At Yoast, we believe that the best SEO strategy is a holistic approach. With a holistic approach, SEO has a lot of “teammates” that have to work together. Simply optimizing your page titles isn’t enough. You also need to work on aspects like site speed, great content, and user experience (UX). In this post, we’ll focus specifically on the areas where SEO and UX meet. Why? Because both are vital topics to pay attention to if you’re running a website.
Common page elements that influence both SEO and UX
If you look at the basic elements on a page that influence your SEO, you’ll find a close relationship between SEO and user experience (UX). Below, we’ll discuss a few of these elements.
Page titles and headings
In general, understanding how to use the headings on your site is quite important. Why? Because they benefit your SEO and your users. An optimized page title and a related, visible <h1> element will tell Google what your page is about. But the page title and <h1> element also inform your visitors what the page is about. In addition, subheadings such as <h2> also help both Google and your visitors to scan a page and grasp the general idea of that page’s content.
What about external links? They’re great for SEO, because they tell Google that you respect your sources. Plus, external links can increase the odds that your sources will link back to you in their content. For your users, however, external links provide a way to access background information. They also give you credibility, because external links show visitors that you’ve done your research.
If you provide quality content, people want to link to you, and visitors want to read what you have to say. Plus, they’re more likely to stay on your site. That’s great, because these incoming links and time-on-page are things Google will notice. In fact, Google could even start to consider your content as the main source of information on a certain topic. So focus on creating that quality content! For example, you can add images and videos to your posts and pages, which will make both Google and your users happy.
Let’s say your post or page hasn’t fully answered the user’s question, then it’s great to point them to another page on your site. Why? Because you want to prevent users from clicking back to the search result pages. This is otherwise known as a bounce. A high bounce rate can have a negative influence on your SEO. It indicates to Google that you may not be answering your visitors’ search query.
One way to prevent a bounce is to make sure your site structure is clearly reflected on your page. In other words: No matter which pages a user visits, they know where they are on your website. It’s especially important that visitors know there’s more to explore on your site. So, how do you achieve this? Partly by creating (and maintaining!) an optimized menu, but also by making sure your website has a good structure. You can show your structure by using breadcrumbs, but you can also think along the lines of related posts and products. If you want more in-depth information, take a look at our site structure course!
And there’s another benefit to having a nice, hierarchical site structure: You make sure that Google can efficiently crawl your pages!
You might already be familiar with site speed. Still, it’s good to address the topic again, because it heavily influences your SEO and UX. How? First, visitors don’t like waiting for your content to load. Just think about it: How long do you want to wait for a page to load? A few seconds at most, probably.
Second, Google only wants to spend a certain amount of time on your site to crawl it. That’s why it’s important to optimize your site speed. Try different techniques, such as lazy loading images. In addition, you can defer parsing of JS and CSS files where possible. That way, you make sure your page will show something as soon as possible.
Nowadays, having a good mobile experience is extremely important. Luckily, the same rules that apply to your website also apply to its mobile version. It should be fast, well-designed, and have an easy-to-use navigation. After all, you want both users and search engines to quickly find what they’re looking for.
So think hard about the mobile version of your homepage! Does it cover the main areas of your website? Does it invite your visitors (and any search engine) to explore the rest of your website as well? Even button sizes could influence a user’s experience. You can always ask Google’s opinion on your mobile website via their mobile-friendliness test, or read our post on how to improve the mobile version of your site.
Conclusion: SEO and UX go hand in hand
As you can see, there are many areas where SEO and UX meet. It’s probably fair to say that almost every optimization that benefits your users (UX) will also have a positive effect on your SEO. And it’s the other way around too! If you deliver a poor user experience, you might see this reflected in the search result pages. Obviously, the impact may differ from optimization to optimization. But SEO and UX are clearly a great match in our larger concept of holistic SEO!
If you want to learn more about user experience (UX) and other essential SEO skills, you should check out our All-around SEO training! It doesn’t just tell you about SEO: it makes sure you know how to put these skills into actual practice!
Read more: What is UX (and why bother?) »
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