How Better User Experience Design Results in Better SEO Performance
Updated on August 23, 2021 | by James Stone
There was a time when keyword stuffing and backlinking were enough SEO practices to rank on top of the Google SERPs. Not anymore.
Google tends to update its algorithm guidelines regularly. Nowadays, user engagement has become an integral factor for deciding where your website should rank on the search engine.
The number of pages visited, bounce rate and even the time a user spends on your website is considered by the search engine to decide your ranking.
Google acknowledges human behavior to determine if the quality of your website (in all aspects) is worthy of ranking on the first page of the SERPs or not. As a result, user experience fundamentals have turned out to be intrinsic to improving the SEO of your website.
When you entwine user experience design with your SEO efforts, you will find your sweet spot where you will see an improvement in your rankings, audience retention, and brand credibility. But what exactly is user experience design?
What is User Experience Design?
User experience design is a process that is used to create websites focused on improving the experience of users as a whole. It is used as a basis to develop websites that are more meaningful and relevant to the audience.
The user experience design dictates how a user feels and how easily they can complete their tasks when they interact with your website. The better the design you offer, the better experience they will have.
The main aim of a good user experience design is to ensure your users have an overall pleasant experience when they visit and interact with your web page.
When your users have a good experience, they will spend more time navigating your website. The more time they spend navigating your website, the better it will be for your SEO.
Now that we know what UX design is, here is a list of fundamentals that you can incorporate into your strategy to give your SEO a boost.
UX Design Fundamentals That Help Boost Your SEO
Think of your content from your user’s perspective.
Before you start working on your topics or titles, answer questions like what do your users expect to come across when they visit your website? Or, what are their aspirations and goals with regards to their visit?
To find your answers, don’t stick to assumptions. Use methods like surveys and questionnaires to genuinely understand the crux of the problems. Then, turn these answers into your content.
Apart from user research, do your market research. See what and how your competitors are answering user queries.
You can use both to define problems, find relevant solutions, and provide better answers to those users. Answers that help your users understand why, how, what, and when of the query they search for on the platform.
One major conflict between SEO and user experience is the presence of more pages. If we focus only on SEO, the more pages you have on your website, the better it will be.
However, additional pages make it complex to navigate the website. Consequently, it leads to a poor user experience.
In the new digital world, things are shifting and for good.
You don’t need granular pages to rank for different keywords. Instead, focus on creating one piece of content that can rank for many but related keywords.
Your main focus should be to simplify navigation at the end of the day. So, based on the above practice, you can easily attempt to create one content-rich, user-friendly web page that can rank for several keywords/search queries by users.
You can interlink several topic clusters to one pillar page. This way you will not have to completely let go of your SEO practices and also, simplify your website navigation in the process.
The fewer, well-created pages you have, the better will be the user experience.
Your layout design and the way you have formatted your content (aesthetics, basically) on your website can sometimes disrupt your SEO. This is because when you focus on how your website looks and how appealing your users should find your website, you often overlook SEO.
But, the good news is that you can easily build a companionship between UX design, on-page SEO, and your layout formatting. Find the tips below.
Don’t stick to just one header.
Use H1 to put forth the topic that’s being covered and add the primary keyword to it. Use H2 and H3 to organize your supportive topics or ideas.
Provide links related to your content.
You can interlink your content on the website. Give your users a link to another related topic towards the end of the blog. It will help them learn more and also make them stay on the website for longer.
Make content digestible.
Word count does matter for SEO. However, don’t make your web copy too text-heavy. You can add bullets or numbered lists to organize your content. This also helps you bag the space on featured snippets on Google.
Divide your content into digestible chunks by adding breakers. These could be images, videos, or GIFs. This makes it user-friendly, appealing, and if you optimize your multimedia (add alt text), it boosts your SEO. The best practice is to add one image/video under every H2 in a blog.
You can further make use of a website checker to further see what elements you can add or edit to improve your on-page SEO.
Mobile phones have become an integral part of our lives. More than 50% of search traffic is driven by smartphones. It is, thus, crucial to ensure your website is optimized for mobile responsiveness. Otherwise, your website will hamper the experience of your users.
It’s not just mobile phones, but every device that should be kept in mind when optimizing your website for responsiveness. If your users have a poor experience, you will witness your user engagement rates drop tremendously.
As a result, it will affect your ranking on the search engines.
Hence, make sure your website is mobile-friendly when you are working on the design.
Site Architecture and Search Data
We have already discussed how you don’t need to create granular pages for different keywords. This is a part of decluttering; an approach that is more focused on quality rather than quantity.
Keyword research and search data are two crucial elements of SEO. But what is more important is the usage of this data. It can make a lot of difference.
Let us take an example of the keyword data of ‘eCommerce SEO’.
Now, if you are planning to optimize your web page for the keyword ‘eCommerce SEO’, you can identify all related long-tail keywords that you can use in your targeting strategy.
As you can see in the screenshot above, ‘eCommerce SEO services’ is a keyword that you can target if you are an agency that offers such services. Now, instead of creating granular pages for each of these keywords, try to incorporate them in one. Thus, taking a decluttering approach.
Now, if you are an SEO company, you can inform your site architecture based on these related keywords. You can maybe create separate H2s for each of these keywords. This will keep the content digestible, organized, and help manage your site architecture.
Your goal should be to find harmony between your website UX and SEO.
One of the important metrics that is often overlooked in a site’s performance is its load speed.
Today, the speed at which your site loads has turned into an important ranking factor. This means that if you don’t optimize your load speed, your website can get into trouble. This is because Google algorithms are user-centric and poor speed tends to deteriorate user experience.
On the contrary, if your website’s load speed is fast, you will be rewarded with a better ranking. This is true for both organic (SEO) and paid (SEM) means.
Thus, when you improve your load speed, it doesn’t only offer a good user experience. It also helps you impress the algorithm.
Creating harmony between user experience design and SEO helps make your website user-friendly and consequently, search engine-friendly. When you incorporate user experience design principles into your SEO efforts, it tends to bring better and improved results. These results could be in the form of better ranking and better audience engagement.
You can find your sweet spot by keeping your content digestible, your design organized, and your speed fast. Once you combine both UX and SEO principles, you’ll be home.