There was a time in the history of search marketing and SEO when everything was simple. Most of the time, you would magically appear in the top of search engine results page by simply stuffing a certain keyword on your page, but times have changed. As time progresses, a myriad of factors is being considered by Google and other search engines when choosing what pages appear on top.
However, these search factors were not imposed on websites overnight – it took Google a few years to significantly minimize, if not eradicate, spammy SEO methods that undermine search engines’ and websites’ user experience. Even up till today, the best practices in SEO are evolving, slowly shifting the focus from landing on top of SERPs to providing the best web experience to users.
This shift is making the relationship between SEO and UX deeper, where SEO is tackling the technical comportments in search marketing, UX is making sure that websites and search results appeal to human visitors. To align your SEO practices and aim a balance between UX and SEO, here are some major tips you should bear in mind.
- Analyze What’s on Your Plate
When working on any project, it is very important for any business or organization to know where you currently are first and what you intend to do. This is even all the more important when planning your SEO strategy. Know and establish what you aim to do with your website because the purpose of your business’ website must always be the focus of your website.However, it could be tricky to do as there are usually a number of business needs that are being served by a website. To help you identify what areas are important, try to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and ask these questions:
- What do I expect to see on the website?
- Is the website designed holistically to support its purpose?
- Is the website organized, with good content structure and easy navigation?
- Does the website work on most mobile devices?
When working on a project, it is common to get too focused and lose perspective, allowing personal biases and blind spots to prevent you from addressing key issues. Listen to suggestions from trusted influential people in e-commerce and take a step back to see the whole picture.
- Humans are your Target Audience
Since SEO and UX concepts serve two different purposes, keeping these concepts in consideration can become complicated. Thankfully, as Google is slowly improving on their search engine and teaching it to read content as humans do, it is becoming easier to strike a balance between the two.However, web designers and search marketers must still be wary as some UX design elements are detrimental to SEO. Despite this, it’s best to still follow Google’s advice by keeping UX in the front seat and let SEO fall into place on its own.
- Importance of Load Time and Page Speed
A website’s loading speed is very crucial in both user experience as well as SEO. It affects vital aspects such as your site’s bounce rate, conversion, and page abandonment, among others. Data from Kissmetrics established these striking pieces of data that underscore the importance of website page speed:
- 47% of website visitors and users assume pages to load in 2 seconds or even less.
- 40% of them will abandon a website if it takes more than 30 seconds to load.
- 79% of online shoppers who are dissatisfied with a website performance are less likely to buy from the same website again.
- 52% of the online shoppers stated that fast page load is crucial to their site loyalty.
Improve your website’s load speed by looking into these factors:
- Compress your website and reduces redirects
- Take advantage of browser caching and improve your server response times
- Utilize a content distribution network
- Optimize images for faster loading
- Site Structure and Navigation
A well-optimized website allows its users to quickly find information and content they need. To do this, your website must have an intuitive navigation that doesn’t only make it easy for your visitors to navigate your website but also improves your search ranking. An intuitive website adheres to best practices, such as the 3-click rule, which ensures that a user can see an overview of your website in just three clicks.When creating your site’s structure, remember to stay simple and concise. An elaborate website menu with intricate designs and fancy wordings tend to confuse users and turn them away. An overly elaborate website menu also prohibits search engines from properly reading your site, making it hard for search engines to make sense of your website.
- Don’t Ignore User Signals
Although Google has disputed several claims saying that user indicators such as reviews, bounce rates, and time on site are directly affecting page ranks, there are studies that say otherwise, where a strong correlation between top ranking sites and user signals were established. Which is why more SEO experts are saying that user signals are poised to have a heavy influence on search engine rankings.If you have posts on your Google My Business page that visitors click on if customers are leaving 5-star reviews for your app, and if your visitors are clicking on the click-to-call button on your site’s mobile page, then these elements are most likely helping you rank better on SERPs.
- Mobile-Friendliness is a Must
As more users are turning to mobile devices over desktop computers in connecting to the internet and searching for information, Google is integrating mobile-first search ranking factors. This means that Google’s algorithm will start giving mobile sites more weight compared to their desktop counterparts. Although not having a mobile version of your website will not cause it to drastically drop in search rankings, at this point, you should start planning to create a mobile website version.Should you choose to stick with your desktop website version that doesn’t adjust on mobile, the time your visitors spend on your page might get affected, which in turn, can influence your page rank.When creating a mobile website version, keep these thoughts in mind:
- Responsive design
- Readability on various device sizes without the need to zoom
- Relative button sizes for easy interaction
- Contains same high-quality content
- Structured both for mobile and desktop access
- Metadata is loaded on both versions
- Responsive Design
Given that users are browsing from varying device types and sizes, a responsive website design is a recommended factor by Google. This allows websites to load according to specifications of the device a website is being accessed from, despite its lack of a mobile version.A responsive website design usually has these characteristics:
- Fluid website grid with proportional design elements
- Loads quickly
- Uses flexible images and texts
- Flawless usability
- Optimized divisions for future design updates
UX and SEO work hand in hand
As SEO-focused digital marketing teams realize the importance of skills related to UX, and as UX teams see the benefits of having a wider perspective in SEO – keeping the balance between these elements is slowly changing how an optimum website performance is achieved. By aligning a point of view from a user’s perspective in designing websites, proponents in search engine companies such as Google are making radical shifts on how websites are being ranked on SERPs, making websites work for humans better than ever before.