User experience or UX refers to the user interface and the process users follow to interact with a website. SEO or search engine optimization is the process by which web designers and marketers ensure that the site has the utmost search visibility. With the growing importance of digital and content marketing, SEO and UX are equally critical to web design from the technical details to the words on the page. The rules of a good UX and the rules of good SEO are often at odds with each other. For law firms currently undergoing a website redesign or considering one, an important question to consider is what is the right balance between UX and SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization is a marketing discipline that drives web traffic and improves search rankings through careful planning and presentation of your website’s content. Successful SEO makes your web content more visible to users in search results.
The basic idea of SEO is to craft content in such a way that when users search for keywords or phrases that are relevant to your site or area of law, your website will be featured as one of the top – if not the top – search results. SEO allows you to target traffic, which is about providing what you can offer to the people who are looking for it. It isn’t just about creating sites that are highly visible. More importantly, it is about making your site more valuable than your competition in the eyes of both your audience and the search engines. Good SEO techniques can connect you to thousands of potential visitors, increase awareness of your site, and give you the advantage over competitors.
The user experience or (UX) refers to the overall experience of a person using a website or computer application, especially in terms of how easy or pleasing it is to use.The user experience is the space where humans and computers systems interact. A good user experience involves designing websites in a way that makes navigation simple, intuitive, and efficient.
A website’s interface should be clear and simple so as to avoid confusion and disappointment for users. But, along with simplicity, it should also catch the user’s attention and meet their expectations. The content must be informative, and more than that, it should be easy to browse and search and simple and intuitive to navigate.
How SEO and UX Work Together
SEO and UX work hand in hand to serve the user’s intent. SEO drives web traffic, while UX creates and leaves a lasting impression. Simply put, a path (SEO) leads to a destination (UX). To be successful in online marketing, you’ll need to do two things. First, you’ll need to make sure the path to your website is clear and easy to find. Second, you’ll need to make sure the destination users find at the end of the path is a place they want to be, and perhaps more importantly, a place they want to return to in the future.
In the past, SEO professionals only cared about keyword rankings and therefore designed web pages that repeated that keyword as often as possible without giving much thought about the user experience. That all changed when Google changed its algorithm and started to penalize sites that did that.
Today, Google actually considers the overall user experience of a website as a ranking factor. Google looks at factors like bounce rate, time spent on page, and number of pages viewed per session as a way to measure authority and engagement. The better the engagement numbers are for a web page, the more likely it is that it will rank highly on search engine results pages.
Search engines have some of the most advanced data mining operations in the world. They aren’t just helping people find what they want; they’re collecting data that helps them understand user behavior. From that data, the algorithms get tweaked in order to give searchers more of what they want and less of what they don’t.
Which means websites that do a better job of meeting the needs of searchers have a better chance of landing on the first page of the search results. In this sense, anything we do for search engines we are doing for the searchers.
SEO/ UX Best Practices
- Keyword research- Proper keyword research should be the starting point for each webpage you build. It is critically important for both SEO and the user experience.
- Click optimization – it is critical to optimize the language that you use on a page’s title, URl, breadcrumbs and meta descriptions. This is not only for SEO purposes but also because the more precise and descriptive you can be, the more likely it will be for a searcher to click on your link even if other links rank above you on search engine results pages.
- Keep the searcher on your site – Getting the searcher on your website is half the battle. The other half is keeping them there and making them want to discover other content on your site. Proper navigation, easy to discover related content and calls to action are three important factors that should be considered for every page on your site.
- Speed- No visitor wants to wait forever for a page to load. Therefore it is important to make sure your pages load quickly and that the user experience is not affected negatively by slow loading pages. Image compression, streamlined code and fast servers are important elements in the overall user experience. In addition, Google recently announced that starting on July 18, 2018, page speed will become a ranking factor for mobile search.
Digital marketing is not an exact science. It is important for your to continually test the effectiveness of your website with both visitors as well as search engines. Savvy digital marketers know this and are constantly testing different methods on both SEO and the user experience. In order to find the right balance between UX and SEO, marketers and webmasters need to continually experiment and test in order to achieve the results they are looking for.