Most people believe SEO is about using keywords or link building to improve the ratings of your website organically. Admittedly, keywords, meta tags, meta descriptions, backlinks and link building are all part of the SEO strategy, but there is so much more. Search engines consider a host of things when it comes to improving the rankings of your website organically.
Take a breather here and see this definition of SEO by SEO experts: It is a natural or organic method of bringing web traffic to your website or social posts by improving your rankings on search engine results. Your website is optimized when search engines deem it a valuable resource for internet users. But your website can only be helpful to search engine users if users have a pleasant user experience on your website.
“Pleasant user experience” should ring a bell. That is because it’s what “UX,” an SEO buzzword, represents. UX means user experience. It is the sum of experience a user has when using your website, software or application. UX design is the design of a website, software, or app to give a wholesome, positive experience to a user. UX design must understand what a user wants and give it to them. Also, it must make the website easily navigable for the user.
Can you begin to see the connection? This post will explore it further. Keep scrolling.
How Did UX Become Part of SEO?
SEO involves the fulfillment of a series of conditions, and part of this is the improvement of UX to get better rankings. This is the short of it. Allow us to elaborate below.
SEO Is UX
Search engines have the goal of improving their users’ experience, and they achieve this by ranking quality websites which their users will consider valuable and trustworthy higher than other websites. Thus, websites that give a better user experience are considered more valuable to search engines. Google, the biggest search engine, constantly upgrades its search engine results pages (SERPs) to reflect quality websites. It has also recently updated its search engine algorithm. The Google Page Experience update makes it stricter and more quality-focused.
To know how UX is vital to search engines, we’ll need to take a slight detour to talk about Google’s RankBrain.
What Is RankBrain and Its Impact?
RankBrain is what you, as an SEO enthusiast, should give all your money to. It is the third-most crucial thing to Google when it comes to ranking. RankBrain is a part of Google’s main algorithm, and it utilizes machine learning to know which results provide the best answers to users’ searches. Before RankBrain, Google used ordinary algorithms to achieve the same effect, but with RankBrain, Google’s efficiency in ranking has tripled.
RankBrain focuses on behavior metrics, and it helps track your website’s bounce rate, the amount of time a user spends on your website, natural click-through rates, pages read per session, etc. After gathering data on this, RankBrain gives Google feedback on customer experience in using your website. Factors like the ease of page navigation provided by your website, the dwelling time of users on your pages, the number of people clicking on your links and their return to your website shows RankBrain that users had a positive experience with your website.
On the other hand, if users don’t dwell on your website and never return to your site, either, RankBrain tells Google that users don’t consider your website valuable or not adequately optimized for users.
SEO Activities That Influence UX
- You can see how RankBrain is key to the success of your SEO strategy. Now, let’s talk about keywords. Google and other search engines want to give their users a good user experience. Google giving its users a positive experience is dependent on website owners giving their users a positive user experience. This means providing answers to search queries by optimizing your website with relevant keywords. You can achieve the perfect keyword by understanding what users need and providing it to them.
- In addition, search engines now use voice searches, which means you have to optimize your website for voice searches. Doing so will allow you to show up on results for voice search. Thus, to achieve this, you must optimize your website to be conversational and use longer keywords to satisfy users.
- Use proper images and headings. For SEO, these are essential, and they also contribute to a positive user experience. When a user gets to your site and the image they find relates to their search query, they are more inclined to dwell on your website. Also, when they see that the headings relate to what they search, it could result in their commitment to your website.
- SEO rankings are higher when the website design gives the user positive UX. If the website is deemed easily navigable by the user, a site’s SEO rankings will improve.
The Practice of Merging UX and SEO Together
From the above, you can see how user experience is tied to SEO and vice versa. You can’t have one without the other. They have a symbiotic relationship which makes them inseparable. In order to benefit from SEO, you must optimize your website for search engines from the very beginning. This means you have to work on making the user experience positive, among other things. Below are some of the things you can do to merge SEO and UX right from the beginning.
Accept That UX Must Be Part of Your SEO Strategies
This is the first step you have to take before you merge the two. You have to accept that the two are not mutually exclusive and must be fused to get the best results for your website. Remember, you didn’t create your website simply to have a website. The purpose of your website is to give you a better hold on the market by helping you generate and convert leads. Your website won’t generate leads when users are not comfortable with the design or find it challenging to navigate. Also, your website will not generate leads if users can’t even see it on the web after a search engine query. So, to generate leads, your users must have a pleasant experience. When they do have that positive user experience, the rankings of your website will improve, making it visible to more users.
Improve Website Speed
People use the internet for the sake of comfort. A slow site speed isn’t comfortable for users, and since they have many options, they don’t need to deal with your slow website page. Website speed is essential to the optimization of your website for search engines. Search engines tend to rank websites with faster loading times higher than those with a slower loading time.
A one-second delay in loading a website page causes you to lose 11 percent of your page views, thereby making you lose leads for conversion. It also reduces your user experience rating. So, you must improve the user experience by investing in better website page load speed. You can achieve a better website page load speed by doing the following:
- Use lazy loading
- Choose an excellent hosting plan
- Use – but compress – high-quality images
- Don’t use autoplay media formats
- Develop a quality content delivery network (CDN)
A Simpler Website Structure Is Key
No user wants to feel unintelligent because they have a hard time accessing a website. A complex website structure turns users away. Interestingly, it also makes search engines have difficulty seeing and indexing your website pages efficiently. So, even without considering the terrible user experience that would negatively influence your SEO, search engines would already be against you. Now, if you add poor user experience into the mix, your website is as good as non-existent. That’s why you must invest in a more straightforward website structure.
Simplify your site by making navigation easier and providing clear descriptions, clearer headlines and quality content. In addition, make your homepage accessible from each website page and improve your page layouts.
Optimize for Mobile
The world’s population is over 7 billion, and half of the world uses smartphones. Smartphone usage is now at 3.6 billion users. So, not optimizing your website for mobile would make it seem as if you don’t want customers for your business at all. Similarly, not optimizing your website for mobile also signals to search engines that you don’t need (or want) a higher ranking.
Positive user experience now lies in harnessing the number of smartphone users in the world. When a user gets on your website with their phone and encounters problems like slow page load and instability, it will negatively impact their user experience. And as you now know, when user experience is impacted negatively, search engines will decrease your rankings and instead make room for those that provide their customers with real value.