The Balancing Act: When User Experience Crossed Paths With Seo
It's a story of a decade-old SEO professional when he was a rookie player in the marketing field:
My optimization practices include getting as many as keywords on the pages, creating ads that cover most of the content, keeping several backlinks and adding pop-up video ads irrespective of the content quality, usability, heading, and performance. The topmost preference was to take the website on the first page of the search engines by hook or crook.
It was fair wearing the lens of SEO experts, but in the case of users, when they find the result at the top of the page with no relevant information other than keyword stuffing, the bombardment of ads, and inferior content, it's actually bursting them into fumes.
The deteriorating user experience is of no value to the SEO but matters a ton to the search giant. That's why Google search engine introduced the series of algorithms updates from Panda and Penguin to the Hummingbird and RankBrain along with several changes to SERP, which has lowered the bar for spammers entry and raised the bar of search engines. The laser focus is put on an exceptional user experience that directly relates to the content readability, usability, desirability, findability, and accessibility.
It was difficult to match up with new updates, but it forced us to raise the bar and finally, we are turned into real marketers who are helping the businesses to grow while putting users at the heart of the journey.
It's a clear sign, the UX and SEO are two inseparable entities that need to coexist in harmony to let the business flourish in harmony. Still, unclear why to keep SEO stay synced with UX? Here's the answer:
The user's site behavior metrics constitute page per session, bounce rate, organic CTR, dwell time and repeat visits which are continuously informed by RankBrain to the Google to notify which site is user-friendly or poorly optimized with irrelevant content. It means the UX and SEO share the same goal because if the UX is poor, all the SEO efforts go into vain. The SEO pros have to put themselves in the shoes of the users to understand buying intent and analyze the search queries for getting the website rank high and showing up in front of the right searcher.
The SEO optimization directly co-relates with UX optimization, both of which aim to make the users happy. The voice search optimization is the best instance of it. With the growing prominence of voice search queries, the websites have to optimize the content to get appear in the voice search results. The voice optimization doesn't imply simply providing the answer to the users in a language they speak. Instead, the content must be conversational and include question-answer type content with long-tail keywords.
A few more statistics supporting the statements:
81% of shoppers research online from mobile before making a purchase.
63% of the users search for local businesses using multiple devices and mobile accounts to 80% of the conversion.
70% of the people get persuaded for shopping through video ads on mobile.
83% of the users say the seamless experience across all the devices is important and positively impact the user experience.
Hope you are contented with the fact- there is no middle ground other than balancing UX and SEO activities. It's the right time to give a headstart to converge SEO and UX efforts for not getting separated like chaff from the wheat by Google and the users.
Here are the ways SEO and UX can go hand in hand:
Improve the performance
Not just Google, but the users are also damn obsessed with the speed at which the websites load. Since 2010, Google has declared that website speed is one of the factors that create a great impact on ranking search results. In the age of impatience, the users also show zero tolerance for the websites that takes more than three seconds to load.
At first, the website must be checked using any of Google tools such as page speed insight tools which give rich insights into the issues that are negatively affecting the loading speed and the suggestions to increase the performance. Furthermore, the large image compression without decreasing the quality, lean and clean coding, browser caching, lazy loading, and fast hosting servers helps in keeping the website speed up to par.
It's a good practice to optimize the website performance regardless of the platform on which the search is performed. The SEO pros should pay heed to two-timing metrics- above-the-fold loading and full-page loading in order to be fast, which in turn, delight the users and Google.
Make sure it's secure
The modern users truly understand the cost of visiting and providing personal information to unsecured websites. That's why 80% of the users won't turn to the website that is not secured (not showing SSL certificates and showing HTTP instead of HTTPS). Google also takes site security as a significant factor.
It's clear threat-proof websites are preferred by both the users and Google, so make the websites robust secure.
After landing on a website page, neither the users nor the search engine crawlers have enough time to read the website content thoroughly to check what the web page is about, the most often quickly scan the headers at the top of pages to know about the content. That's why heading tag H1 and H2 should provide a similar message as the page title tag. Also, the keywords are placed near the heading's front.
In addition to headings, extra subheadings from H2 to H6 can also be used to break up the long content and let the users quickly get the information they are looking for. The clear headings must be used on all the web pages.
Invest in responsiveness
As per top-rated SEO companies, Mobile-first indexing that's a key to improve SEO ranking as Google algorithms rank the websites based on the mobile versions. The website that performs to the notch on mobile screens alongside offer minimalistic design, flawless navigation, readable content, fewer pop-ups, the limited number of fields in the forms, and aptly sized buttons that are rightly placed is the hallmark of the mobile-optimized or responsive websites. It's the minimum expectation of Google because it delivers a good user experience.
Besides, mobile website traffic is outpacing desktop website traffic, which indicates making the website perform impeccably on mobile devices is imperative to not lose the share of the audience that is accessing the website through smartphones or tablets. Implementing mobile responsive design is a good step to not face severe penalties from Google and the user's rejection.
Keep the ads but smartly
The advertisement is one of the monetization models for the websites that certainly cannot be eliminated randomly, but optimized. Puzzled, how ads can be optimized for the websites? Well, it's possible.
The websites when full of several ads and the ads are also large in size with a heavy dose of content, it interferes with the content readability and user experience, especially on mobile screens. The best practice includes keeping the minimum pop-up ads as possible on every page, don't display the pop-ups as soon as the page loads (give a sigh of relief to the users by showcasing the ad after a couple of seconds), and keep the video ads in silent mode (because video increases the website’s organic ranking, but auto-playing video ads are disliked by the users).
Ensure seamless navigation
From the eye of an SEO professional, the site architecture is just meant for Google crawlers to easily find and index the various products or services under the hood while passing link juices from high to low authority pages uninterruptedly. But, this mindset leads to the half-baked cake as simple navigation the structure is equally important to the users. Every user wants to land on the desired page from the home page in no more than four clicks.
Build a logical, hierarchical site structure by grouping the similar products or services with a relevant heading so that user can easily articulate what the website offers just by looking at the navigation structure and can easily maneuver through the website. Additionally, navigation is the best place to use keywords, every link can be a keyword phrase directing the users to the relevant page.
With website structure optimization, the bounce the rate can be decreased as users can exact the page on-the-fly, which signals Google that the website is a good source to answer the query.
Over to you
It’s an age of experience, where experience matters the most to the users for which they are even ready to spend big bundles. This thing is recognized by Google quite earlier and the drastic changes made to the algorithms is the consequence of the same. No website is free from the exemption. What does it bespeak?
The website success hinges on user experience, which SEO pros cannot tolerate anymore. It means the SEO optimization of the website is incomplete without UX optimization. Strike a fine balance between SEO and UX design to craft the holistic solution because of the business success (High conversion and ROI) lies at the intersection of the two.