UX and SEO, why its now important in 2020
Although often regarded separately, SEO and UX are perfect partners, and by using their natural synergy, you can dramatically improve your website’s rankings. As we mentioned in the two previous chapters, a decade or more ago, the focus of SEO Services was on building vast numbers of backlinks and creating low-quality, keyword-stuffed content for literally dozens of keywords. Fortunately, from a user’s point of view at least, these practices are more likely to see you penalised rather than gain higher rankings.
As a digital marketing company in Bangkok, we understand that user experience (UX) is the key metric when it comes to SEO and your rankings. SERPs prove that content which has been created by someone looking from a human’s perspective, rank far higher than content designed to trick Google’s complex algorithms. Using UX to improve your ranking means considering the whole process long before you even start thinking about your website.
What is user experience?
When any internet browser visits your website, they will immediately form an impression of your brand, website and your products or services. The objective is to make this first an excellent impression to increase the chances of greater engagement either now or in the future. It will involve product development, the design of your website, including page speed and readability, how you market yourself and your levels of customer support.
In this chapter, we will focus on the “online” aspect of the user’s experience. As customers become increasingly demanding and with an abundance of options available, the UX should exceed customer requirements and surpass their expectations. To achieve this, you need to put yourself in the customer’s shoes, see things from their perspective and to coin a phrase, “think outside the box”. You should eclipse the customer’s needs and do this without causing them any inconvenience – a challenge, but one you need to meet.
UX Vs UI
User interface (UI), is about how easy your online store, for example, is to use. In this example, your products may be easy to locate, and navigation between pages is straightforward with useful links. However, when your customer comes to pay, they encounter problems. It is possible that they don’t know if they have ordered or not. This would mean that their UX is poor even though, for the most part, the UI was positive.
UX in the modern world
UX is something that is never complete and is an ongoing process that continually evolves. So, long as you appreciate this, you can incorporate it into your whole SEO strategy. To achieve UX, you must take several different factors into consideration, including technical components as well as those relating to the content. You must look at UX from almost a psychologist’s point of view so that you appreciate the complexity and the impact which it can have on everyone. Some of the factors that you need to think about include:
- The structure of your website and how easy it is to navigate
- Page loading speeds and the responsiveness of the website
- CTAs to make conversions easier and enhance the UX
- The onboarding process
- The structure of the content – grammar, paragraph length, language and tone
- Ensure that the content is optimised
- Include meta descriptions and title tags
- Offer real-time customer support
The challenges you will experience with SEO and UX
It is perhaps noteworthy that we recognise that some of the points that we have outlined above are not directly related to SEO. Still, they must be taken into account because of the close affinity between SEO and UX. In this section, we focus on the points connected to SEO and illustrate the conflict between UX and SEO.
The structure of your website and navigation
For enhanced UX, ideally, all the information would be available on a single page, and for websites with less content, this makes sense. However, from an SEO point of view, sites which contain only a single page only receive around half of the organic traffic. The objective of SEO is for most of your visitors to arrive on your site via organic searches or directly accessing your site. However, you will also encourage other visitors via social media, blogs or Pay per Click (PPC) campaigns.
Of course, this could be, and you hope it will be, a lot of traffic, so could a single page really satisfy all the different search queries and different intentions? The vast majority of users use Google to find something that they want, whether it is answers or products. Your objective is for your website to provide all those answers. In reality, it is impossible on a single page due to the number of possible search queries and the intent behind them.
As mentioned, it isn’t possible to fit hundreds, possibly even thousands of answers to searches on one page. You, therefore, need a series of different landing page as this is more practical, but this presents the challenge of users wanting other pieces of information which may be on separate pages. Internal links are fantastic, but there is a limit to how many you can include before it harms UX.
Page Speed and Responsiveness
As we mentioned in chapter three, page loading speeds have a significant impact on UX, so, therefore, it makes sense that it is one of Google’s primary ranking factors. In this instance, the correlation between UX and SEO is much clearer, and the goal is almost exactly the same in both cases – to make page loading speeds as fast as possible.
Ensuring that the content is optimised
It is crucial that you think in the same way as a “typical” searcher. You need to consider the words which they would include in a search, including long-tail keywords and use them in your content accordingly. If your website has a product or service that someone is searching for, or it can provide answers to the questions that the user wants answering, you should make your content as accessible as possible. This is where the search intent that we covered in chapter four comes into play – don’t optimise the wrong keywords!
Meta descriptions and title tags
As we have stressed throughout this guide, the higher your website appears in the SERPs, the greater the probability that it will get clicked on. However, if you get the meta descriptions and title tags wrong, you may divert the user’s attention elsewhere as they don’t feel your site is relevant. When you are creating title tags and meta descriptions, there are three things that you need to take into account.
- SEO – Although we keep saying users come first, using the right keywords, ones that crawlers understand, will help them to know what your website is all about.
- UX – You must give searchers clear and concise information about what your website contains and it must motivate them to click on your site.
- Marketing – the copy must be of a high standard, capture the imagination along with being a “must-read” article or blog. Don’t forget to include clear CTAs as this will lead to higher click-through rates.
Is it possible to measure SEO and UX?
Fortunately, Google has provided us with several tools in their Google Analytics (GA) which includes reports and internal data. However, it is interpreting this information that is the key.Once you have understood it, you can use it to make your website even better from both a UX and an SEO perspective. Here are some of the main features:
Engagement and behaviour metrics
“Bounce rate”, “Pages per session” and “Avg. session duration” provide us with valuable albeit relatively simplistic information regarding user interaction. Within GA and the numerous reports that are generated, you will see these metrics appear time and again, even showing different sources of traffic.
The “Behaviour” category provides far more information regarding user activity but is quite complicated. “Behaviour flow” includes information regarding the visitors’ interactions with your site with the more advanced options detailing traffic sources, pages that the browser landed on, campaigns that they clicked and so forth. Knowing how many users continued through your website or “dropped-off” when they visited certain areas of your website will give you an indication of whether the content is effective.
Conversions are the critical factor almost all websites. How many visitors continued through to the checkout page? If so, did the majority complete their orders and if not, why not? Does your checkout process have several steps, again if so, where did they back out of completing the purchase? Make sure that you set goal tracking in the admin menu so that you get as much information as possible. It will give you a good idea is the checkout process provides a good UX.
Heatmaps and recordings
Infographics and visualisations are frequently used to help people understand large amounts of data, and this is precisely what heatmaps are. Heatmaps show website visitor behaviour, and they can range in their levels of sophistication and cost. Hotjar and Ptengine offer free plans which provide detailed analytical data while large organisations may prefer Hotjar’s paid-for packages.
Heatmaps are useful when it comes to accessing UX as well as SEO because they can see which areas of your website site are getting the greatest interaction. You can even see how they scroll, complete forms and where they click. Knowing this type of behaviour can help with the presentation and layout of the website.
Use your own internal data
While comprehensive heatmap packages can prove to be costly, collating your own internal data is free. Many of these things you probably already do, but if not, it would be worth giving a try so that you glean more information about your customers or potential customers. Here are some things to consider:
- Include feedback forms
- Monitoring customers’ questions – is there a pattern?
- Accessing comments and reactions on your website and social media
- What common comments, questions or complaints do you receive via email?
- Overall marketing analysis
- Do your web developers produce any reports for you?
Finally – testing
It is surprising how often website developers and those doing the SEO overlook testing new things that they have added to the site. While we appreciate your eagerness, beta testers can provide you with valuable insights. If you don’t wish to go down this route, conduct tests on the usability yourself, with friends and colleagues or trusted clients. The most important thing is that the feedback is honest.
As we discussed in chapter three, part of your testing should include checking page loading speeds, mobile optimisation and the other elements of on-page SEO. Testing should never be rushed and delaying launching your website would be preferable to launching one with poor UX.