Making SEO and UX Work Together
When designing user experiences for web, creating an experience your users love is the ultimate goal. But what good is a product that might benefit a user’s life if they don’t know it exists?
While traditional marketing, social media and content strategies can raise awareness about your product, so too can designing an experience that aligns with SEO and performs well in search engine rankings. Search engine optimization may not be the sexiest topic for designers to discuss, but design elements do come into play.
Let’s take a look at responsive mobile design, for example.
In April 2015, Google introduced an algorithm update that began penalizing websites and pages that weren’t mobile-friendly. These algorithms were intensified further with a boost last year. This is just one way that Google’s search engine algorithms can have an affect on a user’s ability to locate a website in the first place. It’s not just about keywords, though those are important to, it’s about how the performance of the site relates to the ease and accessibility for the user. It suggests that to really optimize a website, multiple teams within an organization need to have an aligned strategy.
6 More SEO Considerations That Affect UX
SEO and UX can have a direct impact on one another when it comes to a user discovering—and continuing to visit or use—your product.
This is not a conclusive list, but the below examples illustrate how certain factors not only affect a user’s experience, but its search engine rankings too. It shows how certain elements are intertwined and suggests that content teams and UX designers especially need to work together in order to achieve results on both traffic and user growth goals, as well as user retention.
- Page loading time – Google doesn’t like pages that take too long to load and neither do users. In this era of instantaneous results, websites that are weighed down tend to make users bounce and rankings dip. According to Kissmetrics, users will usually wait six to 10 seconds before jumping ship. However, every second counts. They report that if an e-commerce website is making $100,000 a day, a delay of just one second has the potential to cost $2.5 million in lost says each year. Performance matters for SEO, UX and your company’s bottom line.
- Content – Content’s still king. Content teams harness the power of keyword research to drive users to the site, but once the users get there, it’s often up to the UX designers to determine how a user interprets and experiences the rest of the site.
- Unnecessary elements – Things like pop-ups, music, surveys and videos can also have a negative impact on bounce rate, Kissmetrics also reports, which can in turn have a negative impact on the overall experience. While the relationship between a page’s bounce rate and its impact on Google rankings isn’t clear, if these things are causing people to leave a site, it means they’re not part of a user’s ideal experience either. They also can slow down a page too, so choose their placement wisely and strategically.
- Keyword and analytics data – User research is important, but so too is monitoring analytics to see who is actually using your product. Analytics tools will show you what users are searching to end up on your site and who these users actually are – where they’re from, how old they are, what they’re interested in and so on. This can be valuable insight that can help you to adjust and maximize your UX and your UX strategy on an ongoing basis.
- Accessibility – The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is expected to rule on Title I and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 2018 regarding the regulation of accessibility standards on the web. This will determine what accessibility measures companies legally need to have in place on their web products. Google, however, already penalizes websites for not being accessible. It bases this on a number of factors including simple things like alt tags. Ensuring your UX is compatible for all users not only prevents accessibility penalties, but also opens your site up to the potential of more users.
- Links – (Authentic) backlinks and social media mentions matter for a website’s search engine ranking. What better way to grow links organically than through your user base? Users that love your website/product will naturally want to share it on their own platforms. Positive sentiment counts, not just for your rankings, but for how your users experience your product too.
User experience design and SEO have a relationship. It may not always be front of mind, but it is an important partnership to be aware of and to factor into your strategy, especially when building web-based products. Characteristics that help a website rank higher in search engines are typically positive associations that suggest trustworthiness, credibility and longevity—three things that no doubt matter to your users, too.
What are your thoughts on UX and SEO? Is this something you think about in your work? Let us know in the comments.