UX and SEO – brothers in arms!
Why user experience and search optimisation need each other.
Search engine optimisation has always been a bastard in the High Home of Digital Marketing. And, in the eyes of other disciplines of the House, it looks more like Ramsay Bolton rather than John Snow (if you understand what I’m talking about). Also, recently, more often from various sources, sounds recommendations: “Do not focus too much on SEO, create content for users, not engines.” That, in theory, sounds simple and attractive, but often guided by this principle, developers ignore it entirely or postpone at the last minute. And the problem is that the search optimisation is tightly connected with the information architecture, which means that neglecting it you will eventually get a crooked architecture of the website, terrible navigation and bad user experience in general.
The ultimate goal of both methods in a commercial project is to increase conversion and eventually increase sales. Neither SEO nor UX can achieve the goal alone, but together they become a powerful tool. The optimisation is used to influence search engines, increasing traffic from delivery on relevant queries, but UX works with users who have already visited the site. SEO – to turn a representative of the target audience into a website visitor, UX – to make a visitor site by the client of the company. When SEO and UX work together, the product becomes more successful, optimised for search engines and same user-friendly time. At the strategy level, both SEO and UX solve the same problem – increasing the number of purchases, subscriptions or other user actions that determine the commercial success of the project. But from tactics, they differ.
“The Space Between Us”
SEO experts focus on learning what the machine wants (the search engine), while UX designers focus on what people need (users). There is a constant tug of war between man and machine.
The UX developer should keep in mind the needs of not only the user but the business objectives. In addition to creating a friendly and comfortable website, it should quickly and without causing any friction, to lead a visitor from the landing page to the checkout.
While for optimizers, the primary goal is content and its availability. Crawling a website, Google looking for specific pieces of information that can help it determine how much it matches the search query. In its way, it is also trying to help, both the user and the business, but with own understanding of what the visitors want. This situation causes search giant continues continuously improve their engines.
“Which Came First: The Chicken or The Egg?”
Jess Garrett offers five levels of developing elements of the experience of interaction. Designing the experience begins with the abstract needs of the user and the goals of the site and ends with specific solutions for visual design.
According to the scheme, the SEO specialist is working on the project either at the second level, describing the requirements for content, or at the third, participating in the development of the information architecture.
UX-designer connects to work in the third stage, designing future user interactions with the site interface.
SEO-specialist and UX-designer can help each other in work on information architecture, interaction design, graphic design and content. At the stage of work on the information architecture of the project, the primary task is to study the target audience, which will allow the UX-designer to understand the preferences of future visitors.
The preferences of visitors will help the SEO-specialist to develop the structure of the site. After he determines the structure, he should create a semantic kernel and cluster the requests. Based on the preferences of users, the semantic core and site structure, the UX-designer will be able to develop a navigation structure.
“We be of one blood, ye and I”
Below are some common elements of the website that affect both search engine optimisation and user experience.
Headlines (<H1>-<H6>) on the page tell visitors about its content and create a logical visual hierarchy. They also help you navigate the page. The only H1 headline should say what this page is about – both for a person and a search engine. Adding keywords to headlines improves ranking.
Clear navigation and intuitive site structure are essential not only for visitors but also for search engine optimisation. After all, it is a roadmap for search spiders, making it easier for them to crawl the site.
Many studies have shown that user factors, such as time spent on a site or a bounce rate, have a strong correlation with the higher ranking, although Google denies that they are factors directly influencing it. Remember that Google, like Big Brother, keeps track of everything and remembers everything, so any visitor interaction with your site is important because it shows the search engine how much people are interested in your content.
Website load speed is not just caring about the customer and business goals (everyone knows that every 100 milliseconds of delay costs Amazon in 1% of sales), but it is an essential factor in Google ranking.
In 2018, when the search giant officially released its mobile-first index, the factor of mobile-friendliness became a severe ranking factor. And speaking about this, it is necessary to consider the complexity of this indicator, not only speed but the mobile website in general – “look & feel”, navigation, content, images, etc.
“Let’s Come Together”
Despite the fact that the approach to solving problems is different, both SEO and UX have the mutual goals: to determine the problem that the user has and resolve it. And in the end, they need each other – the optimisation leads people to the website, and the development of user experience helps them achieve their goals (and business goals, as well). After all, if you build the most beautiful temple to which the trail does not lead, no one will come to it; and if the broad and beautiful road leads to a hut, where the toilet is outside, no one will want to stay there.