Over the years, the evolution of SEO best practices has gone from writing for the search engines to writing and designing content that enables a better user experience (while still considering the search engine).
Back in the early days of SEO, copywriters and web designers stuffed keywords into the content; as a result, that site ranked well in the SERP. While that is a sneaky move, it doesn’t do anything to improve the user experience. Stuffing keywords into content for the sake of “rank” will only deter people from your site. People go elsewhere if the words don’t make sense and the site is hard to navigate.
Today, SEO is not that simple. Now, we are writing and designing for the user while ranking well in search engines.
SEO targets the search engines, and UX (user experience) provides a better online experience for the visitor. At GROW Marketing Agency, we always consider the user's experience first because we know usability and design are crucial SEO elements. In this blog, we want to share effective ways to combine SEO and UX design principles.
Understanding UX Design Principles
A user experience refers to how site visitors interact with content, from clicking internal links and HTML buttons to navigating the site’s chatbots, screen readers, and site structure.
If you’ve ever opened up a website on your phone or computer and immediately left because the buttons didn’t work or the site's features were hard to navigate–poor UX design is to blame; a common problem many users experience on the internet.
If you’re new to UX, here are a few UX design principles to keep in mind when building and designing your site:
Consistency Is King; this means ensuring that every page on the site follows brand guidelines, has the same theme, and that all user journeys feel the same with similar mechanisms–page to page.
Function Over Beauty; if you have a beautiful site, but the site lacks function, people will click away. Build a beautiful, pleasing site with functionality. We may know some people to help. Test every page on your site to ensure those beautiful elements work.
Accessibility Features; keep those with disabilities in mind when designing your website. Think about how those with disabilities will interact with your site.
Keep It Simple; keep your pages simple; every page should be easy to navigate and read, and your content delivery mechanism should be simple.
Now that we have the UX basics under our belt, here are some common website elements that greatly impact your SEO and UX.
Web Page Headers
Headers, also known as H-Tags, HTML tags make it easier for visitors to browse your site and for search engine spiders to crawl your website. When you deploy the use of headings (<h1>, <h2>, <h3>, <h4>, <h5> and <h6>), it creates hierarchical structure to the page, which helps the user follow the information on the site.
Implement H-tags in order, following H1. The H1 tags let the user and search engines know that page’s primary focus; always include keywords in the H tags. The H1 tag is used once per page!
Headings H2-H6 should follow the H1 tag to organize the page structure. The proceeding H tags should be used in order and can be applied multiple times–if it makes sense for the webpage you’re writing. The H2-H4 tags are most frequently used, and not every webpage will need all six H tags. Most of the time, you’ll be using H1-H3s to structure web content.
Website Structure Is A Roadmap For Search Engines
It’s important to reiterate just how important your website’s structure is to the user and search engines. Your site’s menu must be visible on every page for mobile and desktop. Without a menu and navigation on each page, it creates a dead end for the user.
Another thing to note is that not everyone who enters your site enters from the home page. Popular pages that users enter from are the contact page and service pages. That’s why it’s crucial that each page is SEO optimized and has links that’ll take the user back to the home page or another important page on the site. When writing web page content, remember that each page should introduce the brand. Don’t use abbreviation versions of your business's name. It should be the full name. For example, GROW Marketing Agency, not just GROW.
Your website loading speed is another important factor in ranking on search engines, as it plays a vital role in SEO performance.
As a user, it’s frustrating to open a webpage and not have the information or images load.
Every second counts when it comes to page speed. Google’s research shows that the bounce rate will increase when loading times increase. To check your website’s speed, check out Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool.
Don’t fret. If your site has a slow loading speed, there are a couple of simple ways to increase speed time:
Less content: Content-heavy web pages are not easy on the eyes, increase bounce rates, and slow down page speed.
Compress Images: Large images are slow to load. For the sake of SEO and load speed, a recommended file size for an image is 70kb. If you have big images over 300kb, reduce their file size to 100kb, or select another image. There are tons of free tools online to compress images.
Mobile Experience Matters, Too!
Site speed applies to your mobile site as well! Did you know that users spend 70% of their internet time on mobile devices? With more and more people using mobile, it’s crucial that your site is SEO optimized and offers a great user experience. Large images and heavy content hinder a mobile user's experience on your site.
To check whether your site is mobile-friendly or not, check out Google’s free tool, Mobile-Friendly Test.
When designing your mobile site, add an easy-to-find, clear navigation menu and search option. Make sure any button on the mobile site is big enough for fingertips to click. Mobile UX is so important to your success online; people don’t want to search through a crowded mobile site to find the information they need; the design and content should be airy and lite. Another important UX design element is the forms. Mobile users do not want to fill in a multi-page form–it’s tedious and can increase bounce rate. Give them a simple form and automate actions when possible.
Combining SEO & UX Wins Every Time
Word of mouth is not enough in 2022. When you design websites and write content without SEO and UX in mind, the chances of your business being seen online are slim.
If your business needs help implementing SEO and UX design, GROW Marketing Agency has a stellar team of strategists, web designers, and copywriters who will position your brand in front of your audience. Contact GROW today to get your website ranking in the SERP.
About the Author:
Katheryn Hunt is a sales-‘growing’ enthusiast. As the CEO of GROW, she partners with small to medium businesses in the United States to develop and deploy sales and marketing strategies that generate revenue. Katheryn has a diverse business-building background; and has surrounded herself with an elite marketing team who specialize in “Growing” business start-ups, healthcare and long-term care companies, capital equipment manufacturers, retailers, and service-based industries; through value-based selling and compelling marketing stories.
GROW Marketing Agency is a St. Louis-based Sales and Marketing Agency specializing in Website, Digital Marketing, & Business growth solutions. We help companies increase their revenue by creating the pathways that lead customers to the heart of their business. Individually tailored and guaranteed to deliver results, our growth strategies save clients time and money while increasing their market share.