Your website is important. If you have had anything to do with your company’s marketing and sales efforts, I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times. Your company’s website is like a treasure chest of information, resources, services and/or products that people are searching for — but the hunt for website gold shouldn’t be a challenging experience for your audience. Likewise, once on your site, users shouldn’t be following your “website map” in circles.
We often talk about search engine optimization (SEO) and user experience (UX) as separate goals — both important in their own right. SEO gets people to the website and user experience makes them stay, right? Wrong. Well, somewhat right! SEO and UX are more connected than ever before, and here’s why.
Websites are for Customers, Not Search Engines
This isn’t a revolutionary idea. Your customers are actual people. Instead of designing your website for search engines, design for human beings. UX goes beyond website layout to include content, graphics and how people interact with your site.
Before search engines like Google started looking at user behavior, you could add strong keywords and some decent content to a site and implement a solid backlinking strategy and you would probably see your site leapfrog over others. Now, that’s not enough to rank higher.
If users don’t find your website engaging, they’ll leave. Right away. You may have even done this yourself when searching. How many times have you clicked in and out of search results before finding “the one?” The one site that had beautiful graphics that pulled you in, content that actually answered your questions, links that helped you dive deeper into the information and other media that captured —and held — your attention.
Sites that don’t offer that experience tend to have higher bounce rates (when someone enters your website only to leave after checking out that single page), and don’t think for a second Google and other search engines won’t take notice.
Take Your Website Development to the Next Level
Ranking on the first page of results doesn’t have to be an expedition, but it will take work. It’s not as easy as “X marks the spot,” but there are some helpful tips to keep users on your site.
Start with a navigation that doesn’t require a lot of effort to navigate, a layout that follows a natural path for exploring and clear call-to-actions, then throw in mobile-friendly pages and fast page and content loading times — because who wants to wait?
And guess what? Those are pretty similar tips to improve your SEO, too. Like we said, SEO and UX are more connected than ever!
Putting SEO & UX Together
Instead of going to the SEO extreme or UX extreme, find a happy medium. Your website architecture can still be robust without being complex. Ask yourself, do I need five pages speaking to the same topic, or would one page and a few blog posts with high-quality content suffice?
Speaking of content, organization matters. You can have the best content on the internet but not rank on page one if you don’t organize that content effectively. Place targeted keywords in headings to improve UX and increase SEO at the same time. In the same vein, bring the website aesthetics together. Text size, layout, content flow, sections and so on can boost useability and SEO — which leads to more website traffic.
On a more technical note, be sure your website has fast page and content load times. This is huge not only for search engine ranking but for your users’ overall experience. We live in an instant gratification world, and if your site isn’t serving up what users need fast, you can forget ranking on page one. There are many elements you can optimize from images and graphics to video content. Also on the technical side, be sure you customize your meta descriptions and tags to help influence users to make the choice to explore your site.
Need a higher performing website, but not sure where to start with SEO and UX? Contact us and we’ll help your site become the treasure it should be.