When it comes to building a website, there are multiple factors to consider for achieving optimal effectiveness. Site owners will want content that speaks to the needs and interests of the intended audience. However, they will also want a website designed with the visitor in mind, making it easy for site visitors to find that information.
That’s where search engine optimization (SEO) and user experience (UX) considerations come into play. SEO and UX are two disciplines site owners will want to keep in mind when building a website and its content. While they differ in what they are, both can work together to maximize an audience’s engagement with a site.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is how site owners draw organic attention on the internet. It’s the practice of using targeted keywords throughout a site’s content so that people using internet search engines will find the site.
It’s about more than simply stuffing keywords into written content, however – in fact, this is typically detrimental to overall SEO performance. SEO involves performing the initial keyword research, developing content that highlights these keywords in a smart, logical manner, and performing an analysis of competitors to see what type of content they’re developing to rank highly.
Good SEO does not mean seeing how many times written content can include a keyword. Successful SEO has to do with answering the searcher’s question. If a site can do that successfully, with quality content, Google will reward the site with higher search engine placement.
While creating content that adheres to SEO best practices is a wise move, it is not the only consideration site owners should take into account when building a website and the content populating it. Business and site owners will also want to keep the end user in mind when developing content.
What is UX?
UX, shorthand for user experience, is a design discipline that involves thinking of what the customer or user needs when designing a product, service, or in this case, website. It’s about adopting a user-first mentality when creating content, answering the question, “How will the content keep the user at the forefront while developing this site?”
Good UX can vary depending on the type of website being offered, but some general principles remain no matter what. The first component of UX is to meet the user’s needs. Site owners also want to stress a simple design approach that is less likely to confuse the user.
The user’s journey through the site should flow effortlessly, without needless features and information clouding their view. Website copy should be clear and concise, without added verbiage. The overall site design should make logical sense to the user.
When done right, UX represents the confluence of the following disciplines:
Some often confuse UX with UI, or user interface. UI is another important component of site design, but it’s not quite the same thing. UI represents how the user can interact with the website, while the aspects of UX are much more comprehensive in scope, totaling the user’s entire experience viewing and engaging with the site and the information included within.
That is the primary aim of SEO and UX. While both involve optimizing a site for the right audience, they’re not precisely the same thing. In fact, they can complement each other in many ways.
Why UX and SEO matter to Google
Google ranks a site’s SEO for a variety of factors. As stated above, they do much more than simply count the number of times a site has included the right keyword on a page. The search engine has over 200 SEO factors for which it ranks a website.
These factors involve the domain, the landing page, user interaction, and many others. Optimizing a site for search engines isn’t necessarily easy, but it can be straightforward.
Regarding user experience, Google favors sites that optimize for UX over ones that do not. The search engine ranks a number of UX factors to determine which sites will be favored in ranking.
The following UX factors are considered when it comes to how user-friendly a site may or may not be:
The easier a site is for users perusing it, it’s likely the better it will rank on Google searches. Sites and content created without UX as a guideline will appear more confusing and therefore harder for Google to single out as a good place for searchers to visit.
How UX and SEO affect each other
Ultimately, site owners don’t need to decide on whether to focus solely on SEO or UX considerations when creating website content. The truth is that websites will want to have both, and they can coalesce quite nicely together.
Google’s goal is to connect its users with the answers they seek as quickly as possible. Yes, they’re looking for SEO factors, but sites built with solid UX principles will also deliver answers to users quicker than ones that do not.
Take a website’s blog content, for example. This will be infused with the right keywords (SEO), placed in locations that make contextual sense and best answer the reader’s questions. Those keywords can also be included in headers and subheaders to help define the page’s information architecture, which is a UX feature. Site owners want the user to be able to easily find the information they’re looking for (UX) and that when they do, it appropriately answers their question (SEO).
Both SEO and UX have a well-defined set of best practices that can be implemented to ensure each is accounted for. These best practices don’t conflict with each other and often overlap.
Website content should be relevant, topical, and address the key themes and keywords the audience is searching for. It should also flow organically, with the user having an easy way to guide themselves through it.
SEO and UX considerations don’t represent competing priorities – far from it. It’s better to view them as two complementary tools site owners can use to help bring more interested audience members to your site.