UX-SEO best practices
Currently, 53% of all trackable traffic comes from Search Engine Optimization (BrightEdge). Back in the early days of organic search, on-page keywords were one of the main factors used by search engines’ algorithms to determine a page’s content relevancy to the search query and rank it appropriately.
As black hat SEO practices such as keyword stuffing were becoming rampant, algorithms were being tweaked to refine their way of assessing user intent behind search queries.
As a result, other factors belonging to user behavior emerged and were poured into the algorithm recipe, which led to the birth of the broader concept of user experience (UX). It can be defined as the overall quality users have when navigating a website, from the moment they click on a result in the SERPS, until they leave said website.
As SEOs we optimize on-page content to reach for maximum visibility in search results and generate organic traffic, we also need to ensure a proper architecture when mapping out a website and its pages. Not only does this help search engines better understand the relation between the pages, it is equally an integral part of the user’s experience while navigating the website.
Here are the different levels at which SEO interacts with UX and how you can ensure your users are getting the best experience on your website.
- Findability and credibility on the SERP.
Users start experimenting with your website as soon as they land on a search engine results’ page. Therefore, the first thing to do is making sure that you can be found on a SERP such as Google’s.
One of the first element which impacts your ranking is whether you site is secure with an SSL protocol or not. Not only does this affect how users’ data is protected on your website because it lacks encryption, it can also prevent you from reaching a good position because Google sees your website as unsafe.
Other elements are also here to help engines and users alike consider whether what is behind you page will answer their query:
Users should have an idea o what the page’s content is about based on the structure of its URL.
It must be enticing to click on it, not only because it catches the eye but because of its relevancy to the query.
The “preview” of what your content is about. The more accurately is answers the user’s query, the more likely robots are to position your page in a top position, improving your chances in getting organic traffic.
Ensure that both the title tag and meta data accurately represent your page content, and that they are properly readable by users. Google tends to truncate them when they are over 600 pixels long, which results in user not being able to have all the information at hand.
- Second level of interaction: Content relevancy.
You must prove in a quick and simple way that your content is useful and worth reading. The first lines must confirm the initial visitor’s trust in your web page when they first clicked on your result. How can it be done? By introducing your content in a way that lets readers know it will answer their search intent, and much more.
Make sure the way you present the information is appealing to the eye but more importantly, that it adds value to the reader. The best way to go about it is by organizing your content is a way that is natural and easily understandable for human beings. The probability of a user going right back to the SERP (aka pogo sticking) will be lower if they find your content engaging.
This type of on-page optimisation is easy to implement with headings which can be compared to titles and subtitles. They rank from H1 through H6 and are also an indicator for crawlers to better understand the relevancy and structure of your content. In return, this can help in a better indexation and positioning in SERPs, which enhances the findability of your content as well as UX.
- Third level of interaction: Accessibility
The third dimension in the UX-SEO relationship (and it is a major one) is accessibility. What is the point of creating quality content and being found online if users with disabilities cannot properly access the content on your website?
Here are some easy implementations that can help you have an accessibility compliant website:
- Fourth level of interaction: Usability
Website usability can be divided between site speed and mobile-friendliness, pop-up obstruction as well as on-page navigation based on the website’s information architecture.
Your page and more generally your website’s design are primordial to ensure a good user experience. Indeed, colors schemes, how content is visually presented as well as interactivity can drastically improve, or worsen, the user’s experience during the first minute spent on your web page. A good look-and-feel substantially increases the perceived value of your page, and the odds for your visitor to stay on your site as well.
Page-load speeds and mobile friendliness.
Over the last few years, users have been more and more impatient: they want the right content, and fast. As a result, page speed has become a major factor in UX, and users tend to want to see a page content within 3 secs. Otherwise they will most likely turn around, resulting in a bad user experience signal attached to your page in the eyes of search engines.
To avoid that, ensure that the code of your page is optimized to have the shortest possible loading times. You can assess your site speed and see what can be done to optimize it with PageSpeed Insights from Google.
With over 50% of the search traffic coming from mobile users, and Google now systematically crawling the mobile version of websites first, mobile friendliness cannot be neglected.
Make sure that your website is responsive for mobile with easy-to-access understand menus, optimized content and images that fit accordingly based on the screen size.
Pop-ups: when it is possible, do not use them.
You know what pop-ups are: they are these little windows also known as modals that pop when you land on a page. They can be quite irritating, as they disrupt your content consumption in various ways. They most often appear while the page has just loaded and stay several seconds on the page, usually until you close it, obstructing the content you were looking for in the first place.
Because what matters the most to your visitor is to access your content ASAP, this kind of distraction create frustration, leading to a bad user experience.
On-site navigation must be easy.
Finally, think about your on-page navigation, starting with breadcrumbs menus (the small consecutive links at the top of pages used to navigate through content already viewed by a user during a visit). They make the navigation and structure of the information much easier to understand, both by users and crawlers, when they are set properly.
Conclusion: successful UX cannot be achieved without great SEO, and vice-versa.
Search engine algorithm are being tweaked everyday to better understand humans and therefore behave like them, user experience and search engine optimisation are intimately intertwined. Because of such a relationship, it is important for SEOs and UX designers to work together when (re)designing website to ensure that the right information architecture is being build for the user.
With a good website architecture and optimized content to ensure ensure your users are having a great experience, you are also increasing your chances of your pages performing well. This could reduce your bounce rate on page with thick content and/or improve user signals such as.
You now have all the keys in hands to achieve a great user experience and implement the best SEO practices at each level to deliver an enjoyable and seamless UX:
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