What good is ranking well in the search engines if users do not click through, or even worse, do not convert? SEO should not stop with keywords. Successful SEO is more than organic discovery. It means exposing sites through organic search with the intention of users converting at the end of their experience.
If users are not purchasing or converting through search, there may be issues with your SEO strategy. For instance, metadata could be unappealing or irrelevant or landing page content could be misaligned with search attention.
Commonly, it’s user experience (UX) issues throughout the site that can thwart SEO conversion efforts. For this reason, UX design and SEO should be leveraged to create a seamless conversion experience. Let’s investigate the way UX can affect SEO and how to marry your SEO and UX relationship.
UX and Organic Promotion
A popular reason for SEOs adhering to UX best practices is an effort to receive backlinks from authoritative domains. A page with a positive user experience will elicit backlinks long before a page that’s spammy and cluttered will. Authoritative sites are more inclined to support sites with good design aesthetics and optimal functionality. While backlinks are still important, the other organic pay off of good UX design serves a greater purpose: conversions.
Making sure your site is user friendly will promote organic sharing – especially through social media. Promoting content through social media does not always bring backlinks, but the social signals you can gain from shared content may shed valuable insight into your audience.
By seeing what type of content users engaged with, you can understand how to speak to users’ pain points or interests. Segmenting content for your audience will help promote conversions, as opposed to serving general content to everyone in your target audience.
Ranking signals are moving more towards the user experience, which may eventually include social signals. That’s why implementing stellar UX designs will save you trouble in the future.
Future Ranking Signals
Google already understands bounce rate, dwell time, and many other engagement metrics. Because of this, I feel comfortable saying that future ranking signals could include user engagement. At the very least, engaging pages are correlated with a lower bounce rate, therefore a higher probability of users completing a conversion.
Whether you are interested in potential ranking factors or a higher chance of conversion, starting out with a user friendly design is essential to setting your site up for future success. When determining a site’s SEO friendliness, be sure to look at design factors that would affect conversions after a user clicked through. Auditing a site for SEO issues before it’s live, can reveal design problems that hinder users from engaging and ultimately converting.
Uncovering Design Issues with SEO
Diagnosing traditional SEO issues inherently leads to design flaws. A good example is header tags. Gauging a site’s effective use of H1s is part of the prevalent SEO onsite audit. Header tags should not be used for formatting; they should be used for readability. Designing header tags to help the reader navigate content encourages them to stay on the page longer, eventually coming to a conversion point.
Using header HTML elements correctly, also means screen readers will read the page easily, keeping those users onsite longer. Using a screen reader is a good way to reveal coding hindrances that could affect usability, making users abandon the page.
How To Do SEO With UX in Mind
The most important aspect of SEO is content, so assessing content with user experience guidelines can help make the most of your text. When building a site, the actual page content rarely comes before design. This means the most important aspect of a site is not included in the user experience.
Not knowing what content is going on each page before the design phase is over means that content won’t shine as brightly as it could. If you understand what content needs to go above the fold, you will be able to design a page that helps that content stand out. Apply the same idea in reverse. You can build elements below the fold that help the rest of your content get noticed, once above the fold real estate is taken.
The most important aspect of an SEO campaign is understanding how each effort affects the client’s bottom line. Traditionally, SEO success was measured by ranking keywords and some clients are still interested in that metric. But, once you start practicing SEO in combination with UX, your SEO KPIs should change.
Instead of relying on keyword position change, show the client engagement metrics from organic landing pages and ask yourself these questions:
- How long did a user spend interacting with optimized content?
- What was the change in bounce rate after you evaluated usability?
- Did users scroll past above the fold content?
What the user did after a click through is just as important as how they got there. Reporting using SEO and UX metrics combined will give you a full picture of the conversion funnel, creating more revenue and happy clients!
TM creates websites with user experience at the forefront of design, consistently combing SEO and UX best practices. If you need help or have any questions, contact us, we can help!