Increasingly, search engines are focusing on user experience when ranking sites.
Google, Yahoo and even LinkedIn have all updated their algorithms to judge sites more on content and user satisfaction, instead of solely looking at keywords.
Of course, traditional SEO tactics like keywords, images, metadata and tags still - and will probably always - play a strong, supporting role in ensuring a website ranks well, but it’s looking increasingly likely that we’ll see a thorough integration of both UX and SEO when it comes to the criteria search bots scan your site for.
UX has always had an unofficial relationship with SEO.
Good UX means you’re able to pique people’s interest, address their needs and provide a user-friendly interface through which you can maximize conversions.
For example, your website can be perfectly optimised for SEO, but if it’s badly designed and difficult to use, all the effort in the world won’t save it.
That’s why the most successful SEO strategies centre on a site that’s engaging to users in the front end - not just to search engine bots in the back end. But now, even the search engine’s bots are beginning to cast their gaze to the site’s usable front-end; judging the site’s value by its appeal and usability as well as the foundational SEO.
At the forefront of this ranking revolution has been Google, whose regular algorithm updates (with cute names like Penguin, Hummingbird, Panda and, yes... even Pigeon) have been reshaping the SEO landscape.
Thanks to these, and other, developments, UX is becoming the future of SEO. And, unlike the SEO of yore, UX is about so much more than lines of code.
Good UX means you’re able to pique people’s interest, address their needs and provide a user-friendly interface through which you can maximize conversions. A well-designed webpage will improve ease of navigation around your site and its responsiveness, leading to a lower bounce rate and higher levels of satisfaction. All these things contribute hugely to the effectiveness of your site and, more and more, it’s search engine ranking.
But where to start?
There are lots of things to consider when combining SEO and UX/UI into your site design. Here are just a few:
1. Your site should be easy to navigate and a clear site hierarchy
The highest ranking websites of tomorrow will anticipate its user’s needs and provide a seamless journey that’s not just easy, but also a pleasure to interact with.
2. Page actions should all have clear CTAs, correct colour usage, with one primary button per section. The user doesn’t want to be bombarded with things to do. It’s visually unattractive and leads to confusion!
3. Your site should be visually appealing with clear themes, graphics, or simply by having a comfortable text to white space balance.
4. Site users should always know exactly what a page is about as soon as they land on it. Never bet on your users reading the entire page – people save time by scanning pages, only reading certain parts.
5. Don’t forget mobile optimisation! Google has moved towards rewarding user-friendly sites, so don’t neglect the opportunity to make your site just as appealing across other devices.
6. A good load speed. We live in a digital world where people expect things fast. If your pages are slow to load, you’re guaranteed to end up lower in the rankings.
The future of SEO will rest in a site’s ability to engage the user and facilitate their unique journey. Google can measure UX in the same way that a webmaster can, and is going to use that information to improve their own UX by categorising websites more effectively based on more than just keywords and tags.
For this reason, the highest ranking websites of tomorrow will anticipate its user’s needs and provide a seamless journey that’s not just easy, but also a pleasure to interact with.
Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash