You know when you go to a website and it’s just…bad?

You can’t find the navigation menu, the page isn’t loading correctly, or pop-ups are keeping you from seeing the page at all.

That’s a bad user experience (UX).

A user experience designer works to enhance user satisfaction with a website by improving the accessibility, usability, and pleasure provided in the interaction with the site. 

You’re not supposed to notice good user experience design. You’ve probably come across thousands of websites with a good UX, and you didn’t even notice because it didn’t frustrate you.

You just found the information you wanted and then left.

If you’re one of those websites with a poor UX design, people are going to exit your website grumbling to themselves, and they’re going to find a better one that can give them the answers they need. 

But how does UX affect search engine optimization (SEO)? Is it better to design your website for the search engine or for the people actually reading your website?

If you need a refresher on SEO, we have a handy, in-depth 101 guide to help you. 

The Mission

Google’s core purpose is to provide the best possible results for every search query – they do this on the side of their other mission: taking over the world. 

While “best” is a subjective term, Google has a pretty good idea of the kinds of pages and sites that will satisfy their searchers.

Here’s what those sites tend to have in common:

  • Easy to use, navigate, and understand
  • Provide direct, actionable information relevant to the query
  • Professional designed and accessible to modern browsers
  • Deliver high quality, legitimate, credible content

Even though it’s incredibly technologically advanced, Google can’t yet understand text, view images, or watch videos the same way a human can. They rely on meta information about how people interact with sites and pages to decipher and rank content.

The meta information – not necessarily meta tags – gives them insight into the quality of the pages themselves.

There is a common misconception that you have to choose between optimizing your website for Google or customers. But we say:

“Por qué no los dos?”

How Does UX Affect SEO? You need both.
Both? Both. Both. Both is good. Gif credit

You can and should do both. Google’s ranking algorithm is complicated – to say the least – and there are hundreds of ranking factors, but Google is paying attention to your user experience more thank you may think. 

Does UX have a negative effect on SEO?

Oh no, Google’s paying attention to user experience. That must mean UX has a negative impact on SEO.

Thankfully, that’s super wrong!

UX usually only has a positive impact on SEO. You could get thousands of visits to your website a month, but if no one can convert due to poor UX, then it’s all for nothing.

Google is paying attention to user experience because it’s how it measures if the site was helpful or not. If you’re immediately clicking away from the first choice on the results page and clicking on the second one, that first result is likely going to be ranked lower because it didn’t answer your query.

Google is looking for the “long click” (aren’t we all?).

The search engine is looking for people clicking on one result and staying there for a while because the link was helpful and informative. It’s how they gauge satisfaction. 

The term “pogo-sticking” refers to searchers clicking onto an organic search result’s link, briefly checking out the content and returning back to the search engine result page.

Lots of pogo-sticking happening on your website tells Google that your content does not sufficiently answer the searchers’ query, therefore deeming your content unworthy of ranking highly. 

Google is trying to understand user behavior and interaction with the content. Getting a user to a website is only part of the process. You have to keep them there with good content and easy user experience.

Elements that fall to both SEO and UX

In the land of digital marketing, it’s rare for an aspect not to touch SEO somehow. Everything affects SEO and SEO affects everything. It’s like a spider coming down from the ceiling in front of your face.

You can’t ignore it.

There are elements of UX that are in the SEO realm and vice versa.

How UX Affects SEO
UX and SEO go hand in hand

Page speed

Half the internet expects a site to load in two seconds or less (wow, we’re all really spoiled now. Do you remember dial-up???), and they’ll abandon the site if it hasn’t loaded in three seconds.

Page speed is a UX problem because a slow site will frustrate your users, and it’s an SEO problem because page speed directly influences your ranking. When you resolve the issue, it’ll help both teams.

Mobile responsiveness

ICYMI: Google’s algorithm is mobile-first now and has been for a while. Any site that doesn’t accommodate mobile users is going to get pushed to the back.

The lack of a mobile responsive site will again, frustrate users and they’ll abandon your site in search for one they can peruse easily with their thumbs.

Internal linking

You might be thinking “wait, internal linking is just an SEO thing,” and you’d be incorrect, I’m terribly sorry. Internal linking within your site becomes an element of UX when users use the links to find more information and learn more about specific topics.

The links need to have accurate anchor text so the user will know what to expect when they click the link.

Content

Content generation is usually done with SEO in mind, but creating content without a real user in mind is a mistake. The content must have good readability and appeal to the user – A.K.A., answer their questions – if you want them to stay on the site.

Simple ways to increase the readability of your content is to use headers and bullet points.

Break up the content into smaller chunks of text that are easier to digest and skim.

And of course, add visual content to the page. You’ve heard the news that no one actually reads on the internet, so adding images and videos to your content will make it easier to process.

The Takeaway

UX and SEO must go hand in hand into the sunset. At this point, UX has to be a part of the SEO discussion. UX and SEO should work together to better the website, working as a team instead of independent parts. 

If you’re looking to optimize your user experience and SEO strategies, give Digital Strike a call. Consultations are free and our solutions are custom.

Digital Strike

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