November 28, 2022
Improve your website’s discoverability by enhancing its user experience. Our guide will walk you through how to effectively blend UX & SEO for the best results.
User experience design (UX) and search engine optimisation (SEO) are generally considered two entirely separate disciplines. However, in the modern online landscape, they are fast becoming core functions of each other and can be blended to produce astounding results for businesses.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the ins and outs of how to merge UX and SEO so you can maximise their shared power for your website.
You’ll be able to enhance both online discoverability and user experience with a powerful combined approach.
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Let’s take a step back and look at SEO from a birds-eye perspective.
Search engine optimisation is the digital marketing discipline that helps websites be found in the unpaid/organic areas of search results. With a particular focus on Google Search, since it is the most popular search engine around, SEO professionals aim to rank websites in the top-most coveted positions of search pages due to their high conversion potential.
These days, it’s not enough to just make it to the top. You’ve got to earn your continued placement there.
Google’s core mission is to deliver the best experience to its users as they go through their search journey. This means that not only do the results it serves have to be relevant to search queries in the exact moment they’re searched, but the end-to-end experience of a user must also be up to par with best practices at that point in time.
Google’s second biggest mission is to fight against web spam. In fact, its search engine crawlers discover over 40 billion spammy pages on the internet per day.
When such web pages are allowed to infiltrate search results, searchers end up having to wade through a bunch of unhelpful listings before they can find the answer they’re looking for. This is why search engines like Ask Jeeves are no longer in circulation.
When we synthesise this information, what we’re left with is a very obvious connection between SEO and user experience signals.
User experience has always been at the heart of Google’s approach, and that’s why Google stands head and shoulders above all other search engines today.
However, the reason user experience hasn’t been considered a major aspect of SEO before now is that it took a little while for Google to measure user experience signals and bake them into its algorithms.
These days, if you’re not considering the effect UX has on SEO, you’ll be left behind. And your competitors that deliver a better user experience will be the ones ranking at the top and leading the way in your industry.
Since Google is the market leader as a user-centered search engine, it has also paved the way by establishing measurable user experience benchmarks. Traditionally, it has been very difficult to ascertain a user’s experience on a website.
While we’ve had metrics from tools like Google Analytics, it was long believed that the more time someone spends on your web page, the more engaged they are. But what about the experience of frustration when someone is trying to take an action on the page, and it’s simply not working?
Google Analytics metrics provide no insight into such experiences of frustration.
That’s why Google developed its own benchmarks for measuring the experience from an actual user’s perspective, and in May 2020 it made these signals a part of its algorithm. These signals are known as Core Web Vitals and they officially became the user experience benchmarks Google uses in its algorithm when it launched the Page Experience Update. But these aren’t the only UX ranking factors that Google has considered over time.
Let’s take a look at all of the UX signals that now have a direct impact on your SEO performance. If you choose to ignore these, it won’t be long before Google determines your website is irrelevant or of a low standard.
Google’s focus on improving the user experience of search results traces back as far as 2011 with the release of the Panda algorithm update. This update began to target sites with low-quality content and removed them from search results.
At the time, many people succeeded with SEO by keyword stuffing and trying to reverse engineer the algorithm by giving it the signals they discovered it prioritised. Instead of delivering a quality experience online, they would try and hack the algorithm.
These days, Google’s focus is on ranking websites that provide helpful content. It also continues to upgrade its algorithm that detects content quality signals as it progressively raises the bar on what it defines “content quality” to be.
The best SEO agencies understand these E-A-T factors and focus on implementing them every week. There is a correlation between how authoritative a website is and the experience it is able to deliver. People trust expert information on authoritative sites more than any other type of information.
So your ability to boost your website’s expertise and authoritativeness will also influence how much people trust your brand.
It’s a well-known fact that people now use mobile devices more than their laptops and computers. That’s why Google upgraded its algorithms to become mobile-first in 2015 and has released a few related updates since then.
As such, Google bases a website's performance on the mobile version instead of the desktop version. If your website isn’t very mobile-friendly, or if it loads much slower for mobile users, you might have trouble ranking high on search results.
Time on site and bounce rate are two metrics measured by Google Analytics. Time on site indicates how long a visitor spent on a web page, while bounce rate relates to how many people left the page without taking any further action.
To get a better idea of the type of experience someone had, you need to take these metrics into account with respect to each other. For instance, by looking at the time on page in isolation, one might assume that the longer someone spent on the web page, the more engaged they were.
However, if it is paired with a high bounce rate, this tells a different story, meaning people did not find what they were looking for, so they left instead of navigating deeper into your website.
Many design elements affect both of these metrics, and we’ll cover the most important of these below. At EngineRoom, all the websites we design have user experience at the forefront. This is the secret to how we deliver high-converting websites to our clients time and time again!
Page speed has been a critical user experience metric for a long time. In 2006, Amazon’s software engineers discovered that even 100ms of additional loading time cost them 1% in revenue. By today’s standards, that’s around $4.7 billion lost in the time it takes to blink your eyes!
Many other prominent companies have tested the impact between loading time and online conversions. As people become more reliant on mobile technology, there is simply no excuse for a poor-performing website.
To deliver a positive user experience, it is ideal for each page on your site to load in less than 3 seconds (fully-loaded time).
LCP is one of the three Core Web Vital (CWV) metrics, and it is all about how long it takes a page to load from the point of view of an actual user. A page doesn’t need to be fully loaded in order for a user to start reading it.
But if your page’s content does not start to display until the full page has loaded, this is going to give users the impression that your site is slow, and it leads to a poor user experience.
FID is the second CWV metric. It measures how quickly someone can actually start interacting with the elements on the page. Ideally, you want people to be able to click on elements that show up on their screen within 100ms.
The final CWV metric is CLS which is about how much elements on a page change positions as the page loads. If you’ve ever tried to click on something while a page is loading only to realise it moved and you accidentally clicked the wrong thing, that’s the issue CLS aims to fix. The ultimate goal is to minimise the number of shifts that take place.
[feature_link]Learn more about the Core Web Vital benchmarks and how to improve them.[/feature_link]
If you notice that visitors to your website aren’t converting as well as they once did, or you think the conversion rate could be better, it’s likely there’s a user experience issue that needs your attention. It’s also likely you need to improve your UX if you notice that web pages that were once ranking quite high in search results start to slip.
At EngineRoom, we help our clients deliver an excellent user experience surpassing benchmarks. Better yet, we help them stay ahead of the curve so they maintain their SEO rankings (and improve them) over time.
Here are our top tips to help you do the same.
In order to succeed online these days, you need to integrate UX design with your SEO strategy. There’s no denying how important user experience is when Google’s algorithm determines search engine rankings for keywords.
Not only do you need to target relevant keywords in your content. You also need to ensure your content meets the search intent and delivers the experience a searcher expected or was looking for. For example, if someone types a question into Google that you want to rank for, your content must answer that question while also providing a seamless user experience journey.
You can achieve this through the design of your web page and also ensuring it meets the benchmarks of technical performance that impact user experience.
A 90-minute strategy session gives you a clear plan for business growth.
Despina is a Senior SEO Consultant with 8+ years of experience growing B2B, e-commerce, SaaS, and national brands.