UX in SEO - User Experience in Search Engine Optimization

UX in SEO: What It Is and Why It Matters

User Experience (UX) is a very important component of successfully managing any website, and you should even consider UX in SEO as a key factor. You can’t prioritize one over the other. They must both align for the best results.

Let’s review how and why. First off, let’s dig into User Experience itself.

UX in SEO: What is UX Anyway?

As we mentioned before, UX stands for User Experience. While the term has an art and a science behind executing it the right way, UX is focused on user perception.

In other words, do visitors have a positive or negative experience when interacting with your website or software product?

Of course, you want to ensure that they feel positive when interacting with your tools and content. This is super important for attracting new visitors and converting those that do arrive on your domain.

Good UX is also key to bringing visitors back multiple times. If they have a poor experience, you should expect them to leave and never look back.

For most companies, the website is the first touchpoint with any key target audiences. UX is built upon multiple items including look and feel, information architecture, content, and more.

If you get it right, you’ll engage visitors with a customized narrative that will grab attention, pique interest, and convince them to proceed further down your conversion funnel.

So let’s review some of the items you need to align for this to work in your favor. Then, we’ll dig into why you must consider your UX in SEO strategies for optimal business benefit.

Only Publish Content That Will Be High Value For Your Target Audience

When someone arrives at your website, they will be there for a specific purpose. It’s your job to help usher them along in a clear and straightforward manner.

This goes beyond where you place buttons and links. Have you considered the layout of your content? Or it’s readability scores?

Both of these items matter, including how you display your content and how you copywrite for your target audience. When in doubt on the latter, write for the lowest level of comprehension you expect to have among your visitors.

In any case, aim to keep your writing style and sentence structures simple, logical, and relevant. When your content is easy to scan, read, and comprehend, you’ll enjoy better engagement numbers, more repeat visitors, and more overall traffic.

Simplify Navigation So Anyone Can Understand It

The worst thing you can do is build a confusing website where visitors get lost looking for the information they seek.

Don’t block them as soon as they arrive, for one thing. Avoid pop-ups, confusing CTAs, and dead-end pages as much as possible.

Even more importantly, be sure to map out a logical website architecture and navigation structure. Any visitor should be able to find what they want in three clicks or less. Avoid going more than three levels deep if at all possible.

Breadcrumbs are very helpful for visitors. When they can see where they are in the navigation visually, it will be easier for them to adjust if they went down the wrong path. And encouraging if they are in the right section.

Optimize Website Performance: Minimize Your Page Load Times

Let’s face it…everyone gets distracted easily in today’s overstimulated environment. If your pages take too long to load, visitors will lose patience and bounce to the next option on the SERP.

Google published a study in 2018 showing that more than 50% of mobile users will bail on websites that take longer than three seconds to load. That’s right…three seconds!

And the standard performance target for desktop was seven seconds, before mobile became the top platform for internet traffic a few years ago.

If you fail to optimize performance, you stand to lose traffic, damage your credibility, and miss out on potential new customers. Your bounce rate quite literally depends on whether or not people can view your website fast enough.

Some of the biggest culprits we run across include too many scripts blocking rendering, images that need compression or next gen file formats, poor web hosting response times, and a lack of caching whatsoever.

This is a huge one. By addressing these issues, you will increase your loading speed. Better performance will in turn help boost traffic, revenue, and credibility. 

Prioritize Mobile UX

Mobile is ruling the land these days. Google shifted to mobile-first indexing several years ago, after mobile searches became the majority. You simply MUST take mobile seriously.

Ideally, you will have a fully mobile responsive website that reflows itself based on the device making the request. This will adjust navigation, text sizes, headings, images, layouts, and more.

If you properly build your mobile user experience, you’ll be able to make a great first impression on new visitors. This is a crucial time for building brand trust and confidence in the website itself.

On mobile, spacing matters even more than on any other layout. Your logo likely needs to be downsized.

All buttons and clickable elements need to be spaced properly to avoid errant clicks. And you’ll almost certainly need to replace your master navigation with a hamburger or other hidden menu system.

Of course, it isn’t just about layout. You need to help usher them along as you will on your desktop UX, and use similar engaging content that is easy to read and presented in a format that works for the platform they’re on.

Remember to keep the both the content and design simple and smart. That way, mobile visitors will be able to find what they want quickly and easily.

Why is UX Increasingly Important for SEO?

Historically, search engine optimization efforts have focused heavily on rankings, i.e. positions for important keywords on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Rankings are heavily dependent on things such as on-page optimization and link profiles (anchor texts, contextual linking source, authority of linking domains, etc.). If you get those parts right, you should be able to rank well and boost organic traffic.

But what about when those visitors land on your website? It’s not enough to simply have a website with good content that ranks.

You also need to engage those visitors. Engagement leads to lasting relationships, repeat visitors, and ultimately, a healthy flow of converted prospects and leads.

Good UX will lower bounce rates and increase pages per visit, both of which can impact where you rank on the SERPs as well. It will also reflect positively on your brand, which can impact social media and word of mouth!

All of this is even more important with semantic SEO and machine learning so heavily weighted within Google’s latest algorithms. When attempting to match search queries with intent, Google uses engagement metrics to model which searches will be the most satisfied with your content.

Bottom Line: UX is part of as well as a huge complement to successful SEO.

Where to Start

Back in May of 2020, Google started touting Core Web Vitals (CWV) as the future of UX measurement. Since that time, they added it to Google Search Console as a special performance-focused report.

And in summer of 2021, they built CWV into the algorithm itself. So if your UX is sub-par, head over to Search Console and look at what Google is telling you to fix. Your organic performance heavily depends on getting this one right.

Other SEO and SEM analysis platforms such as SEMrush also offer Core Web Vitals auditing tools. If you prefer to use those platforms, feel free to do so. Just be sure you take time to review what could be improved, and get it fixed.

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As Founder and President of Return On Now, Tommy Landry provides the vision behind our SEO and SEM methodologies. With over 25 years of business experience and a deep understanding of modern internet marketing techniques, he spends his time providing hands-on consulting, insightful content, and engaging public speaking appearances to Online Marketers of all skill levels.
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