When people talk about different marketing methods, user experience (or UX) can often be described in isolation to SEO. However, UX is a very big part of SEO and should be regarded as such when you are building a website. One common problem with developing effective websites is that the website designer is often given accountability of the UX and the SEO aspect is planned separately. But this is really bad practice, as UX is a fundamental part of SEO.
If you take a look at Google’s very handy SEO Starter Guide, you will soon see that the user is very much the focus of everything that they do. Or to look at it from another angle, they reward the websites who put in the time and effort to make the user experience great. By reward, we mean that they will rate those websites higher in their search ranking results.
So if Google says that user experience is a big concern to them, you know that you should do everything that you can to make that experience a really good one, or else you will not be benefitting from organic traffic. Now it is one thing saying that UX is important but how do you get it right?
Align your UX and SEO strategies
First of all, you need your UX and SEO strategies to be aligned, instead of working in separate lanes. The key objective of your website should be to drive more leads and ultimately conversions. Both SEO and UX have big parts to play in this but they must work together to achieve that goal. It is pointless spending all of your time and effort on UX and neglecting SEO or vice versa. So if you are a large business that has separate people working on SEO and UX design, the first thing you should do is bring those workstreams together. In fact, it is thought that the most sought-after web designers in the future will be SEO experts as well as top quality designers.
Site structure and simple navigation
One factor that search engines pay a lot of attention to is the structure of your website and the ease at which users can navigate around it. Google tells us that navigation helps visitors to quickly find what they want and “can also help search engines to understand what content the webmaster thinks is important”. Your homepage should have easy and clear navigation that enables users to visit the pages they are interested in.
Sitemaps are a good way of helping search engines to understand and index your pages. A good menu structure and text-based links between pages are two good practices that will ensure that your website is favored by search engines in that measurement criteria.
With increasing numbers of users accessing websites from a variety of different devices, it is important that this is considered in the design of any website. If a mobile user visits your website and cannot see the navigation menu or has to scroll left and right across the page to be able to read text, that is a poor UX. And as we eluded to before, poor UX means a big thumbs-down from the search engines. So making sure that your website is easily accessible for any type of device and any browser should always be a top priority.
Keep it simple
We talked about simplicity in terms of the navigation of the site but simplicity should be a recurring theme throughout your website. Obviously, you still want to make your pages and their content look attractive but you need to avoid overcomplicating your website. Giving users too much content to look at or too many options to choose from in a drop-down menu, for example, can really impact the UX.
Try to keep your pages uncluttered and clear of any unnecessary content. It can be tempting to start adding lots of images to try and give the page more color and life but this can have negative results. So always make sure that any images that you use are relevant and are emphasizing content/messages.