The days when websites were optimized for search engines only and flooded with keywords are long gone. The focus is now on the user and his individual needs and experiences, but the need for a target group-oriented approach is still challenging for many marketers.
In practice, the combination of SEO measures with areas of user experience (UX) proves to be a promising merger for long-lasting success. A positive experience with websites, products and services not only strengthens customer relations and trust, but also promises sustainable economic success. That’s why you should start optimizing your own website for specific factors to guarantee a flawless and possibly emotional experience for the user.
User experience (UX)
The user experience is one of the key success factors for digital concepts, since it determines if and how long a customer lingers on a webpage or rather leaves it immediately. The perception of the user basically affects not only the immediate use of an offered medium, but also the brand perception and recommendation by the customer, and consequently sales and profits.
In a nutshell, the user experience is defined by the perception and response of a person resulting from the use or expected use of a product, influenced by the design, functionality and features of a product or service. This includes not only the technical benefits, but also emotions, psychological and physiological responses, expectations and behavior of the user. Just as, previous knowledge and personal characteristics of the respective user play a major role.
In addition, the user's personal objectives play an important role: if these are achieved satisfactorily without much effort on the part of the user, this is a rewarding experience that is often described as "joy of use". This term describes the added value in the form of fun and entertainment when using a website or application. The more distinctive the joy of use, the more likely it is that the user experience turns out to be significantly positive. Thus, the focus of UX is not only on the context of user interaction, but also on the content and the aesthetics of the website.
It is obvious that the user experience is a highly subjective construct composed of various individual factors. It's a dynamic process that can change with every click, making it challenging for online marketing and in particular for search engine optimization. Addressing the individual needs of each customer is an almost impossible task in practice, but can be mastered with experience and the consideration of relevant categories.
Not only the technology of websites is becoming more and more complex and demanding, but the demands of the users as well. Thus, it must always be ensured that correct data is displayed - regardless of the user's device.
A good structure of the website is a basic requirement of any user- and search engine optimized website, since it lays the foundation for a positive user experience in this day and age.
A clear structure simply increases the usability of websites and exerts a positive influence on UX. This serves as a prerequisite for satisfied customers and efficient use of the search engine crawler. The website acts as a road map and ensures optimal navigation through all content. There is no place for pop-ups and long lists of dozens of options there, since a clear guideline is a must-have for the user.
Search engine optimization is all about the user and his experience. Both the user and the search engine perceive long load times as a highly disruptive factor. Today, most users expect the page to respond as quickly as possible, especially in the mobile sector. Long loading screens should therefore be a thing of the past - because they greatly increase the bounce rate and exert a negative impact on the user experience.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is a derivative of HTML, developed specifically for the creation of web pages for mobile devices. Compared to mobile-optimized websites or websites developed using responsive design, AMP is proved to significantly increase the load times of websites and thus act as a speed boost. This is achieved by the consistent streamlining of the source code of the web pages. Accelerated Mobile Pages are usually simply edited content that can be loaded very quickly and therefore offers clear advantages for mobile users. In the conventional presentation of search results, the use of AMP is not a criterion for the order of hits, but the ranking is positively influenced by the fact that AMP pages load faster and are especially optimized for mobile use.
In the meantime, more than half of all search queries are made with the smartphone or tablet, both internationally and regionally. Search engines recognized this trend several years ago and have incorporated this as a relevant factor in the SERPs as well as the ranking of websites, following the trend "mobile first". In more specific terms, this means to focus more on the user's mobile experience, including both the aesthetics and the design, as well as the structure, navigation and content.
Every element on a mobile website influences the user experience and has a direct or indirect impact on the search engine ranking. So, make sure that simple and smart designs, which are all about mobile usability, make not only the visitors of the website happy but the search engine crawler, too.
Content, the eternal king
The Google Panda update made clear that content is and remains one of the most crucial factors for the search engine ranking. Still, there remains the fact that not all content is equal and the process of creating content is getting increasingly complex, since the user is the focus of attention and not the search engine. Therefore, content should always be designed to meet the demands and needs of the users to provide them with the highest possible added value and to generate customer loyalty.
To conclude, just let me emphasize that (technically) flawless websites, short loading times, mobile optimization, and high-quality are crucial to guarantee a positive user experience. Then, the merger of UX and SEO creates new opportunities that convince not only the users, but also search engines, and this combination makes the difference.
By Daniela La Marca