What you need to know about the relationship between SEO and UX

Michael Gabrian

by Michael Gabrian on 05/30/2017

Search engine optimization and user experience are both crucial for a successful site, but what exactly is the relationship between the two? Can you have one without the other?

Well, they are pretty much two roads that lead to one common goal. What makes great UX? One piece is for people to actually come to your site, stay there, and ultimately accomplish some goal. When session times and click through rates begin to increase, your rankings will rise too.

“Google only loves you when everyone else loves you first.”

– Wendy Piersall

User experience stretches itself across all pieces of the sales funnel. Attracting people to your site, getting them to trade information for your gated content, and eventually having them request a quote or making a purchase. UX has it's hands in each piece, but SEO is primarily fixed towards attracting visitors to your site. It's almost strictly involved with the top of funnel activities. With that said, they're both still intertwined.

Big SEO ranking factors

There are plenty of best practices including link building, heading tags, site architecture, etc. But what it's it's actual purpose? To cut search time down to a couple of seconds or to make your site more visible? No. the focus is on the visitor now. It's about finding the best content relevant to what they are searching for. So user experience is a big factor in SEO

Content is, and has been a massive piece of SEO. Ideally, you'll have plenty of relevant, keyword rich articles on your site. How do you optimize it?

What exactly is your audience is looking for? What problems do they face and what solutions are out there? Write some in-depth articles that will help them understand their problems and needs.

Your mobile responsiveness is also something to be considered. At this point, most sites have great mobile versions regardless, but having a poor mobile version could actually hurt your SEO. Imagine trying to fill out a form or make a purchase through a site with a poor mobile version. Even trying to read an article and having to pinch and squeeze the screen. It's almost unheard of nowadays because of how terrible it is for your UX. 

How can we measure UX?

Alright, so each visitor comes to your site for a reason. The trick is knowing that reason and creating a path from the point they land on your site to the goal you want them to complete.

So your pages load quickly, they're easy to navigate, and your visitors can easily find what they're looking for. What are some metrics we can use to track the success of our UX?

SEOPressor gives us 3 metrics that not only provide insight to our user experience, but also have an impact on our SEO rankings. 

Bounce rate

Google considers a bounce when a visitor lands on your site and doesn't engage with any other interactions of the site. They might stay a while and read your article, but if they don't do anything else on the site, it's a bounce.

Bounces aren't necessarily bad though. If you have a high bounce rate for an article with no call to action, it could be relatively normal. If your home page is the gateway to all other content on your site and that page has a high bounce rate, that could be an issue.

Session duration

If your bounce rate is high for a given article, take a look at the session duration. How long were they on the page for? Did they read your content? If the duration is low, we can assume the visitor arrived to your site expecting one thing, but found their way to something they weren't looking for. 

So ideally, you want your visitor to spend some time on the site, engage with in, click through, and eventually fill out your CTA. If Google thinks visitors find value in your site, you'll be rewarded. As long as the keywords attracting the traffic are accurate, the pages load quickly, your content proves to be helpful, and navigation is easy, there's no reason you should suffer here. 

Number of return visitors 

If you find that you have a return visitor, you'll need to understand a couple of things:

  • Why/how did this person return
  • Did they convert last time: why/why not

You want to understand what lead them to your site last time and what lead them to your site for this current session. Is it the same topic of content? Is your CTA offering some kind of relevant offer?

If they haven't converted yet, take a look at your CTA. The visitor is obviously finding relevant content from you, hence the repeat visits, so there's a great opportunity for a conversion.

Takeaways

UX is a big part of SEO. They both work together to make sure the visitor finds the best, most useful results. Google rewards sites that provide visitors with value. How do visitors engage with your site? What happens after they actually find you?  

Some takeaway I want to go over with you include:

When it comes to creating a combination of SEO friendly and great content, just keep your audience in mind. What are they searching for? What problems do they face? Create articles that focus on these things, differentiate your H1 and H2 tags, and add a dash of keywords to the mix.

Make sure your site is not only mobile friendly, but it also has to load quickly. Slow site speed in the worst nightmare to UX, which then will hurt your rankings. 

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