SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is the process of using intricate techniques and strategies to obtain a high-ranking placement in the search engine results page (SERP).
There is often the common misconception that SEO involves simply link building and including relevant keywords in content. While, undeniably, these are important SEO strategies, search engines consider a lot more than this when ranking websites.
Everything that we do in the sphere of web marketing has to have the visitor in mind. This especially includes your search engine optimisation processes. Think: Is your website fast, secure and mobile friendly? Is it easy to navigate? Do you have quality content that encourages visitors to stay on your website? These are all factors that affect user experience (UX) and are considered by Google when determining how to rank your website.
The evolving algorithms
Search engine algorithms are constantly evolving – what used to severely impact search engine results may not have the same effect now. Today, search engines are not just serving up content to answer questions, they’re also collecting data on how people are interacting with your website.
Over the past ten years, Google’s Panda update (2011), Hummingbird update (2013) and RankBrain update (2015) favoured a more user-centric approach. RankBrain itself is one of the most significant factors in determining the SEO value of your website. Driven by metrics such as pages per session, bounce rate and click-through rate, Google can gather this data to determine whether your site is a user-friendly resource, which will then impact your ranking.
Even the BERT update (2019) is about search and intent. Focused on the user’s query, the update aims to provide results which are specific to the intent of the search, ignoring spelling mistakes and slight modifications. Google has completed this update with the user experience in mind, wanting to provide users with the information they desire as soon as possible.
Taking a more human-centred approach
As search engines continue to update their algorithms and become more user-centred, the boundaries of traditional SEO continue to blur.
Looking to provide searchers with information that answers their queries, both SEO and UX share the goal of helping users complete their task by providing them with relevant information as quick and efficiently as possible.
How can I align my strategies?
One of the main objectives of your website is to generate leads and conversions, and both user experience and SEO practices are integral to this. By aligning and integrating your approaches, you can work successfully towards this unified goal.
Think: Does the user care about your content?
Usefulness, value and credibility are all important factors that relate to the content you are providing your audience. If your content isn’t answering their questions or showing your expertise, it will have no purpose to the reader. If your audience isn’t interested, they won’t engage with your content, continue to explore your website or return. Google will understand that visitors to your website are not engaging with your content and this will affect your ranking.
Think: Can the user easily accomplish their goal?
If your website isn’t easy to navigate, your audience is likely to return to the search engine and potentially click through to a competitor. Tracking visitors to your website and viewing the journey the user takes, which is known as user testing, is important. In doing so, you can make amends where appropriate and not only optimise your conversion rate, but also keep visitors coming back. Two factors which are very important to your SERP ranking.
Think: Can the user access all the information they need?
Having an accessible website that is optimised for a range of platforms and browsers is integral to the experience of people on your website. If not optimised properly, certain users may find that they are limited in what they can and can’t see on your website, which will make them leave quicker than they came. By creating a responsible design in your front end development, you can ensure your website works cross-browser, cross-platform and cross device.
Taking a human-centred approach creates meaningful interactions by focusing on what the user needs and expects from your business’s website. By simply understanding what your visitors want from your website, you can meet them at every touch point to ensure a positive interaction. With this affecting your SEO ranking, it’s important to get it right. After all, UX + SEO = Success.
In order to stay on top of the game and high in the search results rankings, it’s imperative that you continue to develop your marketing strategy. The online world of digital marketing is constantly developing, so continuous attention is vital. Fall behind and you’ll be back where you started.
With over 14 years’ worth of experience in delivering excellent search engine optimised campaigns, we can support you in aligning your SEO and UX strategies. At EDGE Creative, we continue to help you identify visitor pain points and can tweak and test your customer journeys in order to maximise user experience and keep you ranking highly in search engine results. Call us on 0121 355 8092 to see how we can help.