All digital marketers know that you can’t get away with just concentrating on SEO or just focusing on user experience (UX) and expect results in the online world. They are entwined, even though they share the same purpose of increasing conversions to ensure a business’s success, they have different methods in which to achieve it.
It is common for them to clash. So we take a look at how to compromise and make both sides work in harmony as best we can.
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The importance of UX
User experience is all about the visitor on the site.
All decisions and optimisations are made with the user in mind on any platform, and you consider how it feels to be on your website. UX is about ensuring relevance, easy navigation and engaging content with an increase in conversion rates being your ultimate goal. If your site is aesthetically pleasing, easy to navigate and has attractive imagery and fonts, you are on the right path.
As a marketing tool, its benefits are clear:
People need to find what they want as quickly as they can. Responsive, fast-loading simplified websites with useful mobile apps set you apart from your competition when people are shopping around for products.
UX and SEO Differences
The industry norm is User Experience designers concentrate fully on the user while the SEO pro’s work hard of trying to please both the user and the search engines using the latest algorithms to increase traffic to the site. They share the same goal, and that is to convert traffic into business; however, the way to achieve these are viewed differently by the respective sides.
A prime example is a difference between the user already being on the homepage, or the search-bot looking to attract users to the website.
The difference thought process between the two sides is the content and the structure of the site, and as we know a search engine is not human. So to the UX team content for search engines are not at the top of their list of considerations.
The SEO and UX Compromise
What the industry would like is for Google to be less reliant on algorithms and robotic systems and introduce more human thought processes into their search engine system, but we have some way to go in that department. So we still need to find a compromise and work with both UX and SEO for a website to maintain rankings and convert business simultaneously.
SEO professionals are diligently seeking ways outside of just search engines to compromise between the two elements. Search engines are not currently flexible in the way they analyse user behavioural patterns. If after visiting a site a user bounces back, there is no way you can know for sure why, but as far as the search engine is concerned; it did, and this is a black mark against your rankings.
Searching for answers when considering UX principles is paramount to creating a better user experience.
Ultimately, your potential clients need to find you easily, and once they have, they need smooth navigation and relevant information.
Best Practices for SEO and UX
It is far from impossible to have SEO and UX working effectively together. If the design and SEO team consider what common factors they have and follow both their best practices they can work in harmony.
Informative, concise content, with the correct balance of keywords that are easy to read, is beneficial to both sides. This can be likened to when the site is properly structured; it’s intuitive to the user and the search engine.
Examples SEO and UX practices:
The links in the search results that provide the user with relevant information regarding the ethos of the site. For ranking purposes, it is essential to anchor the keywords into the limited space.
Aside from the content itself title tags play a role in optimising the site in the search engines. They provide crucial information about the HTML and XHTML file within the search engine. Information that is not visible to the user through the landing page.
Images v Content
This will go on forever like cats and dogs. Content has to be relevant to the audience. Google is very much on top of loaded keyword content, and shady SEO practices of the past and that kind of approach now will cost a company dearly with penalties. But it’s isn’t just the content that has to be quality and relevant, it’s is also the structure of the site that has a defining effect.
As things evolve, it has become apparent that the relationship has changed between imagery and content. While we can optimise content with the use of keywords and tags for visual flow and emotional connection with the user they don’t have much of an effect on the usability aspect of a site.
Imagery (especially if extremely high-quality) can slow a site down and affect its load-up speed, something that is currently being heavily punished by Google in some of their latest updates.
So it’s the balance between now compromising the imagery by using things like icons and vector art but maintaining top-quality content and convincing the other side that the imagery is not so important. This can be a difficult task. So, in this case, the SEO team has to have the UX team under control. However, the message from Google is clear if it loads fast it ranks high.
Categories on the Menu
Both SEO and UX can equally benefit from a clear and concise menu with distinct categories. Prompt your user to navigate around the site with drop-downs and other pointers swiftly. Also ensure the menu follows the user as they scroll down the page, so navigational tools are with them at all times. Ease-of-use is the key to guiding them where you want them to go to either purchase your product or your guide them to your sponsor.
In this case, the UX team need to control the SEO team as too much content is information overload, and too many categories will prompt an early exit from the site, it creates indecision. Clear paths of movement, informative but to the point content and clear visibility with efficacy are your main priorities, with easily understandable tab titles.
There is common ground between SEO and UX. For the business, it will depend on the team(s) involved. Experts from both sides believe their model is more important than the other, and both will have valid points to make in their defence. However it is all about compromise, if you can find the right balance between the UX team and the SEO team and get them working together with consideration for each other’s qualities and potential problems they bring, then you have the winning formula. Remember the only two who need to like everything is Google and the user.