Holistic SEO aims to optimize websites beyond the multitude of ranking factors and to holistically improve the online presence of companies. An essential part of this extensive consideration is dedicated to the topic of user experience.
Because: Classic SEO (keywords, H1 and Co.) is primarily aimed at the search engine. User experience, on the other hand, deals with the user and the question of how the best possible user experience can be established.
If the user experience leads to enthusiasm and increased interaction, the dwell time (length of stay) on the page increases (and the bounce rate decreases). In addition, a higher rate of returning users can be expected, who after an initial positive experience in an online shop are happy to come back to make their next purchase.
What does user experience mean?
User experience in the area of website design essentially relates to the question of how easy the website is to use while the user is interacting with it. In principle, it is about the usability of a website and the question of whether a user can satisfy his intention in the course of his visit: Can he intuitively select the products in an online shop and even pay directly with PayPal Express? Can they find user-friendly navigation on the website where they can see the information they are looking for? And how happy is the user with the overall interaction in the end?
The goal of website operators should be to make the interaction with a website as seamless as possible in order to maximize the user experience. The SEO aspect does not have to be disregarded, but can be seamlessly integrated into the improvement of the user experience. For this reason, in this article we mainly consider the following factors, which represent useful improvements from both a user experience and an SEO perspective:
- User signals
- Loading speed
- Mobile optimization
- Quality content
All measures, factors and components of your website, which we will take a closer look at below, can ultimately be traced back to user signals. User signals are various metrics that are used by Google to evaluate the user’s experience of interacting with a website. In this context, the dwell time and the associated pogo sticking should be mentioned as examples. These are essential indicators that Google uses to determine what (added) value a website offers users.
In order for users to be able to evaluate whether the content of a website corresponds to their intention, the page must first load. Many online marketers have long been familiar with the common statistics relating to loading time: slow pages not only lose users, but also experience significant drops in conversion rates. Not only does 1 in 4 users leave the website prematurely, 46% of all users never visit this website again after the bad user experience. Despite all this, loading times on many websites are not sufficiently optimized and even exceed the 20 second mark on mobile devices. A significant cut in the user experience. But since the mobile-first indexing revolution, Google has also “penalized” websites with comparatively poorer rankings. This again shows the enormous relevance of loading speed – for SEO and user experience alike.
Responsive design for smartphone users
More and more users are using the search on mobile devices. In 2019, 77% of users in the US were on the Internet with their smartphones for a large part of their time. If the user has spent 20 seconds of their precious life waiting for a loading website, only to find that this website is simply not suitable for interaction via smartphone in mobile view, satisfaction increasingly decreases – and the user understandably jumps off. This aspect of a website has also been a direct ranking factor on Google since 2015. Not only does the bounce rate increase with a large number of users who are used to other standards – Google itself recognizes the lack of usability and anticipates the lack of satisfaction among users. As a result, significant problems arise for the ranking potential of a website.
If the user defies a long loading time and, luckily, is finally on a usable mobile version of a website, the next piece of the puzzle comes into play: the navigation of the page. A flat and as unambiguous as possible page architecture, which is logical and understandable for everyone, guides the user to the desired content as quickly as possible. At the same time, such a structure directly supports Google in ensuring the crawlability of the page. As a result, the content of the page can also be better understood by Google and, above all, indexed. Thus, at best, Google can read the page so well that the website benefits from sitelinks in the search results and exerts a direct influence on the click through rate (which in turn favors clicks, which Google considers one of the most important user signals).
Hit search intention
Even more important than researching the most potent keyword for a subpage is the determination of the underlying intention. If a user searches for “buy football boots”, they don’t want to read long blog articles about the topic, but rather order the shoes of their choice conveniently in the online shop.
In order to have a chance of a good ranking, a precise answer to the search intention for the selected keyword is required. If this is the case, the user is satisfied and stays on the page in order to pursue his original intention – to buy products, to receive information or to find contact details. Not only does this increase the length of stay on the page, but there is also the chance that the user will take and convert actions that are relevant to the company.
Qualitative articles with structure
If the user is not looking for football boots, but instead wants to find out more about a topic, it is important that texts or blog posts present what they are looking for as sensibly, simply and clearly as possible. An understanding of the subject should be possible without the user needing a degree in the relevant subject.
Instead, authors should use simple language that simultaneously conveys the most important information on the topic, such as building backlinks:
In this example, another essential factor becomes visible: the structure of the content.
For an increased user experience, breaking up the content with sub-headings is inevitable. Instead of a pure text block, a blog post must be broken down into comprehensible sections and paragraphs and supported by media (photos, videos, infographics). This also increases the length of stay and the user experience. Users are inclined to return to the website and discover new content, as the first impression remains positive.
The integration of the most important keywords in the headings is now only half the battle for optimizing the headings. The logical structure and direct addressing of the user are gaining in importance in order to increase the attractiveness of a website and to achieve long-term user loyalty.
Use call to actions
Calls for action in the form of buttons, internal links and contact forms not only benefit SEO and the conversion rate – they also benefit the user, who can find their way around a page more easily and find relevant additional information.
The future of UX and SEO
The primary goal of Google is user satisfaction – it has always been and will always be. However, this is only possible if a search engine perfectly recognizes the search intention and displays the corresponding results. So it is the role of webmasters to structure web pages so that both Google and users find it an easy task to surf, read and interact with the website.
Final question: Who do you think of when you plan a redesign of your site? Content prepared for upload? Do you think of the user who visits the page at the end, or is it all about SEO and the search engine’s discretion? How is your balance between SEO and UX? Leave a comment and tell us more !!!!!
Balancing SEO and UX can be a challenge. No matter if you are a beginner or a professional. Our Digital Strategies Group will help you with the best recommendations for your website.