It may seem like strong SEO and a good UX work against each other sometimes, but, there’s no reason they need to. And there are many who would tell you that good UX is good SEO, and vice-versa.
When goals and strategies are aligned, balancing SEO and UX can create powerful pages that dominate search engine results and inspire conversions at a high rate. In the following article, we explore how to take a balanced approach to implementing the best SEO and UX practices on your site to win the spaces you want.
SEO vs. UX
Search engine optimization (SEO) and user experience (UX) are two different disciplines in the world of digital marketing. While SEO seeks to maximize performance on search engine results pages (SERPs), the goal of UX is to maximize conversions by leading users to a conversion – or desired on-page action.
While these are two very different practices with different immediate goals, they both serve the same high-level goal of getting as many users to convert as possible. In some cases, good SEO practices and good UX practices can interfere with each other. If a page is optimized too much towards search engines, the user experience could suffer. Similarly, if a page is overly focused on the user experience, it could hurt its performance in the SERP landscape.
How to Balance SEO and UX for the Best Results
The inherent conflict between SEO and UX means that a balanced approach is necessary to achieve the best overall results. That balance can best be achieved when teams are aligned on goals and strategy and understand how to work towards each other’s benefit.
In the following section, we go over four steps that can help you achieve that balance with your marketing team.
1. Create a Clean, Logical Navigation
Most internet users are looking to get to what they want as quickly and easily as possible. This means that your site navigation tools are of the utmost importance. While this may seem like primarily a UX issue, SEO also plays a role.
From the UX side, the simpler your navigation is, the better it is for the user – at least, up to a point. Especially today, when more users are visiting pages through mobile devices with small screens, limiting the number of items in your navigation menus is important to keeping your site easy to use.
For SEO specialists, this can present an issue. In general, more pages is better from the SEO perspective. However, not all those pages need to be directly accessible from the navigation menu.
This is where organization skills come in handy. Your SEO team can present a list of content categories to your UX team for consideration. The teams can then work together to decide how many categories are ideal for the navigation experience and organize content accordingly. This way, the SEO team gets to keep its wealth of content and even expand without making navigation a chore for the user.
2. Build Thoughtful High-Level Messaging
One of the main tools an SEO specialist has is creating a logical hierarchical structure on a page. They do this by organizing information under headers in a way that is clear and easy for search engines to understand. When information is well-organized, search engine algorithms will find information where it expects to and reward the site in SERP placement.
But a well-organized structure also works to benefit the human user. Building a logical navigation with well-considered header hierarchies means that people will also find the information they came to the page to find more easily. This improves the overall UX and increases the likelihood that a user will engage with conversion opportunities on the page.
A good way to ensure alignment is to let SEO and UX specialists work together on outlining the structure of the page. Allow teams to share keyword research to inform which terms have the most relevance to the user and therefore, how they should be prioritized. By considering both perspectives, your team can create structural solutions that work to everyone’s benefit.
3. Deliver a Dynamic Presentation
Pages need a certain amount of content to have a chance at ranking in the SERPs. More content on a page gives SEOs more to work with and more opportunities to collect traffic from related searches.
But while a wall of text might have a lot of SEO value, it is certainly poor UX. That means that you need to have enough information on your page to get it to rank to get people in, but not so much at once that it makes a page difficult to read and engage with.
You can solve this problem by creating dynamic page layouts that mix text with images, infographics, and even video. Using visual elements to break up text allows your team to fit as much information as it needs to satisfy the search engines while creating a page that is engaging and easy to read. Allow your SEO to create the written content they need to rank, and then empower your UX team to find dynamic ways to present that information.
4. Put Mobile First
It has now been several years since Google announced a shift to “mobile-first indexing.” Since at least 2016, Google and other search engines have prioritized the mobile version of pages when indexing them. That means that you, too, need to prioritize the mobile experience to have the best chance at ranking.
While this doesn’t change the information that needs to go on a page, it does change how it should be presented. For a pleasant mobile experience, space is even more important than it is on desktop.
From an SEO perspective, this means considering using even more headers to break up sections of text and building a smooth, logical content flow. For UX specialists, it means ensuring that there is plenty of “breathing room” between blocks of text, images, and other page elements. It also means ensuring that buttons, navigation bars, links, and anything else clickable is easy to interact with on a small screen.
Balancing SEO and UX: Conclusion
Striking the right balance between SEO and UX with your content is a challenge. But that challenge is most easily solved by open communication and cooperation from the ground up. Rather than having SEO and UX teams battling over “fixing” each other’s work, align those teams from the outset.
Balancing SEO and UX: FAQ
How do SEO and UX work together?
SEO and UX work together by bringing users to a page through search engine results and then creating a positive page experience once they get there. SEO teams maximize structure and keyword strategy to rank in search engines to get users to land on a page. UX specialists can design a page experience that leads those users to perform an action and convert.
Do UX designers do SEO?
UX designers do some SEO work by the nature of their job. One example is in page organization. A well-organized structure to a page is essential to SEO work, but it also delivers a more positive user experience.
How do I combine SEO and UX to improve my website?
You can improve your website by combining SEO and UX efforts towards a common goal. The best way to do that is to have both sides cooperate on strategy and execution as early in the content creation process as possible. When both sides take each other’s work into consideration, they can form balanced solutions that can greatly improve site performance.
Does UX affect SEO?
UX can affect SEO in several ways. One example is if a UX specialist removes a lot of text to create an easier experience for the user. This can remove targeted keywords from the content and hurt a page’s performance in search engine results.