UX and SEO both share the goal of helping users to complete their tasks by providing them with relevant information. SEO leads a person to the content they need, where as the UX answers their queries once a user ends up on the webpage.
At various points in our careers, there come periods where we are so knee-deep into our specialisations, that we sometimes miss out on the bigger picture.
This is especially true of young SEO professionals (in some cases even the experienced ones too!). A widespread misconception among them perfectly summarises my first line in this article above.
Many in the field assume (sometimes even convinced) that SEO is all about link building, clicks and keywords. It sure is! But it also is so much more! Among the gazillion factors Google takes into account while ranking pages, UX is right up there on its list of priorities.
Think of SEO and UX as two halves that are part of a larger umbrella – User acquisition and conversions.
Good SEO lays the bait, cooks up a mouth-watering aroma and entices Google to push your site up the rankings. As with good food, users would want to see a suitably sumptuous dish at the end of the aroma trail. Great UX is that dish.
Here’s a real-world example when I search for “funniest movies 2019”:
Sure, cosmopolitan punches above its weight and outranks Marie Claire on the list.
But the light-hearted, contextually relevant description of the latter, won me over when compared to the long-winded, heading-nowhere description of the former.
Not only did good SEO help Marie Claire rank on Page 1, but great content (a subset of UX) also closed the deal luring me to make that click.
Good UX begins right from the SERP…
…in order to rank, you need to nail search intent with the magic of language.
Gone in 6 seconds:
So, you’ve done it. SEO’ed your way to the top SERPs. A catchy line to attract the user to the page.
A screen that takes 10 seconds to load.
The entire journey falls like a house of cards.
“10 seconds is fast enough right?”, I hear you mutter. The below quote by Maile Ohye, former Developer Programs Tech Lead at Google will help add some perspective
“2 seconds is the doorway for e-commerce website acceptability. At Google, we aim for under a half-second”.
Let that be a reality check as you go forth and test your site speed. Start bringing in the speed. Now!
Ain’t nobody got time for that:
We live in an impatient world that needs things at the blink of an eyelid. Rising bandwidth speeds, reduced internet bills, apps for everything… Everything is moving at breakneck speed. So much to see in so less time!
This is the kind of users we’re catering to in the present day. Page loading speed is the next step to lull your users into familiarising themselves with your website.
Chief culprits when it comes to extending load times are heavy imagery. Always resize any image that goes up to the exact requirements, not a pixel more, not a pixel less.
Make use of tools like tinyjpg.com to compress images and supercharge those loading times.
Skip the shady providers and get a hold of a reputed domain hosting service like Amazon. While marginally expensive, this simple upgrade will save you the hassle of long loading times, unexpected downtime, etc.
All the small things:
What irritates or bothers us when we visit a site is what irks your users as well. Use apps like Evernote to quickly make a note of such encounters so that you will be better informed while creating a memorable experience for your users.
Some top-of-the-mind observations
- Avoid interstitials like the plague. Avoid pop-ups unless they are absolutely necessary.
- Ensure that buttons and links are spaced far enough so that they can be tapped easily with a finger on mobile
Coming to think of it, SEO professionals don’t need to be full-fledged UX experts in their own right.
But they can’t also be living under a rock when it comes to UX trends and user preferences.
Here is how UX design and SEO are connected and how can be integrated strategically:
Get this into your head-ings!
In this content jungle, the easier you make it for customers to follow a path, the better.
Rather than them landing in a dense forest, create dirt roads around the wilderness for them to choose where they want to go.
Headings such as the H1 tags, H2 tags, and H3 tags help readers and search engines to understand the contents of each paragraph and section.
H1s lead the tribe and are pointers to the first piece of content on the page. This is followed by H2s and H3s in sequential order.
Two roads diverged in a wood… and created confusion!
Don’t confuse your readers. If they get lost in a labyrinth of sections and subsections, they’ll leave in a jiffy.
Creating orderly site navigation and structure will not only help searchers find their way around but search engines too.
Not everyone is going to land upon your site through the homepage. So, you’ll have to give them ample access throughout the site, especially the homepage.
Finally, a clear-cut site structure and navigation can also land your sitelinks in Google search results.
Slow and steady doesn’t win the race here…
Let’s face it, your users don’t have much time. So, if you’re going to lose precious seconds with a slow-loading site, all your SEO efforts are going to go to waste.
Your mobile page speed, especially, is extremely important since Google considers it to be an essential ranking factor.
The more content you have on your website, the more crucial it is to keep an eye on your site speed.
Being the tortoise will clearly not help you win the race here.
The key to perfection is in never being satisfied and keep on testing. With changes happening to your site almost every day, it’s important to test everything.
It’ll not only help you learn more but help you recognise your shortcomings and weak points so that you can improve on them.
Creating a perfect balance will help you create websites that not only work well with users but search engines too.
Now go and keep your balance on the tight-rope walk!