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Elena Terenteva

SEO and User Experience #semrushchat

Elena Terenteva
SEO and User Experience #semrushchat

User experience (or UX) has become a buzzword for digital marketers over the past few years. E-commerce and targeted campaigns have revolutionized the way audiences look at and evaluate websites and conditioned them to prefer websites that are a pleasure to visit. Consequently, websites with a high-quality user interface (UI) will drive more conversions.

Is there any way a well-thought-out UX can affect search engine optimization (SEO)? What principles used by experienced UI marketers could you use for your own page’s navigation or layout? In today’s SEMrush Twitter Chat, Andrea Pernici and our other chat participants will answer these and other related questions.

What do UX designers need to know about SEOBefore starting to design your interface or navigation for your new service, your designer should be aware of the importance of UX for your SEO and your general marketing strategy. Use these answers from our guests as a checklist to properly access your designer’s work.

Almost half of all new user interaction with your website comes from organic search, and the other half usually comes from paid advertisements in search engines. This means that interaction begins on SERPs and that your interface is the bridge between your advertising promises and your website's content. The second thing to consider is that SEO is not only about overtaking competitors in result pages; it plays a multifaceted role. Finally, the third thing to be aware of is the constraints that SEO imposes on your site’s design and coding.

It is sometimes a daunting task to teach a designer to think like a marketer, but it’s definitely worth providing them with insight into basic Google Analytics metrics. Martin Kelly @MartinKSEO defines three of them: low bounce rate, time spent on site and the number of page views from both organic search and paid campaigns. Looking at search data can be a huge help when it comes to UX; and, likewise, UX research and A/B testing can help with SEO.

Some say good SEO lies at the very foundation of proper UX, because both are essentially a means of making the user’s journey more comfortable — from SERP to purchase.

HTML markup is important when it comes to SEO, because it helps search engines build snippets. With the implementation of Schema.org markup standards, your business can choose rich snippets for product and server pages and informational articles. This doubles your points on a UX scale and further helps to improve conversions and brand awareness.

When SEO is supported by proper UX, conversions will soon follow! Along with selling opportunities, this combination also helps with link building and brand awareness, because happy users are more likely to advertise your product for free.

Mobile searches have increased over the past year, and it seems that over 50 percent of all searches will soon be performed on mobile devices. UX plays a large role in attracting mobile users for obvious reasons: if a website is fully adapted for mobile traffic, it’s easier to use and worth staying on longer.

Overall, the most important things every UX designer should pay attention to are: SEO (it’s the root of all UX), tags, navigation and content!

Things UX designers need to know about SEO

There are a lot of marketing problems that are easily solved through discussion and brainstorming sessions that involve the whole team. Some UX principles used by designers can conflict with SEO needs. But when should SEOs agree with them?

When an SEO always listen to UXDiscussion lies at the very foundation of every project. In other words, SEOs should always pay attention to their other team members and understand their needs and concerns.

When it comes to conversions, it’s better to hear everyone’s opinions on the subject before making a decision. Cooperation matters!

If all discussions with your team result in meaningless disputes, take a minute to try some team-building activities. A team works best when all members work together and take individual responsibility.

Situations when SEO should listen to UX

From the questions above, we learned that SEO and UX designers should cooperate for better results. But what does this cooperation looks like? What tools should a team use to maintain a stable “SEO + UX” workflow? Let’s sort this out.

What does the SEO + UX workflow look like

Let’s start with some general ideas that force UX designers and marketers to collaborate with each other. Andrea Pernici suggested a few basic concepts:

Here’s a list of tools shared by Altos @altos:

First-party:  Google Analytics, Google Search Console and HotJar

Third-party: SEMRush and other similar tools

The are a lot of tools on the market to cover all these needs. We encourage our users to compare them for themselves.

Agile process management is an incremental approach to building applications or redesigning your website. Make sure the work of all of your project’s contributors is as transparent as possible, and track changes in a log to determine which techniques work best from a marketing perspective.

Although a lot of designers hate corporate standards, reporting is a great thing as it helps teams track progress on a project and assess each participant’s contribution. All in all, SEO and UX require constant collaboration between teams, and the most important tools are teamwork, an open mind and Google Analytics!

SEO + UX workflow

Collaboration can be a tough task for project managers, especially in a big enterprise environment. Conflicts are inevitable. The next question will reveal conflict situations SEOs and UX designer might face and how to deal with them.

What conflicts could an SEO and a UX designer face

Object mismatch could become a serious threat to an SEO and a UX designer’s relations when working on a project, and Andrea was the first to mention this.

Differences in team members’ background and experience can also interfere with work, but both SEOs and designers should remember that their personal objectives must be left at the door when completing work for a client.  

A/B split tests, as mentioned by Peter Nikolow @PeterNikolow, are the best judges in cases of uncertainty, because they can show your audience’s preference towards one variant or another on your page. And here’s an addition to Peter’s answer:

The tools mentioned in the previous question are also useful when facing conflicts as they allow both sides work in numbers, not just suggestions.

For some marketers, the best practice is to not involve SEOs in key UX decisions. But is this a decent strategy? Only time will tell.

So, the main points of interest clash are different opinions, goals and expertise level. Page aesthetics usually goes against high performance and content volume affecting the style — there are a lot of questions that need to be discussed before even beginning a project.

Conflicts that an SEO and a UX designer can face

A redesign is always a pain for both SEOs and UX designers, since it affects organic search as well as overall user interaction with a website. So how can you avoid an SEO disaster? Let’s find out with the next question.

How do you avoid an SEO disaster during a website redesign

If you’re not planning to migrate to another domain or significantly change the back end of your website, the redesign process should be simple. SEOs should consider a full audit for a few things that Andrea shared with us in his answer.

The best tactic is to bring everyone together in the planning stage and let the team share their concerns and doubts. Write them on the blackboard, so everyone will be aware of them during the process.

The earlier an SEO is involved in a project, the better. “It’s really, really a plus if you actually involve the SEOs early on,” says Ian Lurie @portentint.

Checklists can be a huge help during the redesign process for people who are not involved in SEO directly. Compile a few notes for different branches and team members and you will have a decent SEO foundation at the end of your project.

Let’s summarize these opinions. To avoid an SEO disaster during a website redesign, you should come up with a thorough checklist and ensure clear communication between team members. Don’t forget to involve the SEOs as early as possible!

Website redesign checklist

It’s time for predictions, since this past year significantly changed our attitude towards UX and, moreover, changed audiences a bit. What mutual interests will guide UX and SEO in the future? Let’s ask our experts.

How will the relationship between SEO and US evolve

The future promises a giant leap in UX and UI development and it will soon be a major mark of success between them.

In the future, SEOs must become versatile specialists who understand the basics (and the advanced techniques!) of UX design, just as designers should be aware of basic SEO principles.

Yakiseo @Yakiseo suggests that in future, SEO and UX will merge into a totally new profession — SEO + UX = SXO. We’ll all have to become search experience optimizers, working both for Google and the user. And our other participants are in agreement.

There are signs that UX will soon be a ranking factor. And the guys from Google are already working on this.

Whether or not UX will become a ranking factor in the future, there are a lot of websites with a poor UX that are currently ranked very high in SERPs. Will this remain a trend? Most likely not.

Cooperation is crucial even at this stage of UX development. Apart from SEO influence it’s highly affects the purchasing process.

What will the future bring? Well, first, perhaps a combination of SEO and UX within one versatile specialist, and, second, UX as a ranking factor between different search engines.

Future relationship between SEO and UX

That’s it for today! As always, hugs and kisses to Andrea Pernici and our other SEMrush chat participants for sharing their expertise and experience.

Join us this Wednesday!

Elena Terenteva, Product Marketing Manager at SEMrush.

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