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User Experience Is Becoming a Part of SEO – Here’s Why #219

UX Is a part of SEO

User experience is becoming a part of SEO, but why does Google want to use it as a signal in their algorithm?

In this episode of the award-winning Here’s Why digital marketing video series,  Brian Weiss explains how Google is using user experience to rank pages.

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Brian: User experience is becoming part of SEO. Here’s why. Hey, Eric.

Eric: Hey, Brian.

Brian: I have a question for you.

Eric: Okay, what’s that?

Brian: Would you rather have a website that was magically guaranteed to rank number one for every query, or a website that was guaranteed to convert every visitor who came to the site?

Eric: Okay. Now, you’re going to tell me you’re the magical genie who can grant me these wishes.

Brian: That is what it says on my business card.

Eric: It seems like you could do pretty well in either situation, but I bet you have a point of view on this, don’t you?

Brian: I’m glad you asked. If I had a website that converted every visitor, I can get it to rank number one for everything. And as an SEO, I’m probably not supposed to say this, but if you can’t convert visitors to your site, you don’t have anything to optimize.

Eric: But you seem to think that converting customers in itself will lead to better SEO results?

Brian: No, not so directly as that.

Eric: But if you’re satisfying 100% of visitors, you’re probably creating some excellent signals for relevance and overall user experience that maybe Google would be interested in.

Brian: Right, and SEO gives us an interesting lens to look at user experience through.

Eric: It is certainly what Google is trying to optimize for. They want to send users to what they think is the best experience for them.

Brian: Yes, and if you think about how they’re doing that over time, using human ratings to feed their machine learning algorithms, then over time, they may come up with some very interesting signals that we wouldn’t necessarily think of as traditional SEO factors.

Eric: That’s certainly possible. But as SEOs, how do you think we should best use that information?

Brian: I think there are two parts to answering that question. First of all, we can look to the Google results themselves to get clues about what elements Google thinks are important for answering user needs for a particular query.

Eric: That’s where something like our semantic content optimization tool, that analyzes content on the top-ranking pages compared to yours and tells you what your page might be missing, would actually come in really handy.

Brian: Exactly, those are the pages that Google thinks are doing the best job of providing relevant answers to the largest percentage of user needs. Ideally, you’d go beyond what they’re doing, but you don’t want to just copy your competition.

Eric: Got it. It’s hard to beat the competition if all you’re doing is copying them.

Brian: Right, but it’s good to know what your starting point should be.

Eric: Didn’t you say there was a second consideration related to how SEO should respond to Google optimizing the results for user experience?

Brian: Yes, I did say that.

Eric: Are you testing me here, Brian, or what?

Brian: Exactly, Eric, user testing. Now, would you say that you just had a bad experience?

Eric: Yes, I might say that.

Brian: Okay, that’s excellent feedback. I won’t give any more passive aggressive answers.

Eric: So, user testing.

Brian: Yes, doing user testing for conversion rate, bounce rate and time on site—on the one hand, it’s just basic due diligence at this point, given the impact it can have on revenue. But I think it also can help to avoid some of the SEO pitfalls for those not-so-obvious indicators that Google may start using over time, through developing their own user testing and machine learning operation. If users love your site, you definitely have a better chance of Google seeing it as a user-friendly destination.

Eric: Of course, that user engagement will create signals that Google does pick up on over the long run.
Brian: For sure.

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Eric Enge

Eric Enge is part of the Digital Marketing practice at Perficient. He designs studies and produces industry-related research to help prove, debunk, or evolve assumptions about digital marketing practices and their value. Eric is a writer, blogger, researcher, teacher, and keynote speaker and panelist at major industry conferences. Partnering with several other experts, Eric served as the lead author of The Art of SEO.

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