SEO and UX. Name a more iconic duo… I’ll wait.
In the world of online marketing, it’s important that these two work together to offer a great experience – for users, and for search engines. Make it your priority to get it right and you’ll be looking at a match made in website optimisation heaven.
Technically speaking, while they’re serving slightly different end goals – SEO for search engines, and UX for users – their main purpose is really one and the same, as algorithms get smarter about understanding user behaviour online.
So, what website optimisation factors should you consider to boost both your SEO and UX efforts?
1. KEYWORDS AND USER INTENT
First things first; you’ve got to give the users what they want – or they’ll go elsewhere (as will Google). When you’re working on keyword research, think beyond search volume and consider what the phrases mean. Are they looking for information? Or do they want to make a purchase?
This can be tricky to define for shorttail terms, and some queries might have multiple meanings. There’s no exact science but some SERP analysis should help you understand how Google classifies these queries. As will building out your keyword set to include more longtail phrases.
Covering relevant keywords in the copy is important from an SEO point of view and it can help improve UX too, provided your content aligns with the intent behind the keyword search terms.
That said, it’s even more important that the copy sounds natural and reads well – so always think about how keywords can be incorporated seamlessly in headings and copy, and avoid “keyword stuffing”.
2. PAGE SPEED
Yep, it’s not just Google that hates slow websites. If your site takes too long to load, your users won’t like it either. They’re an impatient bunch. A Google study found if users have to wait just 3 seconds for page to load, the chance of bounce increases by 32%. As you can imagine, this increases the longer users wait – even a 5 second wait can result in a 90% chance of bounce.
So, check your load times with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. And if you’re not in the green zone, it’s time to work with your dev team (or us!) on speeding things up.
3. MOBILE RESPONSIVENESS
In March 2020 Google announced they’d be switching to mobile-first indexing for the whole web. If you’re still lagging behind in the mobile site stakes, prepare to be left behind by Google – and potential customers – too.
Making your site mobile responsive means it’ll be much more aesthetically pleasing and easier to navigate for users browsing from handheld devices, so they’ll be more inclined to browse for longer.
You can test your site’s mobile responsiveness with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. With almost 55% of web traffic now coming from mobile devices, it’s important to make sure your site’s got what it takes to please mobile users.
Nobody likes to get lost – not even search engine bots. Make it easy for both Google and users to navigate your website with a simple site structure.
Your navigation menu should signpost your products or services with user-friendly, keyword-rich headings. But keep it simple. Limiting your categories should help you make it more concise. You want your users to be able to find what they need – either at first glance, or with just a couple of clicks.
Considering your keywords, what your ranking competitors are doing, and the hierarchy of your products or services should help you create a logical website structure.
5. META TAGS
We’re talking title tags and meta descriptions – what users see in the SERPs. Getting these right can make all the difference to where you rank, and whether users will even click through to your site.
Keep your title tag character count within the limited space (~60 characters), ensure it includes the primary keyword for the page, and your brand name. Every page on your website should have a title tag that is unique and relevant to the specific content on the page in question.
While title tags are an on-page ranking factor for SEO, meta descriptions aren’t. From this perspective, they’re arguably more of a UX factor. Their power lies in their ability to entice users to click through – so keep the page summary concise (~160 characters), include relevant keywords, and don’t forget that all important call-to-action.
Test out various page titles and meta descriptions for your page with a SERP snippet optimisation tool. And remember to make sure the copy sounds natural – don’t “keyword stuff”.
6. PAGE STRUCTURE
Lastly, when users – or search engine bots – land on a page on your website, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to understand what it’s about.
So, structure your page in a way that aids this. Make it easy to read (or scan) with user-friendly and keyword-rich headings. Break copy up into smaller paragraphs and utilise bullet or number lists where relevant – these can also help you rank for those coveted featured snippet positions.
Don’t be shy about using CTAs throughout the page, and include a few internal links to other relevant pages, hyperlinking from appropriate wording, to help guide your user’s journey.