UX And SEO: How Canadian Companies Can Simultaneously Improve Both – 10 Experts Chime In
by Sarah Bauder
UX and SEO complement each other in a number of ways. In fact, user experience and SEO coexist hand in hand to fulfill users’ needs. In this article, 10 marketing experts chime in on how Canadian companies can simultaneously improve both UX and SEO.
SEO Best Practices And The Updates That Search Engines Are Putting Out Emphasize The User Experience
“SEO and UX shouldn’t be considered separately, they are intrinsically linked. Major SEO efforts, like improving page speed, providing helpful content, and enabling users to easily navigate around a website are centered on creating a seamless experience for the user.
Companies can improve both SEO and UX by approaching them from the user’s perspective. Asking questions like, “What is the user’s intent? What are they looking for? What do they need” will help to define the SEO strategy? This is also a good launching point for crafting content (website copy, blogs, visuals, videos, infographics, guides, etc.) that can be optimized to speak to those needs.
Users want to visit websites that load quickly, have relevant information, answer questions, and enable them to easily discover more about the products and services that the company offers. Creating digital experiences that are intuitive and easy to navigate is fundamental to great UX.
Unfortunately, companies often prioritize either SEO or UX when they should both be a priority. SEO gets the user to your website or platform and a great UX gets them what they need once they are there. SEO without UX discredits the company and crushes conversion rates. UX without any SEO won’t attract any users to the website.
SEO best practices and the updates that search engines are putting out emphasize the user experience. Understanding the connection between UX and SEO enables companies to provide meaningful and positive experiences for prospects and clients.”
Rachel Cunningham, Content Marketing Director, Bop Design
Optimizing Pages For Users And Optimizing For Search Engines Go Hand-In-Hand
“In today’s digital landscape, optimizing pages for users and optimizing for search engines go hand-in-hand – trying to improve SEO without taking UX into account will get you nowhere. Google’s priorities for determining rankings have shifted from only looking at backlinks and keywords to paying closer attention to the quality of content, and how users interact with that content.
To see improvements in the metrics that really matter (traffic and engagement over rankings), you’ll first need to look at whether your content and pages satisfy the intent of a user’s search. That’s what Google is increasingly paying attention to – the signals that search intent is met by the content of your site or page, which are closely tied to user experience. Using tools like heatmaps or recordings of users navigating your site can be immensely helpful with gaining insight into UX, which ties back into SEO.
When creating new content, think of yourself as the user searching the target keywords, and ask yourself if the content would answer your questions. Does it need to be more thorough, or does it need to be more to-the-point? Is the formatting easy to read? Do you provide links to relevant, related content to help answer further questions the reader may have? Overall, is your content worth their time?
Looking at your content and website from the user’s perspective is the core of UX, and now, it’s the core of SEO, too.”
Krista Brubaker, SEO Strategist, BizLibrary
The Reality Is That SEO And UX Must Coexist
“The reality is that SEO and UX must coexist and companies that have a web presence must continuously work to improve both.
UX informs all the things that you must do to keep your users and site visitors engaged with your website and your web content.
While there are many factors that go into your overall SEO performance, the amount of engagement that your pages and sites have is an important factor.
If you have a high bounce rate, which can sometimes be brought about by bad UX issues, your SEO performance will suffer over time.
For businesses to really make search gains, they must ensure that they provide a solid User experience for their visitors, making sure that the content that visitors hope to find is easily accessible and that the site is easy to engage with and navigate and visually pleasing. Tying that in with great Search optimization tactics will drive the overall success of your website.”
Bryan Osima, CEO, Uvietech Software Solutions Inc
UX and SEO Are Actually Very Much Aligned
“UX and SEO are actually very much aligned. Google is continuously trying to serve the best content to users, and determines a lot of whether or not content is correct for a given query based on whether a user hits the back button to return to Google and find a better result.
For example, I live in California and search Venice vacations in Google, click the first result, and perhaps hit the back button because I wanted Venice Beach, CA, not Venice, Italy. Now Google knows to serve Venice Beach, CA results for this query for users in California.
People will hit the back button due to low quality or incorrect information. However, they are even more likely to hit the back button due to a poor UX that is confusing or fails to communicate trust. If this is the case, then the page will be penalized in the search results.”
Phil Strazzulla, Founder, SSR
These Initiatives Should Work In Harmony
“If a business owner thinks of SEO and UX as conflicting, they don’t truly understand either. These initiatives should work in harmony. If a page is well-optimized for UX, it will help rankings because page features which improve UX tend to improve SEO. Technical features like fast load time and a valid SSL certificate are good for UX and are both SEO ranking factors. It’s also well known that Google’s RankBrain algorithm analyzes UX signals like click-through rate and bounce rate to impact rankings. Business owners should focus primarily on improving the user experience of their website, and SEO rankings improvements will come naturally because Google’s prerogative is directing users to sites which are well-organized and fulfill their search intent.”
Calloway Cook, Founder, Illuminate Labs
So Much Focus On Usability From A Search Engine Standpoint
“Without UX, SEO can’t exist. There is so much focus on usability from a search engine standpoint. For instance, site speed is a priority ranking in search – your site needs to be fast. Also, mobile-friendliness – your website needs to be responsive and be able to load across multiple devices, especially since Google and other major search engines are now looking at your mobile experience for rankings before even touching your desktop website. Your site structure and navigation also need to be easy to understand and crawl. If search engines can’t understand the layout of your website, then they simply won’t rank it. They need to be able to find pages quickly and easily in order to rank it. Focus on items like these from a UX standpoint, and you’ll lay the foundation for a great SEO strategy, both for users and search engines.”
Patrick Delehanty, Marketing Manager, Marcel Digital
Both Have The Same Goal
“SEO and UX both have the same goal: making users (or groups of users) like you. Designing a beautiful, functional, and well-used website begins with making designers and developers think of the user first. Trying to implement a UX strategy with your development team and an SEO strategy with your marketing team is where just about everyone goes wrong. From the outset, defining the user and their needs and then simply keeping that user in mind will allow for clarity in design, and allow for developers and designers to implement both UX and SEO best practices throughout the project. UX and SEO are not competitive, but they sure are silo’d – and once you’ve designed entirely for one, it’s impossible (IMHO)
to simply add in missing elements. There are a few cases where UX has taken the lion’s share of projects we have build, however, in those cases, websites were not meant for promotional use, but rather were functional. Work boots, even if they’re pink, are never dainty – and that’s ok; it’s what we expect of our work boots.
A great website is like a beautiful pair of comfy heels – they look good, feel good, and don’t cause pain no matter how many hours you’re in them. Are the heels a touch lower for wearability (UX)? Of course! Are the Swarovski crystals (SEO) necessary to help me walk? Nope! But in combination, they make a splash, get people talking, and don’t tick anyone off who’s already bought in.”
Heather McDonald, Founder/Empress, HALA Digital Marketing
Two Important Things To Remember
“A lot of clients are afraid that SEO work on their website means that it’s going to look like the rest of generic SEO websites, but that’s because most companies don’t put UI and UX first, but try to stuff as much SEO as possible.
It is possible to make SEO-friendly websites while keeping design and user experience at a really high level. The thing is people usually forget about two major things:
1) Only half of SEO is done on-site. Arguably, the most important part is done outside of your website – backlink building, social media signals etc. You can make the most SEO-friendly website in the world and still not rank against competitors -you need to get outside signals!
2) There are a lot of web design tricks to make SEO work look good. For example, SEO specialists like to make h1 tags like Best affordable bicycle rental Toronto for the Bike rental page on the website and while it makes sense for SEO – it does look bad with most templates. If you’re building a website from scratch you can use Bike rental “span tag” on the top of the page with and then add an “h1 tag” Best affordable bicycle rental Toronto below. Then style them: make the span look like an h1 and h1 to be less catchy.
And this is just one simple example, there are literally hundreds of these
neat little tricks to let Google and other search engines to understand
what your pages are about and keep the user experience and website design
on a high level.”
Andriy Koval, SEO Specialist, Founder, Vertix Media
Think About UX First And Then SEO To Create A Perfect Blend
“It is a bit tricky to create a perfect blend of SEO and UX but certainly not impossible. The key to tackling this dilemma is to think about UX first and then SEO, the reason behind this thought process is that search engines are weighing UX more and that is the way it is currently trending which makes a lot of sense logically.
After a webmaster has implemented a great UX then SEO should be the focus soon after. One example is to improve site speed, by creating a great UX it usually hampers site speed because of integrating software, plugins, modules and content which impacts load time for desktop and mobile. The answer to can SEO and UX coexist is yes but with great caution. At times a sacrifice may have to be made if UX is impacting load time and all of the speed optimization tactics have been used with load time still being an issue then the webmaster will have to weigh both options and see what makes sense for the website and the users, this will also depend on the type of industry. Search engines are using AI and the old days of SEO are fading
away and the era of UX is starting to take over.”
Chronis Tsempelis, Founder, CEO & SEO Consultant, SEOExplode Inc
Look Into The User Experience To Improve Your Sales And Your Traffic Through Organic Search
“You should look into the user experience to improve your sales and your traffic through organic search. It’s important that the user has a good experience at the website.
If they don’t understand what the page is about, they will leave. If they don’t know how to buy – they leave. If it’s not working out on a smartphone – they leave as well.
So you need to look at the user behavior through Hotjar recordings or IRL user testing. This can be very beneficial. I have a great experience with partnering with an agency about this part. It made our lives easier because, we did the improvements they came up with, and we got much more traffic.
Fewer people are leaving our site, going back to the SERP, and more people are staying to read the full article or buying the products. This goes well with Googles RankBrain.
On the other hand, we have experienced a much better-looking product page, performing worse. This was mainly because we were hiding some content, to prioritize the most important parts for UX reasons. But it did not go well with Google’s algorithms when valuing text in accordions etc. lower.
So rule number one: Only do things that help the user. But keep in mind that Google/crawlers always should be able to see and detect important content elements like texts.”
Jonathan Bräuner Delfs, Lead SEO Manager, Trendhim.com
UX is focused on a user’s emotional experience, while SEO is about the intent of the searcher. Both are imperative for companies to grow their digital presence.
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