What is user experience in SEO?
The change in Google’s attitude from keywords to intent was clear when the Hummingbird update morphed the SEO framework into something new and more user-oriented. The horizon of SERPs was going to favour the intention of the user rather than the actual keywords typed into the search box.
Therefore, user experience in SEO is about:
- Hitting the search intent of a visitor by answering their query,
- Providing fast information through speedy page loading,
- Making sure that the website is optimized for all devices, and the usability is good.
User experience comes to the fore as search engines focus more on how people are reacting to and using your site. In addition to your SEO optimization strategies, a website that’s optimized for humans and pleases them is important and that is what user experience means.
If your website isn’t offering them and this is detected by search engines through higher bounce rates on your site. So, the question for SEO professionals to answer is, how can I improve my search experience?
Let’s explain user experience or UX with an example
Suppose a user puts in the search phrase, ‘Who won the male Oscar for best actor for this year?’ in Google. The search engine will provide an answer ‘A’ based on the most current news. Next, the user searches ‘Who did he beat closely?’ This answer that Google provides demonstrates the leaps that have been achieved in improving user experience.
The second search does not mention either the year or the name of the winner, but Google comes up with the right answer, how? Simply because keywords like ‘Oscar’ ‘lost’ ‘actor’ aren’t the lynchpins anymore and search according to these is not how it is done. Instead, Google’s algorithm updates now draw upon the result of the last search, analysed the intent of the user and showed a matching result.
Keywords call upon irrelevant searches but paying more attention to the perspective of the online user provides better user experience. In the same way, websites and pages that match the intent of the user through its content, design, and speed are providing a complete user experience. Since, user experience has become a major ranking factor for Google including UX in SEO best practices means a winning combo slated to capture the top shot on SERPs.
Why user experience is important for SEO?
To maintain credibility as a reliable search engine, Google doesn’t want to send searchers to sites that don’t answer questions and have poor quality content, or are difficult to navigate. Search engine crawlers are not looking for perfection, however, they will reward quality and usability with better rankings.
The constant algorithm updates ensure users are provided with the best. Especially when ranking websites, elements of user experience (UX) have been rolled into SEO practices.
UX and SEO share common goals
Link building and relevant keywords in content is not the limit of SEO anymore. While these are two important strategies, the goal now lies in providing searchers with information that answers their queries. This is where UX and SEO interact to complete their common—relevant information. The partnership is evident when we consider that SEO targets search engines, while UX targets a website’s visitors where the common goal is giving users the best experience for both. This is UX in SEO.
What are the key elements of a user interface for SEO?
Changes to SERPs, like knowledge panel and rich snippets, show just how critically important UX is for Google. Here are some common website elements that impact both SEO and user experience:
Headings: Just as book titles make it easier to find our favourite story, the headings of a web page make it easier for both visitors and search engine crawlers to understand and decode the information contained within the content.
Easy navigation and site structure: In short, make your website architecture simpler. It is important for users to find their way within the website easily, without the nuisance of pop-ups, dead-ends, and cluttered clickable options. Structure also is the site’s roadmap for search engines.
Speed: It has been a ranking factor for long but fast loading pages are especially loved by visitors too. Image compression, streamlined codes, and hosting on dedicated servers make you fast.
Mobile experience: Faster mobile responsiveness combined with the introduction of Google’s mobile-first indexing. A complete mobile-friendliness index includes the look, feel, navigation, text, images, etc. of the website as experienced and displayed on mobile and other handheld screens.
How does UX affect SEO?
Bad UX hurts SEO, and in turn spam filled SEO practices can ruin your UX. For instance, if your site is only providing promotional or self-serving blog posts without adding any original information; is replete with numerous irrelevant links to your homepage—it will ultimately annoy visitors and drive away traffic.
The website is the first point of contact between a visitor and a business. The UX design and user-friendliness will be a proof of relevance and authoritativeness of your brand, and content within. The experience that visitors have in your site will impact their perception of your business.
How to improve UX for SEO?
User experience is critical to SEO and UX optimization is nothing more than focusing on the visitor. Once you have implemented the best practices by elements as discussed above, align your UX and SEO strategies. Here are some ways to improve the user experience overall.
- Emphasis on searcher language and searcher intent,
- Following the first click, entice customers to keep engaging with your website through optimized content and clean site architecture,
- Invest in responsive web design,
- All visitors aren’t ready to convert, hence, provide secondary CTA,
- Continue testing variations and measuring results.
UX is one of the most critical factors in ranking your website on the search engine result pages. SEO and UX create a successful website experience—a winning combination. What do you think makes for a great user experience?