How great SEO can improve the user experience

Designing your online content with UX in mind isn’t just great for your customers, it’s also an ideal way to boost your SEO. Join us for a look at how these two business areas can better support each other.

Customers are the heart and soul of any business and that means that they deserve the best possible user experience (UX) you can provide. But the benefits of a great UX aren’t just confined to great word of mouth and robust customer loyalty. When you design your content for UX, you’re also likely to boost your search engine optimization (SEO).

The connection between UX and SEO is significant but it’s also often not well understood. The reality, though, is that UX and SEO are linked principally because they share similar purposes. Both are intended to promote site navigability, accessibility, and ease of use.

In this article, we’ll look at the relationship between UX and SEO, and provide some strategies you can use to enhance your web design and content development.

Web accessibility

One of the key aspects of ensuring an exceptional customer experience is web accessibility. By designing content that is easy to access and engaging for consumers, regardless of their individual needs, you will inevitably be meeting high SEO standards as well.

Site navigability, for example, is a key attribute of SEO design, and is also a prerequisite for accessible web design. A site that includes plenty of internal links and subheads makes the content more accessible for those who are neurodivergent or have a learning or developmental disability. This navigability also makes the site easier for search engines to parse and rank.

The same is true for the inclusion of alt-text to describe still images and video content. The provision of alt-text ensures accessibility for persons who have vision impairments. At the same time, it also enables search engine algorithms to more readily assess and index site content, which is central to good SEO. 

Content loading and layout shift

major search engines, such as Google, are now prioritizing other factors that impact the overall user experience. For instance, Google algorithms are now relying heavily on what it terms “core web vitals” to evaluate and rank websites.

These core web vitals are closely aligned with the UX. Among the most significant of these are metrics relating to page loading times and page layout stability. 

For optimal UX, and, therefore, to achieve a high search engine rank, page loading times should not exceed 2.4 seconds. In addition, layout shifts (the degree to which content on a page moves when users try to interact with the page), should be minimal. Instability and fluctuations on a webpage can compromise the overall user experience.

When pages take too long for the full content to load, or when the layout is constantly shifting when the user engages with the page, time on-page metrics will decline, and bounce rates will surge. All of these signal a poor user experience and, consequently, bad SEO.

Being mobile-friendly

Now more than ever, audiences want to be able to access whatever content they want, when they want it, and how they want it. This includes, increasingly, the desire for mobile-friendly content that is just as engaging and accessible on tablets and smartphones as on laptops and PCs. 

In as much as the ability to access content when and how you choose is tied to the overall user experience, it’s also increasingly aligned to good SEO. Search engine algorithms are prioritizing user experience more than ever before, and a suboptimal mobile interface is going to lead to suboptimal SEO.

Optimizing site architecture

Another critical aspect lies in the architecture of the site. One of the most difficult questions both web developers and content creators face is “how much is too much?” when it comes to building and populating a website or web page.

The key to optimizing the user experience and supporting SEO is finding balance in the design of the site. If the site architecture is flawed, users are going to be overwhelmed. 

A poorly built site that’s overloaded with content or whose content is difficult to access will be frustrating and off-putting for audiences. They may not understand what the site is for and how it is intended to serve their needs and interests. Similarly, they may simply become overwhelmed by the content and mystified as to how to find the materials they want and need. 

Either way, they’re likely to bounce — and if you aren't careful, an inflated bounce rate will negatively affect your search rankings.

Key points to remember

UX and SEO are strongly interconnected and interdependent. As the major search engines increasingly deploy algorithms that prioritize UX, designing for user experience is becoming instrumental. The key lies in ensuring web accessibility, designing for mobile platforms, and ensuring rapid page loading times and minimal page layout fluctuations.

Want to know how other digital marketing disciplines can interact with, and improve your UX efforts? Check out our recent blog post on the relationship between user experience and growth hacking.

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