A website with excellent user experience (UX) is one site visitors want to frequent often. Your bounce rates will go down and conversions will go up. However, if you aren’t attracting the right audience, all your effort is for nothing. Combine UX design and SEO to create the perfect duo of usefulness and function.
According to the UX Collective's "The State of UX in 2022" report, entry-level designers are reshaping the UX industry. They found 293,000 designers came out of Google's UXD certificate. That's just one certification option. They estimate a 289% increase in interest in UX roles as a career.
With so many more people entering the field, figuring out ways to combine UX design and SEO matters more than ever before.
Why User Experience Is Vital for Quality SEO
Some of Google’s page ranking factors are automated, but they also employ checkers who rank sites based on the content and usability of the pages. If you try to rank for a keyword unrelated to the content on the page, for example, both the automated algorithms and the rankers are going to penalise your site.
When you combine UX design and SEO, you give your audience the best of both worlds. They can find your page more easily because you’ll rank better, and they’ll appreciate the content and ease of use when they land on your site.
How can you combine UX design and SEO for a better user experience? Here are our favourite tips.
1. Create a Strong Hierarchy
Good UX design increases conversion rates by 400% or more. The layout of your website must be intuitive. When users land on your home page or any page, they should be able to easily figure out the structure and move to the information they need.
A strong hierarchy includes a navigational structure that makes sense to most users. In addition, links must be easy to find and appear in the same location throughout your site. You don’t want users to have to stop and consider what their next move is. Any delay may result in someone leaving your site.
2. UX Design - Use Keywords Wisely
You’ve probably heard some gurus state that keywords are on their way out. This is unlikely to ever happen because keywords are what people use when searching for a topic. What is on the way out is keyword stuffing and choosing ones that don’t match the content on the page.
It’s crucial to do keyword research and figure out what phrases people use when looking for the topic you’re writing about. What are some related phrases?
Obviously, you want to use your keywords in a natural way that makes sense to the reader. Don’t just stuff a few words here and there to get the rank. It is likely to backfire, as Google and other web crawlers also look at how usable your site is.
3. Speed Things Up
The faster your website runs, the more likely users will stick around and listen to what you have to say. Not only does a fast-loading site improve UX, but search engines also look at load times and other factors when determining your rank.
Invest in the best website hosting you can afford. A dedicated server will be much faster than a shared hosting plan, for example. Reduce the number of scripts and optimise elements on your page for lightning-fast speeds.
4. Match User Intent
Gartner reports companies focusing on user intent data are more likely to have a 10% or higher conversion rate compared to around a 2.5% average. When you combine UX design and SEO, you think through what users want out of a topic.
Are you fully covering the information they need to answer the question they have? For example, if a user searches for “bats,” do they mean a baseball bat or an animal? How can you ensure you’re matching their intent and providing the correct information to meet their needs?
If you just throw up keywords and don’t worry about intent, you might wind up with a lot of traffic, but it won’t be quality visitors. They may land on your page, realise you’re talking about baseball when they want to research the animal, and bounce away again.
You might even wind up paying for clicks that have zero value.
5. Study Website Analytics
To combine UX design and SEO into a powerhouse of a site, take time to study your website analytics. Where does your traffic come from? Do they use desktops or mobile devices or a split of the two? Ensure your site is compatible with smaller screens for the best results.
Create buyer personas based on the data you gather from your site. How effective is your site at solving pain points for the personas you most want to reach? Also, pay attention to where users go when they leave your site. Are they headed to a competitor’s site? How can you offer a better experience than others in your industry?
6. UX Design - Aim for Easy Readability
How hard is it to skim your site and grab the information needed? Utilise features such as smart snippets and send users to the bookmark on your page where the exact information they’ve searched for is located.
Your page should be at a reading level compatible with your audience. Make sure you don’t use words someone needs a dictionary to look up. Doing so may frustrate your readers.
Aim for skimmable content by adding in H2 headers and bullet points. Keep sentences and paragraphs short.
Put yourself in the shoes of the average user. They might have just a few minutes to find the information needed. Can they land on your page and skim over headlines to get the gist of the message?
Combine UX Design and SEO for Stickiness
If you want people to come to your site and stay there, you must combine UX design and SEO for usability. Pay attention to any complaints you receive and strive to fix issues. Conduct split tests to see what your users prefer. With time and determination, you’ll rank higher in the search engine results pages and you’ll convert the people who land on your site.
Eleanor is the editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She’s also a freelance web designer with a focus on customer experience. Eleanor lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.