SEO used to be very simple. All you needed was a live page, and enough keywords to address any possible user query, no matter if they were relevant to your content or not.
Needless to say, these days it’s not so simple. Because Google and other search engines strive to give their users the best experience when using their search services, they’ve had to impose a set of rules websites must follow if they want to organically rank well on the result pages.
And to do just that, brands and companies have to focus on SEO, which is a term that describes a rather laborious process of making a website search engine friendly. But these days, from all the potential SEO practices one could engage into, one is being more and more put into the spotlight: user experience (UX).
But how much does UX design have to do with SEO?
Common Elements of SEO and UX
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1. Intuitive Design
The concept of ‘intuitive’ design and structure can sometimes seem odd to people. After all, how can anyone tell if people will know how to use certain elements of your website.
But an intuitive design doesn’t go too deep into the technicalities of anything. In fact, intuitive design isn’t visible at all – and that’s the point.
If you have an intuitive web design, it means any user, even if they’ve just visited your website for the first time, can successfully use it. And when they see something, they know what to do. They know that if a word is underlined and of a different colour in a text, that’s an anchor with a link. They click on the link, and it takes them to other relevant content.
Though the temptation to push the envelope is strong here, because nobody wants their website to look exactly like their competitors, it’s important not to complicate matters too much. The harder time people have when navigating your website, the more likely they are to leave.
2. Easy Navigation
Next to intuitive design is easy navigation. Just like in the previous point, you need to make sure users know how to go from one section of your website to the next.
You may think most websites have a clear structure, but consider this: most of your visitors won’t land on your front page when visiting your website. They’ll access a landing page, either thanks to a social media link or even an ad. Now ask yourself this; once they do land on an internal landing page, will they be able to they easily navigate from page to page?
This is a big component of user experience that also has a lot to do with SEO. Well-structured websites aren’t just pleasant for users, but the search engines can easily navigate them as well. And being easy to navigate is one of the most important ranking factors out there because the faster a web crawler goes through your content to find a search match, the better your SERP position.
3. Content Marketing
Content marketing is perhaps the clearest example of how well linked SEO and UX truly are. At its core, it involves creating high-quality content you can then share online or on social platforms and increase the organic traffic to your website.
But the true powers of content marketing cannot be utilised unless you choose some relevant keywords to help you design the entire campaign. Through keyword research, you can identify the topics and angles that should be integrated into your quality content. This is often the first, and most important step to take here.
But apart from keywords, there are some other things you can do to truly maximise the potential of your content:
● Headings – they don’t get enough credit. Headings are easy ways for both users and search engines to find information for both website visitors and search engines. They can help people make sense of a page, and visually signal the logical flow of the content.
● Meta descriptions – these are the small texts that appear in the search query next to the link, and can help the user decide if they want to click on it or not;
● Calls to action – CTAs help make the content more engaging and place the focus on the reader.
4. The Page Loading Speed
Think of yourself as a user. How long do you wait for a page to load before you finally close the tab and move on? Because statistically, around 47% of people expect a page to load in two seconds or less.
Page speed has been a ranking factor for Google for a long time, but because of the way people are used to navigating the web nowadays, it has also become an important part of UX. Slow websites will definitely not have a positive rank, and will most likely score a rather big bounce rate and low pages per session score.
One of the best ways to make sure that your pages load fast is to create them based on the ‘light page’ principle. That means removing any unnecessary elements in design or content that can potentially take longer to appear on screens. Light pages fully load around 486% faster than large pages.
5. Focusing on Mobile Experience
People use their smartphones more and more to access the internet. The number of mobile internet users worldwide is around 4.6 billion, so it’s fair to assume that most websites focus a lot on being mobile-friendly, right?
Yes and no. While most websites can be accessed easily through a mobile device, it doesn’t necessarily mean the website offers a great mobile experience. In fact, a web page can take even 87% longer to load on mobile when compared to a desktop.
Plus, it’s also about how easily your website can be used on a mobile device. Remember, on your smartphone you have less accuracy because instead of moving a cursor you have to tap on an element or link with your finger. As a result, important elements need to be big enough for people to easily do that. Otherwise, they can get frustrated.
As a result, it’s not enough to just have your website be accessible through a mobile device. The site needs to genuinely work through these devices, just as well as it would on a desktop or laptop.
And it’s not just consumers telling you to make your website mobile-friendly. Google officially announced that starting July 1st, 2019, a new algorithm update which will work on a ‘mobile-first’ principle when indexing new pages. This means it will primarily use the mobile version of the site to rank it. Though older websites don’t have to go through this yet, it’s obvious Google is focusing more and more on its mobile users.
Over to You
These days, you can’t have UX without SEO and vice versa. Many of their principles are so intertwined that the only real option anyone has is to concentrate their efforts on addressing them both. If you want your websites to appear in the search results, these are two elements you must focus on.
If your website still needs a bit of work in these departments, we can help. Reach out to Australian Internet Advertising now and let our team of experts take your site to the next level.