The Internet as we now know it started to take shape in 1990, when computer scientist and engineer Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. Over the years the online landscape has evolved and changed, particularly when it comes to e-commerce. Today, potential customers on the Internet go online already with an idea of what they want, or at least with a plan to find out what the best course of action is. Browsings habits have been formed, as well as expectations when it comes to using online stores or content-based websites. Search engines in particular are a huge part of this; algorithms and interpretations of search terms all play a part in how information is displayed and disseminated to its users. On the flip side, online businesses have adapted, as well. SEO and UX are proof of this, and together, they work to grow thriving businesses.
What are SEO and UX?
First things first, a definition of terms.
SEO is search engine optimization, which is the process by which the visibility and placement rank of a website link is raised in results of search engine functions. Many strategies and methods fall under this umbrella term; including canonical linking, cross linking, and constant content updates.
UX is user experience, which refers to customers’ attitudes and emotions brought about by using a specific product or service. In terms of Internet transactions and interactions, it particularly relates to users’ perceptions of a website or online store’s efficiency and ease of use, as well other things like content or inventory variety and customer service.
How Are SEO and UX Different?
The divide is obvious from the definitions. Many older and very experienced SEO and UX experts tend to think of themselves as opposites when it comes to their jobs’ end goals.
SEO strategies can seem very business-centric; focused on conversion rates, increasing traffic and other boardroom-ready goals.
UX concerns typically side with customer needs–many projects don’t directly turn a profit or improve numbers quickly, and can seem like large expenses.
Tension and friction between SEO and UX sides can be inevitable; especially if they are separated into different departments and competing for budgetary considerations. However, that approach is quickly becoming ancient history. Many online strategists are realizing that with the rise of user-focused digital marketing, and the continued evolution of search engine algorithms based on user experience, SEO and UX are turning out to be two sides of the same coin.
What Goals Do SEO and UX Have in Common?
The bottom line is that every business wants to make money–and since SEO and UX have developed alongside businesses that have adapted to the online landscape, it follows that their common goal is increased profits.
What can be done to reach that goal consistently? It doesn’t matter what specific commercial industry your website is under. As long the online presence is used to build a brand, connect with customers, provide services, or sell content and products, you need a good balance of SEO and UX to drive people to your website and then keep them interested once they’re there. It’s a two-pronged approach that’s just common sense to implement.
SEO and UX teams can work together to improve and develop an online product for maximum returns, rather than competing internally and eclipsing each other’s achievements. An atmosphere that invites collaboration between the two will not only ease work relations, but important partner and customer relations, as well.
How Exactly Do SEO and UX Affect Each Other?
While SEO ensures that visitors get to a website, UX is there to encourage those visitors to turn into customers. While SEO elevates the possibility of a user choosing one website over many others, UX makes sure that the website is presentable, pleasant, fit for desktop or mobile, and free of distractions. In short, they are each responsible for different parts of a user’s journey from the initial spark of interest to a complete sale or conversion.
A slight shift in perspective will uncover the intertwined relationship between the two: Driving traffic to a website is useless if it won’t result in sales or conversions; and even the best website interface and design are useless if no one goes there in the first place.
Additionally, SEO research and information affect UX strategies. For instance, SEO works by identifying keywords and other markers that lead to content that will attract users that they’ve previously identified as targets of their approach. Theoretically, this should be the basis of content that is optimized and published on the website. This same data is also useful for UX experts.
When UX develops and designs with a firm knowledge of what its prospective audience searches for and wants to find–and, in the case of a set of different targets, at what percentage each part of the audience lies–effectiveness increases. There’s less trial and error, and adjustments after launch will be limited. An easy analogy would be buying a gift selected from someone’s existing wish list; you already know that the person wants it, so that’s what you give them.
Now, let’s turn that around: UX design also definitely impacts SEO. Yes, SEO data illustrates user trends and allows marketing a huge insight when it comes to what users want. However, it does not take into account the effects of the intricacies of user-website interactions and statistics generated thereof. Because UX plays a big part in visitors’ duration browsing the website and eventual conversion, it follows that it is instrumental in improving the website’s consumer-based ratings regarding relevance and trust. Websites that load faster and are easier to use will also tend to ranker higher.
The lesson here is that when SEO and UX share and share alike, each side improves in leaps and bounds and contribute to a greater competitive advantage overall.
What Are the Next Steps in SEO and UX to Ensure Continued Growth?
The next step is always to evolve whenever it is needed. The essential collaboration between SEO and UX was an evolution in itself, but as a strategy this is far from static. It will need to grow and change as potential customers grow and change and variate behaviors and engagements with the website and the business it represents.
The work is never done, the approach is never final. There will never be a final iteration of a website, unless the business it is serving no longer looks to it for continued growth. The best part is that with SEO and US trading information, stronger and more dynamic evolutionary strategies will be developed and implemented faster.
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