SEO is about more than content and link-building. But how can you combine user experience with traditional SEO techniques to get the best return?
Ask 20 people to define the fundamental principles behind SEO and at least half of them will probably tell you it is about making your site attractive to Google and other search engines. Of the rest, half will tell you they have no idea, and the others might cautiously mention user experience (UX).
The best SEO consultants know that SEO and UX are inextricably entwined. If the user experience is not right, the rest of your SEO effort will be impeded from the get go. On the other hand, however, factors that positively influence UX will also help SEO, leading to a virtuous circle of better conversions, higher rankings and an ever-increasing return on investment.
The right structure
Walk into a high street shop where stock is piled up all over the place and there is no assistant anywhere to be seen and you will probably walk out again fairly quickly and make your purchases elsewhere. The same applies to your website - only it is even easier to click the back button and try another site than it is to walk out of a shop.
Make sure your website is intuitive and gives visitors clear indications of what is where, along with calls to action to get them there.
A well-structured site also means that Google can crawl your pages more easily. Get it wrong, however, and not only will the web crawlers struggle, but the increased bounce rates will tell Google that you are not answering visitors' questions or meeting their needs, resulting in a double hit on your SEO.
Speed it up
It's easy to assume that with modern superfast broadband and 4G, loading times are not the issue they once were. Wrong. All that has happened is that visitors have become increasingly impatient. How long do you suppose the average user is prepared to wait for a page to load before they give up? According to researchers, the answer is less than three seconds – and stationery retailer Staples saw a 10% increase in sales when it sped its website up by just one second.
In short, the quicker your page loads, the sooner both users and Google will see something they like – good for UX, good for SEO and great for increased sales.
Better online content
Perhaps the biggest link between UX and SEO, however, lies in the content that resides on your site. It is worth taking a step back and thinking about how a search engine works. Clearly, someone types in a search because they are looking for the answer to some problem or challenge. You need to demonstrate to both Google and visitors that your site provides a better answer or solution than that of the competition.
Provide great content and people won't just want to read it and come back for more. They will also want to link to it in their own content and share it with friends.
You can see it in action right here in this blog. In the previous section, we linked to a BBC news article, because it perfectly illustrated our point about loading times. This provides a more informative read and therefore better UX for you, while enhancing the BBC's already considerable SEO.
Sponsored post. Copyright © 2017 Jon Wade is content manager at Freelance SEO.