What Role Does UX Play in SEO?

In today’s digital economy, SEO is everything. A higher rank means more traffic, leads and, presumably, revenue. But you cannot make the mistake of thinking that breaking the first page on a Google search can be credited to some secret sauce. Rather, your ranking is determined by hundreds of variables, a large majority over which your organization can maintain control.

With so many variables to consider, it might feel overwhelming to try and address every consideration at once. An alternative option is to make the types of fundamental changes that will have a broader impact. One such factor is user experience.

While it would be easy to assume that UX is just about providing your customers with a satisfactory experience when they use your website or application, the reality is that UX plays a much more critical role in determining the efficacy of your search engine optimization strategy than you may have realized.

A study conducted earlier this year between three separate SEO organizations isolated the four most important ranking factors that drive search results today: content, backlinks, mobile-first user experience and technical factors.

The link between UX and SEO is clear in the case of taking a mobile-first mindset to development. Today, Google’s index primarily crawls the mobile version of websites rather than the desktop version. But Google itself has warned that a broken or incomplete site can actually become a detriment to your search ranking. In order to capitalize on this shift, you must be sure to deploy a site that adheres strictly to sound UX principles and functions seamlessly from the start.

When it comes to content, which was named the most important search factor, UX plays a sizeable role again. Google’s algorithm has slowly transitioned away from keyword-stuffing in favor of informative, useful and original content. And while the words themselves are important, the placement of content is also imperative. Using UX principles, you’ll be able to place content in a way that will promote an ideal path for your customers. This will ensure that they’re not bombarded with information before they’re ready to receive it, or conversely, that they can easily access the right information at the right time.

Though Google now has processes for ignoring erroneous links, backlinking continues to be an imperative part of your ranking. A large reason for the continued relevance of backlinking is social media. The ability to move users across channels and ultimately into your sales funnel continues to become a more powerful tool the more users flock to social sites and apps. But links alone cannot create a seamless experience for users moving from one platform to another. UX can create continuity and consistency across channels to make sure that users keep moving forward as they move from link to link.

Also considered to be an imperative ranking factor, technical elements like encryption, anchor text and interstitials are all driving SEO today. These elements speak to the building blocks of your app or website, and as such, it is critical to have a UX-centric development and design team from the start of your projects. This will ensure that technical requirements are aligned with your design goals and larger corporate initiatives without creating a need for costly overhauls down the road.

To learn more about how Uptop’s UX team can help your organization start to climb the search rankings, review our approach.