Your website is responsible for many different tasks in your marketing strategy. It is the primary platform on which you will display your content, and it is the beacon you put up to gain the attention of search engines. As you consider the role of your website in marketing your business, you should think about two distinct perspectives. First, you should consider the user experience, or UX, that individuals will have when they come to your site. Is it easy to navigate? Does the site look good and encourage people to keep reading and clicking on links? Does the site leave a positive impression on potential customers? Next, you will want to think about how your website performs in search rankings. Is your site designed with SEO in mind? Are search engines able to identify the information-rich content you’ve posted on your site?
As you consider these vital questions about both UX and SEO as they pertain to your website—which in turn will shape your content strategy—you will find that there is a fair amount of overlap between UX-favorable and SEO-favorable site design. There are, however, some areas where the requirements of each differ, and reconciling these will be essential for an effective search marketing campaign.
Like SEO, UX is a big subject to define. In general, UX can be thought of as the takeaway that people will have when they interact with your site. The behaviors, emotions, and responses that your site inspires will provide insight into the experience that you are offering to visitors. UX design will focus on improving the accessibility, intuitiveness, and visual appeal of your site to create a more positive impression that encourages certain behaviors, such as purchasing a product.
Knowing Where UX and SEO Overlap
UX design and SEO-friendly site design share many of the same goals, and that’s because SEO is designed around criteria that consider the ease of finding information from the perspective of a consumer. That means that your UX goals can typically play into your content goals, and vice versa. However, SEO is limited by the capabilities of search engine crawlers that “read” the contents of a given site before ranking it among others in search results. That means that you may need to include features on your site that create greater accessibility for search engine bots, but may not necessarily add anything to the user experience for those already on your site. This is where it is particularly helpful to work with a skilled content team who can bridge the gaps between streamlined UX and SEO indexing.
Identifying UX and SEO Clashes
- Consolidation vs. Segmentation – You might think that the ideal user experience for your site would be to have everything on the same page. Even if that’s true, you have to think about how this comes across from an SEO angle. Without dedicated landing pages for each of your services, Google and other search engines may not recognize your site as a source of information for these subject areas. Therefore, it may be necessary to segment and prioritize your SEO needs rather than trying to consolidate the number of indexed and linked pages on your site.
- Internal Linking and Site Navigation – UX makes assumptions about user intuition that SEO design cannot. Without the concern of SEO, it might make sense to limit the number of linkable pages on your site, allowing users to simply find the subheading they need on a given page. Because search engines do not have this type of intuitiveness, you may need to build out a more complex site map, but this can pay off by allowing greater accessibility for your website visitors as well.
- Keyword Use on Pages – Proponents of UX will tell you that it’s beneficial to minimize wherever possible—reduce wordiness, simplify your site design, and create a more succinct experience. Still, you need to say enough that the full intention of each page remains clear. You need to provide the right level of context with longtail keywords and strategically placed anchor text so that search engine users are able to find your site.
- Search Crawler Readability – We’ve touched on the fact that search crawlers will understand and interpret a website differently than a human user. One of the most important differences is the ability to discern visual media. You might have an app or video that creates an engaging, immersive experience for readers, but this could be completely lost on a search engine without the right tags, transcription, and categorization.
If you are finding that your UX design is failing to deliver the SEO results that you want, or you think it may be time to rethink your site design altogether, schedule a discovery call with Pennington Creative. We can identify any weaknesses in your website copy and provide unique, SEO-friendly pages to supplement your website and help you be seen on the web.