In the last couple of years, the Internet has changed a lot. Especially how people use it and what companies expect from it.
In its earliest days, businesses saw the internet as a promotional platform, at best. Now, the entire customer experience can take place online. With new expectations and demands from both users and companies, two fields emerged: SEO and UX.
UX and SEO are usually seen as two very different disciplines. And, in some cases, they’re even seen as opposites. Sometimes it seems like SEO strategies and UX best practices push priorities in contradicting directions. But in fact, especially considering how Google’s algorithm operates today, SEO and UX can complement each other perfectly.
Implementing UX best practices can guarantee that your site provides a high-quality user experience, and fully takes advantage of its organic positioning strategy. Actually, good UX may be the key to reaching your SEO goals in 2023.
In this post, we’ll take a look at 8 key SEO and UX best practices that can help you rank higher and offer a better user experience. But first, let’s take a brief look at the link between these two disciplines.
Is UX a Search Engine Ranking Factor?
As you probably already know, SEO focuses on optimizing your website so it’s favored by search engines in general and by Google in particular. To reach the first page of Google, a website must be seen as trustworthy and authoritative, providing unique value to users.
Meanwhile, UX (User Experience) focuses on making your website a pleasant and accessible experience for users. UX also focuses on maximizing some of your website’s features, to help you reach strategic goals. For instance, you can optimize your UX to increase sales.
UX involves UI (User Interface) design, but its scope goes far beyond it, covering everything from product strategy to copywriting.
In the early 2010s, filling up your pages with keywords was an acceptable SEO strategy. But that’s far from being the case today.
Google’s algorithm has changed a lot in the last few years. If you take a look at key ranking factors today and UX best practices for websites, you’ll find considerable overlap.
In the next section, we’ll take a look at the intersection between SEO & UX, from an actionable perspective.
SEO & UX Best Practices for 2023
To win at both SEO and UX in 2023, we recommend you:
- Have a clear structure (and purpose) for all your pages
- Prioritize speed – especially on mobile
- Implement AMP pages
- Implement conversational marketing
- Use visual content
- Make accessibility a part of your strategy
- Practice your UX knowledge constantly
- Write high-quality copy
Set clear & scannable page structures
Structuring your website (and your pages) for easy navigation brings benefits on many fronts:
- It makes your site more accessible to disabled users
- It reduces unnecessary friction in your user experience
- It makes it easier to address common user concerns in a way that’s direct and engaging
There’s also an SEO benefit to having a clear site structure. By giving each page in your site a well-defined subject matter, and organizing your content in sections, you make it easier for Google to understand what your pages are about.
For example, let’s say you run an online tech store. You may have created a landing page to increase sales for a highly-anticipated video game console, on Black Friday.
There are various ways to structure your page. You could go for long paragraphs, dive into the story of the console, use substantial quotes from news reports, and constantly repeat the console’s core features. Or you can get a little more imaginative, and use common UI patterns to organize your content, according to your users’ many different needs.
For instance, instead of addressing Frequently Asked Questions in a series of paragraphs, create a FAQs board, and turn your answers and questions into Structured Data.
For an in-depth guide into how to make your site easier to navigate, both for users and for Google bots, check out our Sitemap Best Practices.
Mobile speed first
Speed is a key ranking factor, and it also affects your UX significantly. A slow-loading website may not even get to be experienced by users, who will bounce before it has fully loaded.
Microinteractions and tons of HD images can make your site look elegant, reliable, and almost futuristic. But it can also make it extremely heavy. Make sure you deliver your heaviest assets in the most efficient way possible. Minimize your CSS, defer your JS, and don’t load content that the user hasn’t requested. If you’re on WordPress, you can easily implement these changes through an SEO plugin.
On mobile, you’ll probably want to prevent some animations and visual elements from loading at all.
Implement AMP pages
Consider setting AMP pages. AMP pages are mobile-optimized versions of your site’s pages that deliver a bare-bones UI, in exchange for amazing speed. There’s far more to AMP technology than removing non-essential design elements. AMP also involves pre-rendering your content and delivering it through a proxy layer provided by Google itself.
We recommend using AMP pages for information-heavy content, rather than landing pages.
Conversational marketing is a digital trend to keep an eye on, in 2023.
Implementing a chatbot on your site can positively impact both your SEO and your UX.
According to Outgrow, 69% of users prefer websites with chatbots, as they can quickly answer their most common questions.
While taking your user experience to a different level, chatbots will also prolong the amount of time that users spend on your site. That’s great news for your SEO team since session duration is a SERP ranking factor.
Add visual content
When discussing page structure, we mentioned the need to use images across your site. Using product pictures, illustrations, and infographics isn’t just an aesthetic decision. These assets can enrich your users’ experience, and create new ranking opportunities.
Optimizing your images for SEO has two dimensions:
- You can optimize your visual content to rank on Google Images, by using descriptive and relevant alt-text.
- You can optimize your visual content so it doesn’t hurt your website’s site speed (and therefore, your SERP positioning). This is as simple as compressing your images and using next-generation formats such as WEBP.
Alt-text is one of the many elements of your site’s code that impact both SEO and accessibility. By adding alt-text, you’re not only letting Google know what your image is about, there’s a double benefit. Alt-text is read by screenreaders, tools that help visually impaired users browse the internet. So, when encountering your visual content, instead of ignoring it or reading the filename, a screen reader will read your alt-text.
That’s one of the many reasons why your alt-text should be descriptive without being spammy. For instance, the alt-text for this section’s infographic is “How screenreaders and Google bots interpret an image without alt-text”, not “SEO & UX best practices alt-text accessibility”. The first option describes the image’s content in context. The second option is just a string of keywords.
In the next section, we’ll take an extra look at the link between accessibility and SEO.
Accessibility is about making your website usable to as many people as possible, regardless of ability or internet speed. Complying with accessibility best practices results in offering the type of high-quality user experience that Google prefers.
Using alt-text for your images helps disabled users, but compressing your images so they’re below 1 MB can help those users who have an unstable internet connection.
When discussing SEO & accessibility, you’ll notice a pattern: For every accessibility improvement, you get an SEO advantage.
It’s worth mentioning that, when it comes to making your website accessible for the disabled, there’s far more to consider than just alt-text.
Make sure your website is keyboard-accessible, and make your navigation as easy to figure out as possible.
Use H1s, H2s, and H3s to organize your content, not just visually, but also conceptually. Never use more than one H1 per page, use H2 titles for your first-level subtitles, and “nest” H3s and H4s below your H2s.
Pro-tip: If you need an H3 title to look like an H2, or an H2 title to look like an H1, you can get it done with CSS, without jeopardizing your site’s structure. Simply create a class for every title style. For example:
Practice your UX knowledge constantly
As we’ve seen so far, UX is a key factor to pay attention to when implementing an SEO strategy. However, there’s not always going to be a UX expert in your team to coordinate efforts with. That’s why, if you are working as a freelance SEO specialist, you should at least be aware of UX principles and keep your skills updated.
There are many ways you could learn and improve your UX knowledge. Besides traditional methods like online courses that can be very time-consuming, there are innovative alternatives worth exploring like UX online games.
Create high-quality copy
As we mentioned earlier in this article, back in the early 2010s, keyword stuffing was both rampant and useful. But, in 2023, repeating your focus keyword 40 times on a 400-word landing page won’t cut it.
Original and valuable content is king. Take your time to understand who your users are, and how to best address them through your copy. Conduct keyword research, not just to know which keywords to target, but to understand your users’ needs, concerns and interests. That simple change will put you ahead of most of your competitors.
Everything Begins with Clean Code
SEO and UX problems often arise, not from what the users see, but from the code that’s behind it. Keeping your code clean, and detecting potentially harmful changes can be time-consuming and inefficient. That’s how SEORadar enters the picture.
SEORadar is an SEO disaster prevention toolkit. It automatically checks your website’s codebase, looking for potentially harmful changes. From a small “noindex” tag to a missing keyword, nothing slips under our radar. When finding an error, we automatically notify you, helping you take action before your SERP positioning is impacted.