A site should not only be easy to find in the search engine but also encourage people to stay on it for as long as possible and create a positive experience. This sounds like something desirable at first, but not necessarily optimisation related. But the principles of SEO and UX are intertwined in many cases.
One of the logical but not always applicable SEO truths is that the actions that lead the user to the site should not offend them when they visit it. Cluttered tag clouds or excessive keyword counts are the most obvious, but not the only “intimidating” factors. A good SEO does not use these techniques.
This is not about being the “master” of all aspects of the website. However, instead of wasting time arguing with UX designers, copywriters or clients, it’s best to look for common ground.
Neglecting SEO — or SEO specialists’ nightmare
For usability specialists, the main thing is the user’s experience of the product (in this case, the site). UX is a site made for people. On such a resource, the visitor feels like a fish in water.
But often a UX specialist does not even know and does not think where to get traffic to a future site and what he will need to take into account in his work in order for this traffic to appear. This is how beautiful and convenient sites appear that cannot be promoted in search engines. In general, they are divided into two types:
1. Beautiful “hipster” sites
As a rule, such resources have the main content of images or videos.
Undoubtedly, the website may be beautiful, modern and even convenient, but in the search results its snippets do not look very attractive due to the lack of texts on some pages. Search bots simply have nothing to index.
SEO expert opinion: You can’t do without text on the site, in any case, you need to register title, description, alt, category names, etc. In addition, do not forget that content is one of the factors in the ranking of a site in Google.
2. High-tech sites
This includes resources with dynamic content updates, where there are often no separate pages, all content is presented on one page.
The site looks pretty, quite technological. But it will have big problems with download speed.
And this indicator affects the ranking of the site in the search results. It is believed that the page should be loaded in no more than 3-5 seconds, otherwise the potential client will get tired of waiting, he will leave the resource.
Other big problems of such websites are low traffic.
Neglecting usability –or a UX professional’s nightmare
Let’s now talk about what kind of sites SEO specialists do.
A site “according to the precepts” of SEO is a site that first of all meets the current requirements of search robots: correct linking, uniquely optimised texts, the presence of meta tags, structured headers, understandable page addresses, the presence of a sitemap and a robots.txt file, fast loading speed, etc. Search robots like these sites.
Most of these correct parameters will go unnoticed by users. You can (and it happens very often) make a site that is ideal from the SEO point of view, which will be critically inconvenient for the user.
Of course, the requirements have changed a lot since the SEO / UX rivalry stereotype began. Previously, “black SEO” was used to quickly promote in search results. For example, it was possible to hide the SEO text under invisible links, adjust the site structure to search queries and write texts entirely from keywords.
But over the past few years, search engines have improved their work, and now they impose sanctions for this, so such methods are practically not used anymore. Now one of the main requirements for any resource is a site for people, not for robots.
Of course, SEO and UX clashes of interest are still present. Search robots need text with keywords, so content has to be placed where users don’t need it.
But in general, the view on SEO has changed and now there are no crazy requirements that were previously. For example, you don’t need to write huge over-optimised foot cloths in order for a site to get to the TOP of search results. And the UX specialist experiences less pain when looking at modern, optimised sites.
The takeaway is clear: UX and SEO should work together
Many of the best website search optimisation practices apply to other aspects of building an effective website.
What UX principles should you apply to SEO?
1. Make a good first impression
The user experience creates a positive user experience. In a UX context, this will always work within the site, but SEOs don’t have those limitations. It is possible to build trust in the site before the user clicks on the link. It’s worth taking the best of white hat SEO, influencer marketing, or even e-PR. The easiest patent to implement is optimizing the title and meta description tags in terms of their attractiveness to the user.
Ideas for creating positive associations with the site:
– a well-thought-out social media strategy;
– placing links to well-known sites;
– participation in marketing campaigns of influencers;
– monitoring of brand reviews.
More than 50% of all site visits are from mobile channels. Ignoring the needs of users viewing the site on a smaller screen leads to a drop in rankings. A site tailored for a smartphone or tablet is no longer an added benefit, but a commitment. From a UX perspective, a website needs to be fully responsive so that the user doesn’t close it right away.
For a website to be responsive and enjoyable to use, it must:
– load quickly;
– contain the text of a suitable size;
– have large and spaced buttons;
– be easy to scroll;
– contain key information at the top of the page;
– have no unnecessary pop-up windows.
3. Time is money: the site should load faster
Page load time has been a ranking factor since 2010. However, this factor is justified by the preferences of the users themselves. Nobody likes to wait for a page to load too slowly. If you don’t take care of this aspect, you need to consider the consequences, the most important of which is a high bounce rate. Page speed is especially important in the context of website responsiveness.
4. Caring for Navigation – Information Architecture
Clear site navigation is critical from a UX perspective. The user must know where he is now and how to find the information he needs. You can use breadcrumbs. They are not the only way to navigate, but they are extremely important for a good quality SEO – they help to index your site.
5. Smart formatting of long texts
At first glance, this has nothing to do with SEO. In practice, however, the behaviour of the human eye when browsing a website causes the text layout to contain numerous headings, lists, and bold. Properly formatted content allows you to better focus on the content. This is why it is so important to use headlines skilfully. Their role is not limited to using the desired phrase like H1 or H2. They also encourage the user to read the content, so the split text appears to be more user-friendly. A heading is also a way to remember the main point of a paragraph. Moral: Content should be created by people who know the rules of web writing.
In addition to headings, the following elements help in the text:
– separate blocks of text and frames, preferably in a different color
– lists and markers
– inverted pyramid technique
– laconic style
6. Do not assume – check!
One of the most important UX principles that can be successfully applied in SEO is testing new solutions. The following statements are popular among designers: “users do not behave rationally”; “users will behave as expected”; “users are not making rational choices.”
It all comes down to remembering that the site is optimised not only for the algorithm but also for the common person. Relying solely on your own assumptions will always be a lottery. Therefore, it is recommended in SEO to test different strategies and solutions.
Despite all the disagreements between the parties, SEO and UX are now linked by behavioural factors that search robots take into account when indexing a site. In addition, in order to conquer the TOP, search engine optimisation alone is not enough, the site needs an integrated approach and at the same time, one should not forget about convenience. For example, if you work on the usability of a site, you can improve its behavioural factors, and therefore, its position in search results.
Therefore, if you want to get a good result, then the SEO specialists and UX designers should work as one team.