Whenever you’re trying to promote a website, product, service or brand online, you’re focused on search engine optimization. You’re producing high-quality content, aiming at appearing on the first page of Google’s results.
The goal seems pretty simple, but it’s a complex process that requires tons of time and effort (and investment!) to succeed.
Google doesn’t make SEO easy on us.
It often changes its algorithms, so we find that what once worked is no longer applicable to our strategies. To get an idea of how hard it is to rank, just consider the fact that Google works according to 200 ranking factors. Yes. 200 of them! There’s an even bigger problem: we can never be 100% sure what those ranking factors are.
There is a list alright, but only a small percentage of the items on it are proven. Others are pure speculations.
What we do know for a fact is that Google is doing its best to improve the experience of its users. The search engine has one mission: to deliver relevant results to its users.
That’s where UX design gets in the picture.
Photo by Moose
The definition of UX (user experience) design is pretty simple on its own: it is “the process of creating products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users.”
As usual, it gets more complex as you dig in. UX design takes part in the entire process of designing and branding the product. It’s vital to find the connection between UX design and SEO.
Martina Sorgi, the marketing expert at UKBestEssays, explains the link between the two concepts: “User experience is critical to Google, so you have to consider that factor in your SEO campaign. SEO is no longer about keywords; it’s about showing how your website offers a great experience for Google users. SEO is about the search engine, and UX is about making your website’s visitors happy. Together, both these strategies work in perfect synchronization.”
Are you ready for the specifics? How exactly can you use UX design to improve your SEO rankings? We’ll give you 5 tips on that.
1. Boost the Site’s Speed
Think from your own angle as a website user: what’s the first thing you expect when checking out a site? Responsiveness. You don’t want to waste multiple seconds while waiting for the page to load. No matter how much you want to see that content, the waiting makes you nervous.
Your website’s speed is definitely an element of UX design. It makes the experience faster and more convenient for the users. But what about Google? Does the search engine consider the site’s speed when showing it in the search results?
There’s a thing called the Speed Update, which was announced in January 2018.
“Although speed has been used in ranking for some time, that signal was focused on desktop searches. Today we’re announcing that starting in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches.”
That’s what Google’s webmasters said, so it’s something you can take for granted.
There are several things you can do to improve your website’s speed:
- Compress the images, so they will load faster.
- Enable caching, so returning visitors won’t have to wait for the site to load.
- Optimize the code!
- Change the server if it’s not good enough.
Illustration by Dropbox Design
2. Do Everything in Your Power to Keep the Users at Your Website
The time your users spend on a page is a confusing factor, and we cannot be sure whether or not it affects the rankings. Still, if you’re aiming for a great user experience, the time they spend on the page is an important indicator. The more they stay, the more they like the content. The more they stay, the more likely they are to share, comment, or take another type of action. That being said, it’s clear that the time on page is the tightly connected to multiple other factors, which do affect SEO.
What can you do to improve this factor?
- Whenever you publish new content, include links to relevant old content at your website, so you’ll keep the visitor exploring.
- Provide cool visual content. Should we even start telling you how important visuals are to today’s Internet users? Videos, in particular, will engage your readers and will keep them longer at the website.
- Make the content readable! If it doesn’t solve issues easily and effectively, your visitors will bounce off without trying to get the “deep” message you’re trying to convey.
3. Remember the Call to Action
The website’s speed and responsiveness are important, but you have to incorporate calls to action to achieve all UX goals. You want to provide solutions to the visitors, and that means indicating the next step for them. If, for example, you invite them to change their life by reading a book, you have to include a call to action that helps them find the right book at that very moment.
Not every visitor will be ready to take the action, but the call should still be there, just as an option.
So clearly, the call to action boosts the user experience, but what does it mean for SEO?
There’s a pretty simple answer to that question: Google looks at the end user data, which involves click-through rates. Since your calls to action boost the click-through rates, it’s clear that this factor affects the rankings.
Illustration by Unfold
4. Write Better Meta Descriptions
We already know how important meta descriptions are for SEO. They tell the search engine what your content is about, but they also tell the Google readers what your content is about. That’s how they are connected to UX, too.
Back in 2009, Google announced that the meta tag was not being used in search rankings. If you write it well, however, it impacts the click-through rate. When someone gets Google’s results and they see a description that hints a complete answer, they will definitely click on that link. Since click-through rates affect the rankings and the meta tag affects the click-through rates, it’s clear that it’s still not time to abandon the practice of writing good meta descriptions.
- First and foremost, the meta description should include a relevant keyword.
- A rich snippet is a must! A visual will attract the attention of the Google user, so it’s more likely for them to read the actual description.
- Remember: as of December 2017, you can write longer meta descriptions of up to 300 characters. Use that opportunity to write complete and meaningful descriptions.
5. Focus on Providing Great Mobile Experience
John Mueller, a Google webmaster, answered an important question during a Google+Hangout in February 2016: Are AMP (accelerated mobile pages) a ranking factor? At that point, the answer was no.
Google’s latest updates, however, are strongly focused on the mobile-first strategy. Basically, the mobile version of your website is the starting indexing point. A mobile-friendly user experience is definitely important for search engine optimization.
- Navigation and responsiveness – those are the two main factors of a good mobile experience.
- The design is super-important. Even button sizes will impact the experience of a mobile user, so you have to pay attention to every single element, no matter how insignificant it seems. If it improves the user’s experience, it will also affect SEO.
- Tiny menus are a no-no. Make the menu a prominent feature of the mobile design, so the users will easily find what they are looking for.
Illustration by Nutsa Avaliani
User Experience + Search Engine Optimization = Winning Combination
When you’re focused on search engine optimization, your strategy must evolve beyond the linear approach of using keywords. UX design is an important element of the process since Google is very concerned about the experience of its users.
The right combination of UX design and SEO will lead you to great results in the rankings. You just have to work hard enough for them.
About the author: this is the guest post by Warren Fowler, whose lifestyle is full of hiking adventures as well as blogging and leaps through social media. You can meet him on Twitter and Facebook.
Title image: Ana Beverin – Five Design
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