Blending SEO and UX Design to Create a Strategic Future

June 5, 2022

In an ecommerce driven landscape, improving your organic search metrics is vital. To compete with the industry giants and social-media platforms who are ruling the roost in 2022, maintaining a high, authoritative search position within your niche is key to success.

As search-engine optimization (SEO) practice continues to change—along with the more than 200 potential ranking factors that Web sites must now take into account—it’s no surprise that smart marketers are diverging from traditional strategies and combining their team efforts to perfect their optimization.

One example of this is the partnership potential that exists between SEO and UX design. As marketers continue to prioritize the user experience as an SEO tactic, experts suggest that ranking scores could soar in response. The question is: just how powerful could this SEO/UX partnership be? How can new marketers utilize user experience in designing a strategic future? Let’s find out.

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Why Is User Experience So Important?

User experience has been an essential component of any successful marketing campaign since marketing began. The age-old phrase “the customer is always right” should be a driving factor of your strategy.

Prioritizing a campaign’s user experience can boost site interactions and engagement. Plus, simply striving to meet your target demographic’s needs can be the key to consistent conversions and outstanding customer-retention rates—two factors that can improve brand awareness and authority within a densely populated ecommerce world.

In fact, as shown in Figure 1, a recent study (PDF) by Forrester revealed that companies who prioritized their user experience as part of their campaign strategy saw a 15% decrease in brand switching and a 16% increase in a customer’s likelihood to share positive feedback about the brand with their peers.

Figure 1—The value of the user experience
The value of the user experience

Image source: Berkeley Bootcamp

Focusing on a customer’s experience with your brand can be transformative for your ecommerce success. By doing everything from prioritizing UX design to streamlining the customer journey to enhancing your conversational marketing skills to remedying customer painpoints to listening to your audience, you’ll see your positive customer engagements soar above those of your competitors.

The question is: just how effective can prioritizing your users be in improving your SEO score? While keyword optimization and strategic content creation still remain important for SEO success, other UX-oriented factors such as improving Web-site navigation and faster page-loading speeds can also significantly contribute to a brand’s organic rankings.

Let’s take a closer look at how your UX design could potentially boost your SEO and enhance your ranking scores.

Can UX Design Boost Your SEO?

Google’s search-ranking algorithm still puzzles many of today’s smart marketers. While effective keyword implementation was once the pathway to victory, today’s algorithm takes many more factors into account.

Google has one consistent goal: to offer its users the best possible experience when using Google Search and its browser, Chrome. In fact, the user experience is so important to Google that its search algorithm now incorporates a number of usability metrics that aim to determine the probability of browsers enjoying their experience on a site. Figure 2 shows some of the factors that impact the browsing experience.

Figure 2—Factors that improve the user experience
Factors that improve the user experience

Image source: Springboard

This is where UX design comes into play. Google evaluates components such as page-loading speeds, design, and page structure in determining the potential ranking of a site—all factors that are associated with an effective UX design strategy.

In fact, a 2016 metrics study from Google found that 53% of the browser’s users bounce if a page takes longer than three seconds to load—in turn, impacting the page’s ranking score.

Since both UX design experts and Google’s algorithm are looking at the same factors in seeking a positive user experience, it’s no surprise that smart marketers have begun to prioritize UX design in an attempt to boost their SEO.

The key takeaway here is that Google is happy when its users are happy. Simply ignoring your customer experience when creating your SEO tactics is just not an option. Keyword placement is irrelevant if your users are bouncing off your page in a matter of seconds.

Benefits of Blending SEO and UX Design

There are several benefits to combining your SEO and UX design efforts. Your organic ranking may rise, but this strategic partnership also improves your awareness of search intent, and site engagement will soar.

Let’s consider just a few of the benefits you could see when blending your SEO and UX tactics.

Improved Site Accessibility

By prioritizing your site navigation and interactivity, you’ll open up your pages to users of all abilities. As your site gains more engagement, your SEO rankings will improve in response. Taking the time to enhance the experience of your users and streamline their site journey is also an easy way to increase conversion opportunities and speed up the sales funnel, creating a quick path to success for both your customers and Google’s search-engine crawlers.

An Enhanced Mobile Experience

Did you know that 54% of Google’s traffic comes from mobile users alone? In a world that is dominated by smartphone technology, appealing to mobile users has been one of the key concerns for both SEO and UX design professionals in ensuring user engagement.

By utilizing UX design tactics such as optimizing your site’s layout and structure, you can address the needs of a high number of smartphone-based customers. This is an easy way to satisfy Google’s algorithm. Creating a responsive design that improves mobile accessibility, page-loading speeds, and thumb responsiveness partners well with your SEO strategy and contributes to your ranking score.

How to Design a Strategic Future

If you’re looking to improve your UX design skills for SEO success, look no further. Here are three easy steps you can take toward designing a strategic future.

Consult Your Metrics

The key to providing an excellent user experience is knowing your customers inside and out. Google’s algorithm takes usability very seriously and so should you. Performing an audit of your site’s current painpoints using an analytics tool such as Google Analytics or Finteza is an easy way to start.

It’s important to see which pages are receiving the most user engagement, and what areas of your site design and accessibility need improvement to achieve SEO success. Usability testing is also a great way of streamlining your SEO keyword tactics. For example, the pages with the most engagement could be prime spots for your high-ranking keywords, while the content on low-performing pages might be due for a revamp.

Improve Your Web-Site Navigation

Your navigation system is one of the most crucial parts of your Web site’s UX design. If your customers can’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll bounce straight to a competitor’s site that offers improved accessibility.

Google also prioritizes your site’s navigation potential. For your site to remain high up in the Web hierarchy, you need to make your site easy to crawl and optimize your content and UX design for streamlined access.

For navigation success, start linking your flows from your top pages to the very bottom, while increasing the number of links to the pages that have the highest conversion potential. Optimizing your navigation bar is also a good idea to ensure that Google’s crawlers can easily pick up and index its links. The key here is to keep your navigation bar simple and streamline its design. While drop-down menus might be effective for users browsing larger sites, they make it tough for search engines to index your site effectively.

Optimize Your Visuals

It’s no secret that a visually appealing site is a successful site. However, you must avoid overwhelming a site’s UX design with visual elements if you want to enhance your page-loading speeds and avoid confusing Google’s crawlers.

When incorporating visual elements into your design, it’s important that you utilize user-friendly templates both for video content creation and images because these elements must be small enough not to affect page-loading speeds, while also being easily accessible to users with different abilities.

The key here is including alt text for all of these visual elements. As both an SEO and a UX design tactic, ensuring that your images have alternative-text attributes makes these visuals easy for Google to index, while also increasing their accessibility to visually impaired users, who might not otherwise be able to access the visual content on your site at all.

Including a descriptive alt-text caption of no more than 125 words provides search-engine crawlers with enough information to fully understand a visual element’s content, boosting your SEO score as a consequence. 

Marketing Executive at Solvid Digital

London, UK

Rebecca Barnatt-SmithRebecca is an experienced marketing executive with a passion for UX design, data-driven outcomes, and digital creativity. She has worked on all aspects of marketing, from UX design and creative copywriting to search-engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. She is interested in all things digital and can’t wait to see how the future of technology shapes the corporate world.  Read More

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