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Why User Experience and Content Quality Are SEO, Too – Here’s Why #80


When checking off important tasks for optimizing SEO, user experience and content quality may not be high on the list, even if you care about those aspects for other good reasons (and you should!). But in this episode of Here’s Why, Eric Enge explains to Mark Traphagen why those two things should be included in any SEO strategy that seeks long term success. Full transcript after the video

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Mark: Eric, when most people think about SEO, if that’s something they think about at all, they probably think about things like keywords and tags and site structure and so forth. But things like user experience or content quality, they probably don’t see those as intrinsic to their SEO strategy, so why do you say they are a part of SEO?

Eric: Well, I think it’s important to understand that search engines like Google have become much more sophisticated in their methods of evaluating what should rank for a user’s query. At the end of the day, Google has to become like a surrogate researcher for all of us, but one that has to operate at an enormous scale and in microseconds. But the end result has to be something that real humans would consider high quality and useful, or they will stop using Google.

Mark: So that means they have to train their algorithm to recognize the kinds of things on a page that real humans want to see.

Eric: Exactly. We have very visible evidence on how much importance Google was placing on quality in the results with the famous Panda and Penguin updates. Those algorithms go after spammy and low-quality pages. If Google puts that much time and energy into catching the bad guys, as it were, it stands to reason that they’re also building algorithmic elements to reward the good guys.

Mark: So the good guys here being those who offer superior content quality and experience?

Eric: Exactly right. So for Google, it’s no longer just a question of which pages are more authoritative for a topic. That’s something that backlinks helped establish. But don’t get me wrong. Links have still very powerful ranking signals. We have a whole study that shows that. But Google has to go beyond that if it’s gonna make users happy. It has to be able to judge if the page has good, useful content and have features and information that a real user would want to see.

Mark: So I see. Now, let’s concentrate on user experience, okay? What are some elements that a page might want to have to provide the best possible experience for the visitor?

Eric: Well, one aspect that is particularly important for a sales page is linking to related products and services. For example, recently I was looking at a page on a site selling flowers. The page happened to be selling perennials, but what if I decided that I really wanted to look at annuals? There was no link on the page for their annual flowers, not only a missed opportunity but a negative experience for me as a user.
Other things users might wanna see on a sales page might be links to shipping information and a privacy policy. Notice that everything I’ve mentioned is something that the search algorithm could be programmed to check for. So not having those things could be a black mark against you from a ranking perspective. Think about it: two pages that offer the same product and have virtually the same authority. Which would you rather send users to, the one with all the features and information a user might want or the one without? The answer is obvious.

Mark: For sure. So to close out, how would you advise webmasters to approach their SEO based on this way of thinking?

Eric: Well, you’ve got to think beyond things like keyword research and title tags and approach each page on your site from the point of view of your potential users. Pretend that you’re a user looking for what the page offers and landing there for the very first time. What else might you be looking for? What elements would make you feel more secure and sure about this business? Also, it might be useful to survey some actual users and get their feedback.

Mark: Well, thanks, Eric. Now, for more about viewing content and user experience as part of your SEO strategy, be sure to watch Eric’s Moz Whiteboard Friday video. And just to provide you with a better user experience, we’ve provided a handy link at the end of this video to subscribe so you’ll never miss an episode of “Here’s Why.”

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Thoughts on “Why User Experience and Content Quality Are SEO, Too – Here’s Why #80”

  1. Excellent article!
    Content is king. Search engines like websites that have unique and interesting content. It is easy for websites to get good rank that have good content. The next thing you mentioned in the article is user experience. No doubt, great user experience leads to good leads and sale. From SEO point also it is very important.

  2. Hi Jenny. While we obviously agree that content quality is important to SEO, it’s also important not to exaggerate its effect. Having good, unique, useful content alone won’t guarantee you rankings. The other aspects of SEO, certainly links to the page chief among them, still matter too. SEO is always part of an ecosystem, and should never be reduced to one “magic feather.”

  3. Even if Google didn’t have its super advanced algorithms that are able to determine quality content from lousy content, quality content would still be important for SEO in the sense that quality content is more likely to generate “natural” links from your visitors. So in other words by creating quality content, you’re also indirectly building links to your site as well.
    The trick of course is getting visitors to that content in the first place – so hopefully you have some sort of social media foundation in place to drive the traffic there who will then give you those coveted “natural” links 😉

  4. SEO is important for increasing traffic to your site,Organic SEO brings long-term success in internet marketing but it takes time to see the result but having a quality content helps boost rank of the site, it should be relevant because search engines are smart enough today to understand what the page is all about.

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Mark Traphagen

Mark Traphagen was our Content Strategy Director for Perficient Digital until February of 2019. He has been named one of the most influential content and social media authors in numerous industry listings.

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