffic to your website means nothing if users can’t stay on your site and convert.

Here are some elements you need to look at while trying to marry SEO and UX:

Keyword Research

Keyword research is the starting point for almost all online marketing. In other words, keyword research is where you should start in your marketing effort. There is a whole science behind keyword research, and I suggest that you understand it deeply. Once you grasp the idea, there are few other points that you should understand about keyword research, which will be critical in designing your website.  

The language of the searcher: what the user is looking for might be different from what we think they might be looking for. So you need to carefully understand this language to design a better content that will be relevant to the user. Keyword research is meant to uncover the specific words that users are typing in search engines so that relevant content can be delivered.

The intent of the searcher: sometimes phrases or keywords don’t mean to searchers what website owners think they mean. For instance, when a searcher looks for the phrase “detoxify the body”, he/she may be looking for tips to detoxify their bodies, while the website owner may think they are looking for a detoxifier product. To solve this problem, long-tail phrases are used to put an end to the confusion. This will achieve both the SEO and user experience objective at the same time. The user will get what they want, and the site will rank better.

Relevant and Actionable Content

When writing content for your website, you would want to know what the user wants and what Google looks at when ranking sites from the content point of view. Google emphasises the following three crucial elements.

The Engagement Metrics

Major search engines give a lot of weight to the engagement metrics of your site. These include the time a user spends on your page. If users are spending a lot of time on your content, it means that your content is relevant and actionable.

Link Structure

Developing a strong network of high-quality links is the desired end of most savvy marketers, and there is a reason or that. Having quality inbound links tells Google that your content must be great, given the fact that quality sites are using it as a reference. If you want to audit your links to remove low-quality links, you need an outstanding backlink audit services.  You may also attract users from those authority sites because they are looking for additional information.

Panda evaluations

Google continuously monitors the content quality and relevance in sites. Duplicate content won’t serve you any good either. Google will do everything to ensure that what users are getting is high quality, relevant and actionable. In the process of meeting Google’s Panda standards, the user experience is enhanced.

Keeping these three major points of reference in mind will help you to develop positive user experience and improve your SEO at the same time. It is a win-win situation for both the website owner and the end user.

Enticing the Click in the Search Results

How does it feel when a user clicks on a link in the search results only to land on the wrong website? As an end user, you lose in terms of time. As the website owner, you also lose because the user will contribute to high bounce rates.

How do you avoid this?

The aim of web design and SEO provided by a trusted SEO company like Digital Search Group in London is to ensure that you are capturing the right leads as well as to avoid losing valuable visitors to the completion. And to accomplish this, you need to use the right language that attracts the right users.

Title tags

This is a very important component in search results. Ensure that your title tags, content and keywords are congruent. The language should be relevant to what the user is searching for.

Breadcrumbs

Does the URL of your page or breadcrumbs trail follow the title tags? This is important because it provides more signal to the searchers that they have arrived at the right result.

Meta descriptions

Here is your chance to give a bit of information about what the URL is about. In about 150 characters, you can entice the visitor to visit the page if they find the description valuable. If you address the needs of the users, they will be more than willing to click your link.

Bland language leads to poor click-through and high bounce rates. Here is how to give the right searchers a reason to choose you over the competition and keep at bay users who will not add much value to your site.

Speed

Speed is a critical component of user experience as well as SEO. Web users hate slow websites. Google knows that and will punish you if your website is slow. This means you your website needs to render fast to avoid the wrath of your impatient visitors and the ever-unforgiving algorithm of Google. Here is what you need to do:

Compress your images

Here is the dilemma most website designers face: larger images provide better quality than smaller images, yet larger images cause the site to render slowly. The good news is that large images can be compressed to reduce bandwidth, without losing their resolution, thanks to numerous compression tools available online.

Streamline your code

Keep your code clean and lean. That is the mantra of modern web designers. Nowadays, you don’t have to come up with an excessive code to design a smart website. A few lines of code can accomplish much more.

Fast servers

Do not go for a cheap web host that compromises on server speed as this will cost you in the long run. While there are issues that are beyond your control regarding server speed, you shouldn’t let your host ruin the reputation of your website. Shop around for better hosts.

So the myths about SEO and UX are false. It is possible for the two to coexist. In fact, SEO should be part of UX.  For instance, while the overall objective of SEO is to generate traffic and revenue, and achieve search engine visibility, in so doing SEO also ensures that the right content (high-quality and relevant content) is delivered to the website visitors. Google also gives importance to page load times, images, link quality and other things that affect the user experience. Thus, SEO protects users from being served with bad content and agonisingly slow websites. In the post-Panda updates, slow websites, thin content, spam links are now a thing of the past.

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Andre Bourque (SocialMarketingFella) is Editor Emeritus of Technorati.

He covers emerging trends and news in social, mobile, cloud, and related technologies.

Based in San Francisco, he can be contacted via his social channels and at: andrefbourque@gmail.com

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