Once upon a time, rankings were all that mattered in the SEO arena. And at a point, it was a straightforward process. So straightforward that spammers were rewarded for aggressively trying to dominate search engine rankings.
Things aren’t so simple these days. Google has come up with a plethora of ways to combat this sort of behaviour; the type that prioritizes ranking over helping people fix their problems. During this evolutionary process, not only has Google changed SEO, but it has also changed SEO professionals and the mind-set of anyone looking to have some semblance of success in reaching their audience.
Provided you are among these SEO professionals who prioritize solving your audience’s problems, as opposed to resorting to some ham-fisted strategy to bombard Google’s front page, algorithm updates like Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird, aren’t likely to affect you that badly. Or at all really.
On the other side of the fence, the guys and gals who practice SEO like it’s a game of rugby continue to be hit hard over and over, reaping poor results, and worse.
Remember, unless a business is focused on its customers and their problems, it isn’t likely to grow. The same goes in the digital space.
SEO, however, is not the only thing that should concern you – there’s also UX. Let’s talk some more about how these two work hand in hand.
Why User Experience is Critical to SEO
Considering there is a whole field of UX optimization, which requires its own level of expertise, you won’t have to be a UX genius. In most cases, surface level knowledge of basic website UX principles should be enough.
UX optimization, in essence, is focusing on your website visitors. One might argue, we are also focusing on search engines — which is not inaccurate. However, if you tweak your perspective a bit, you will realize that search engines require things of us based on what searchers want. In other words, search engines are prioritizing visitors too.
Combining SEO and UX
When considering strategies to combine SEO and UX, keep in mind that not every option is worth pursuing. Just because a certain tactic worked for website A doesn’t mean it will work for website B. In fact, what was heaven-sent for website A just might be a nightmare when implemented on website B or C.
Below, we cover information on tactics that can make all the difference for a website; providing these tactics are properly implemented. So, without further ado, let’s get into it.
Reeling them in
When converting visitors, you first want to get them to click on your website. Now, you can aim to land on the front page of Google, and be on equal footing with every other top website in your niche. Or you can go the extra mile, and try and stand out among the crowd. This is where SEO plays its part in the SEO/UX combination. Here is some stuff to keep in mind when vying for the clicks:
- Title Tags
- URLs/breadcrumbs and
- Meta descriptions
Here’s why they matter.
A title tag is a clickable link in a search result. Considering there is such limited space, you’ll want to make it count. Besides, it is the first thing potential visitors will see. Keep in mind, the language used here should match the search or keyword. Be sure to include some extra bit of information that makes your title tag jump out at readers as they are scanning potential sites to visit.
The breadcrumb is the URL trail that follows the title tag. This too is important for reeling in potential visitors. Earlier we mentioned keyword research is super important in this process. Well, under keyword research, you have other factors such as search intent and searcher language. It is important that both of these are reflected in your “breadcrumb” to have searchers follow through with a click.
Meta descriptions are simple, straight forward text that follows your title tag. But as simple as the text may appear, getting the hang of writing them can be tricky. As is the case with most texts where characters (and attention spans) are limited. Long story short, whatever you say here may win you a click or disregard from a potential visitor.
Where UX Comes In
It’s not enough that your title tag and meta descriptions enticed users to click on your website. Now you have to keep them engaged. This is where UX shines or should shine depending on whether you are doing your job correctly.
Remember UX principles are all about focusing on your website visitor. Let’s have a look at some of the ways you can optimize your UX.
A clean logo can be invaluable. After all, it’s the first thing visitors see when they land on your site. It is important that your logo is not surrounded by clutter and is positioned intuitively. That way visitors have no room for confusion.
Another important element on your site, your header should help to reassure visitors they have landed on a relevant website. Relevant meaning you provide the information/service they need.
Typically the topmost header tag (H1 header) displays text similar to your title tag.
Visitors are likely to scan navigation to make sense of the website they are on. This also presents a unique opportunity for you to capture their interest. For instance, what kind of service do you offer? How many different services or products? Of course, this is also a great place to use keywords.
Earlier we mentioned ways to reassure visitors they have come to the right place. Chatbots are also a good way to achieve this. A bit of solid programming goes a long way. Having a chatbot to address common questions visitors are likely to ask can help potential customers understand what they are in store for. It also allows you to focus on bigger issues that will arise down the line.