A user found his or her way to the website. It ranked high in search results, so no wonder they found it easily. Nevertheless, the user left the website after a few seconds. Obviously, they did not buy anything. As a result, SEO department is having a nervous breakdown. Or a different scenario: nobody visits the website. All rates are plummeting. UX department is considering resignation because all their efforts are going down the plughole.
Even a few years ago, separating UX and SEO with a titanium wall (topped with barbed wire and a huge writing „ANY CONTACT PROHIBITED”) made sense, because both branches were still developing.
In the old times, good SEO meant simply filling the website with keywords. In turn, UX was still in nappies and beginning to realise that it is a good idea when a website is functional too. These two goals were not mashing at all. UX department were doing their job, SEO were doing theirs and everybody was happy. But those times are over.
Since Google begun to appreciate websites’ content value, everything has changed. Attractive content, CTR and bounce rate took on a major role (incidentally, these rates depend on the websites functionality). Today, RankBrain, one of the most important algorithms in the search engine, gives us all this information. What are the consequences? SEO had to make space for UX.
And by making space, I do not mean yielding it, but making some extra space next to it, like to a partner.
Coming to the heart of the matter, Google decided that a website’s functionality should influence its rank. Therefore, they currently prefer user friendly websites which respond to users’ needs and queries. Speaking bluntly, SEO must bring the user to the website with the content that he or she is looking for, and UX must retain the user, encouraging to conversion. Additionally, both departments should complement each other. With the present algorithms, other ways are just unviable.
Both SEO and UX have many small goals, such as perfecting the keywords, changing headlines, etc. Still, the most important goal they have in common: to increase conversion.
SEO optimises, so that the user visits the site.
UX hold the user on the website.
SEO + UX = conversion
It is a simple equation. SEO and UX can work separately, but only together will they be truly successful.
You are probably wondering what combining SEO and UX looks like in practice. Where do they meet? What do they have in common apart from the goal? How can they help each other? There are a few things that you could pay attention to.
You need also be aware of the fact that a website should not be created only for a user because it also serves as a map of the service for the search engine.
Big banners, images, playing games with users – it is better to give up on them. Remember, that every website should have good navigation; only then will the subpages appear in search results. If you plan it well, the site will literally take its competitors’ place, because it will occupy more space.
Headlines are made for the user and for the search engine. In both cases, they should outline the website’s content and sections. Correctly organised, they will be well perceived by the algorithm and the users and, as a result, they will contribute to higher ranking.
Remember to place headline H1 only once on a page. And do not overdo it, it should simply be the title. Other headlines (H2, H3, H4, …) can be used more times, but without exaggeration.
Furthermore, keep the keywords in mind. Placing them at the beginning of the headline will increase their ranks in search results.
Google does not like pages unadjusted to mobile devices. It has come so far that mobile pages are considered the more important ones. Therefore, it is recommended to treat the mobile version as the main version of a website.
If the mobile version is badly organised, and the user experience is unsatisfactory, it will influence SEO. Each, seemingly tiny, detail influences the relations of the user and the system, so it influences the rank. Everything should be intuitive, from registration to button design.
Moreover, keep in mind that what is good for the user is not always good for the search engine. It is, though, a matter of trial and error to strike a balance.
The users never see all the content, as eye-tracking research show. We know that they intuitively search for keywords that respond to their needs. What does it have to do with SEO? Well, if a user does not quickly find the content they look for, they will leave the page. And Google does not like it.
Fortunately, it can be dealt with, with the help of a few tricks.
SEO and UX meet here too. The importance of font, line spacing and text width should not be underestimated. The font and line spacing should be big enough whereas text width should not be excessive. Sidebar can be distracting while reading, so it is better to forego it.
If there is still a wall between UX and SEO departments, it is high time to pull it down! Only through a common strategy of these departments the imperative goal of any agency will be achieved - high conversion rate.