27 Minute Read

Leveraging SEO for a Better User Experience

Good user experience (UX) is essential for any website, but it’s especially important for B2B websites. After all, if customers can’t find what they’re looking for or have a bad experience while browsing on your site, they’re likely to take their business elsewhere. And that’s something no business wants to happen.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to improve your website’s UX. One of them is leveraging on-page SEO.

Yes, you read that right. SEO can be used to improve UX. How, you ask? By helping you better understand what users are looking for and how they want to consume your content.

The Branchers have outlined a few ways to use search engine optimization in order to create a more compelling and attractive user experience. Here are three basic, overarching principles you’re probably already familiar with:

Optimize for Intent

When you’re optimizing your content for the user experience, it’s important to keep the user’s search intent in mind. What are they looking for when they land on your page? What information are they hoping to find?

Make sure your title, meta description, and content are all geared towards answering those questions as clearly and concisely as possible. Don’t make the user hunt for the information they need – give it to them upfront.

DYK: SEO factors are often UX factors? 🤯 By investing in one, you often invest in the other! Find out how you can improve your SEO, and in turn UX, with @RedBranch’s latest: Click To Tweet

Use Engaging Images and Videos

Images and videos are a great way to break up text and make your content more engaging. They can also help explain complex concepts in a way that words alone can’t.

When selecting images and videos for your content, make sure they are high quality and relevant to the topic at hand. Also, be sure to use keywords in your alt text to help improve your SEO.

Use Scrolling Triggers

One of the best ways to keep users engaged with your content is to use scrolling triggers. These are elements on the page that encourage the user to keep scrolling down. Some common scrolling triggers include:

  • calls to action (“Keep reading to learn more!”)
  • images or videos that are cut off at the bottom of the screen
  • social media buttons that appear after the user scrolls down a certain amount

The Intersection of SEO & User Experience

SEO factors are often UX factors, and improving the user experience can have a direct impact on your SEO results. By optimizing for the user experience, you’re not only making your site more enjoyable to visit, but you’re also giving yourself a better chance of ranking higher in search engine results pages.

Reducing load times reduce user bounce rates. User experience is about making a website more user-friendly with the aim of retaining visitors for longer. One of the aims is to understand how people interact with your site and make changes so that visitors can easily find what they are looking for on the site, without having to explore too much. It’s not just about loading times. It’s about how easily people can find the information they are looking for on a website.

Peep the @RedBranch article to discover a few ways to use search engine optimization in order to create a more compelling and attractive user experience. Click To Tweet

The following are some methods that help to improve user experience, and as such, improve SEO ranking:

  • Improve page speed – One of the most important aspects of user experience is page speed. When pages take too long to load, users are likely to leave. This is especially true on mobile devices. Use a tool such as Google PageSpeed Insights to identify specific areas where you can improve page speed.
  • Optimize images – Another way to improve page speed is by optimizing images. You can use a tool such as ImageOptim to compress images without losing quality.
  • Minimize pop-ups – Pop-ups can be annoying and intrusive, especially on mobile devices. If you must use pop-ups, make sure they are relevant and not disruptive.
  • Easy to navigate menus – Users should be able to easily find what they are looking for on your website. Use clear and concise menus that are easy to navigate.
  • Use of keywords – Keywords are still an important aspect of SEO. Make sure you use relevant keywords throughout your website, including in titles, meta descriptions, and content.
  • Use of engaging multimedia – Images and videos can help break up text and make your content more engaging. They can also help explain complex concepts in a way that words alone can’t.
  • Improving cumulative layout shift provides your audience a virtually stable and engaging experience, with few-to-no disruptions. In order to get a sense of cumulative layout shift, you can use an overlayed heatmap testing tool. The overlayed heatmap will represent changes in mouse movement, attention, and clicks on the page, allowing you for further data interpretation about how well your website is performing with its user experience.
  • Optimizing the right page for the right keyword improves engagement on that page. It also improves click-through rates (CTRs) from SERPs, and reduces the bounce rates back to the search engine results pages (SERP). Identifying high-value keywords is essential for any SEO campaign. However, not all keywords are created equal.

Aligning SEO with UX  provides a better overall experience for your website visitors, and can also improve your SEO results. By focusing on the user experience, you’re not only making your site more enjoyable to visit, but you’re also giving yourself a better chance of ranking higher in search engine results pages.

The KPIs Are Really Different

Before going down the path of aligning your UX and SEO efforts, you first must realize that the KPIs are different:

SEO is primarily focused on driving qualified traffic. SEO is important for discovery.

UX is focused on engagement once on the site. UX is important for engagement and conversion.

SEO should never be sacrificed for better UX, but in many cases, improving the user experience can have a direct impact on your SEO results.

URL structure should be optimized for both users and search engines – use keywords in your URLs to help users and search engines understand what the page is about. But, don’t stuff keywords into your URLs as this can have a negative impact on your SEO.

Use breadcrumbs – breadcrumbs help users understand where they are on your website and improve the overall user experience. They can also be beneficial for SEO as they provide an additional way for search engines to understand your website structure.

Your exec team should know that investments in aligning SEO and UX can be significant and include:

  • Site redesigns
  • Architecture
  • New content
  • Hosting reconfigurations

However, changes in downstream content experience can be expensive to re-engineer later in the process. Invest in the right tools and processes early on to avoid costly rework later.

SEO Measures/KPIs UX Measures/KPIs
Rankings Usability
Traffic Engagement
Conversions NPS/Likelihood to Recommend
Performance (page speed) Brand Attributes
Share of Voice/Market Position Categories Explored
Indexability Flow State/User Flow
Crawl Rates Micro-Conversions
Budgets Time on Site

SEO Measures:

SEO can help improve the user experience on your website by focusing on the following: speed, image optimization, pop-ups, easy-to-navigate menus, use of keywords, use of engaging multimedia, and improving cumulative layout shift.

UX Measures:

The following are some ways to measure the user experience on your website: usability, engagement, likelihood to recommend/NPS, brand attributes, categories explored, flow state, micro-conversion count.

Quantifying impact isn’t always obvious once you have completed the overall work.  However, if you can demonstrate an increase in organic traffic, improved engagement metrics (such as time on site, pages per visit, and conversion rates), or positive changes to your brand perception, you will be in a much better position to show the value of your aligning SEO and UX.

Here are some other ways to build out KPIs for this unique SEO/UX intersection to prove success:

  • Connect ranking to engagement: RankBrain is Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm that uses machine learning to help rank pages. By understanding how RankBrain works, you can connect engagement data (such as dwell time, CTR, and bounce rates) to your rankings to see if there is a correlation. If you see that ranking higher results in better engagement metrics, you can make the case that your efforts to improve the user experience are having a positive impact on your SEO.
  • Use A/B testing: Try out different versions of your website to see which one performs better in terms of engagement and conversions. This is a great way to measure the impact of changes you make to improve the user experience.
  • Monitor your brand mentions: Keep an eye on what people are saying about your brand online. If you see a positive shift in sentiment after making changes to improve the user experience, you can attribute this to your efforts.
  • Connect page performance to positive experiences: Use tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights to measure the performance of your pages. If you see an improvement in page speed after making changes to improve the user experience, you can credit your efforts.
  • Translate SEO metrics to UX: Following the above methods will help to improve user experience on a website, which in turn will help to improve SEO ranking. Remember, it’s important to focus on the user first and foremost – if they enjoy using your site, they are more likely to stay longer and come back again.

To support UX, SEO must:

  • Align on measurement goals:  Without common goals, it will be difficult to attribute success to either discipline.
  • Use the same data: The data you collect for your SEO efforts can also be used to inform your UX decisions. This helps to ensure that you are making changes that will have a positive impact on the user experience.
  • Speak a similar language:   By understanding the vocabulary and concepts used in both disciplines, you can ensure that everyone is on the same page.
  • Work together:  The best results will come from a team effort where both SEO and UX experts are working together towards a common goal.
  • Align on prioritization:   In order to focus on the most important tasks, it is important to agree on what is most important for each discipline.

Digital Goals and User Behaviors

Digital goals are actions and conversions you set. User behaviors are actions you want or expect users to take. To enable collaboration between UX and SEO teams, you must align on goals. Try these ideas:

Collaborate on Data

SEO and UX teams can work together to improve the user experience of a website by collaborating on data. This includes using A/B testing to compare different versions of a website, using search volume data to understand what users are looking for, and competitive research to see what other websites are doing well. By understanding how users interact with a website, both teams can work together to improve the user experience.

Build a Knowledge Base for SEO & UX

Creating an educational base for SEO and UX within your company can be a great way to improve collaboration between the two teams. This can be done by hosting 101 sessions around SEO and UX, or by creating a knowledge base that is easily accessible to employees. By providing employees with the tools they need to understand both disciplines, you can help to improve communication and collaboration between the two teams.

The Importance of Communication

It is important for both SEO and UX teams to communicate with each other in order to achieve the best results. This can be done by holding meetings to discuss goals, sharing data, and working together on projects. By communicating regularly, both teams can ensure that they are working towards the same goal and that the user experience is being improved.

Ask your collaboration team these questions:

  • Who is our target audience?
  • What are our preferred landing pages?
  • How do we analyze data to confirm who the winners are?
  • What are our top landing pages out of organic?
  • Does the current nav align to how the user should go through the pages; are there too many CTAs?

Putting It All Together

So now you have lots of things on your SEO to-do list in order to collaborate with UX/UI. What do we do with it all? Here are some quick wins for your team and some strategic guidance for taking next steps to align SEO and UX:

Quick Wins:

  • Optimize the right page for the right keyword improves engagement – define what should be below the fold on the page
  • 301 Redirect old pages to new ones – canonical tags can also be used
  • Ensure all images have alt-tags and titles – use keyword-rich descriptions
  • Develop content around user intent, not just keywords – think FAQs, HowTos, and guides
  • Incorporate structured data markup where possible – helps Google better understand your content
  • Leverage Google Search Console to identify issues and opportunities – use the information provided to improve the user experience
  • Use keyword mapping to guide strategy

Next Strategic Steps:

  • Don’t go all-in on any one tactic – test and measure to see what works best
  • Develop a holistic content strategy that includes keywords, user intent, and on-page optimization
  • Look for opportunities to use AI and machine learning to improve the user experience
  • Keep an eye on social media trends – how will they impact the user experience?
  • One change at a time – keep developments small to make tracking easier; avoid analysis paralysis
  • Track all changes, no matter how minor – non-SEO centric changes could impact your work (colors, buttons, etc), incremental elements could improve engagement
  • Primary nav is critical – ensure nav translates to devices and audiences, user search insights to help UX for nav
  • Secondary nav may be important for some sites – use heat mapping to see where users interact

Measuring SEO and UX Alignment Success

  • Define roles and responsibilities – align with web analytics; look at engagement metrics
  • Core web vials are a critical bridge between SEO and UX – create specifical collab OKRs; leverage page speed testing as a single source of truth
  • Create short and long term workstreams – SEO plus UX A/B testing can take time; quick wins can help build movement

Exploring Intent: A Deeper Dive

For many, a primary SEO goal (that definitely support UX) is ranking for Snippets, so we get asked for this quite a bit here at Red Branch Media. Here’s some advice I give our clients and my team. Consider…

  • “I want to know”: Find this info in the area where people also ask, check site links, anticipate the question with “People also ask” boxes on your own site, and research related topics.
  • “I want to go”: Give people what they’re looking for and make it easy for them to do so. This includes not just well-crafted content but also effective internal linking, breadcrumbs, and site navigation. I want to go – local 3 pack.
  • “I want something else” or I want to do (research mindset): Help people find what they’re looking for even if it’s not what you offer. This means providing related content, comprehensive search functionality, and effective site navigation. Leverage videos, images, quick asks.
  • “I want to buy” or I want to do (commercial mindset): This is where things like product images, carousels, customer reviews, and trust signals come into play. Make it easy for people to buy from you with clear calls-to-action, well-designed landing pages, and a smooth checkout process.

Building SEO Keyword Groups for UX

Create keyword groups for UX based on what people are looking to do when they visit your site. The following are a few examples:

  • Research
  • Plan/Organize
  • Create
  • Do/Implement
  • Watch/Learn
  • Buy/Sell

When you have these groups in place, it becomes much easier to craft RELEVANT and ENGAGING content that meets the needs of your target audience – which is exactly what a good user experience is all about.

Create page groups based on mindset to help UX

When it comes to user experience, one of the most important aspects you can focus on is creating page groups based on the mindset of your audience. This will help you to create content that is more relevant and engaging for them. You can group your pages exactly as we’ve delineated above.

Each of these groups will contain different types of content, which will help you to better meet the needs of your audience. For instance, if someone is in the Research mindset, you may want to provide them with in-depth information about the topic they’re exploring. If someone is in the Do/Implement mindset, you may want to provide them with step-by-step instructions on how to complete the task at hand.

Keep in mind that your keyword groups should carry through the platform in multiple ways. Not only should they be reflected in your content, but they should also be reflected in your site architecture, internal linking, and site navigation. This will help to ensure a consistent user experience across your entire site.

Meanwhile, UX teams can see what mindsets are rising and receding, helping the SEO team understand. They can help:

  • Connect pages to intents
  • Flag pages that don’t have a clear connection to an intent
  • Recommending changes in page titles, meta descriptions, and other on-page elements
  • Suggest new pages that could be created to target specific intents
  • Use preferred LPs to align on keywords and intents
  • Optimize landing pages for commercial intent
  • Define your page pathways, setting what pages should be the entry point for a visitor, and help funnel visitors to the most relevant page for their needs
  • Use PLP to define how users should enter the site from organic search
  • Orient keywords around intent
  • Avoidcaniabilization – update NEW pages and use your PLP

Tip: Preferred LPs can help UX teams understand if the intent of pages are resonating with Google (and ultimately the user)!

Following the above methods will help to improve user experience on a website, which in turn will help to improve SEO ranking. Remember, it’s important to focus on the user first and foremost – if they enjoy using your site, they are more likely to stay longer and come back again.

There are a lot of factors that go into creating a great user experience. However, by leveraging SEO and focusing on the needs of your target audience, you can create a much more compelling and attractive experience for all.

The ultimate goal is to create a user experience that meets the needs of your audience, which in turn will improve SEO ranking. One way to do this is by leveraging both SEO and UX processes for better B2B marketing. If you want help from an expert team that knows how to use behavioral neuroscience principles with digital marketing strategy, contact Red Branch Media.

The growth team at Red Branch Media are experienced content marketing strategists and have helped a variety of clients in a wide range of industries grow their online visibility and improve their user experience.