User experience and SEO share the same space, and therefore, must learn to get along. It’s not an easy relationship because pleasing both the search engines and users requires different approaches. What may look great in the design world can end up hurting SEO efforts, and vice versa.
In this post, we are going to discuss the most common tensions that exist between design and SEO and how to work through them to create powerful websites.
Page Consolidation vs Segmentation
Page consolidation is putting all of your user intents into a single page so that you can serve everyone from one central location. While this may work in a UX-only world, it cannot in a UX and SEO world.
Let’s say that you’re creating a page for transportation to the New York area. Everything a person would want to know about traveling to the city is on this page. However, many visitors will be searching on Google for what you provide and using different types of queries.
In order to serve these queries and the intents behind them, you need to create different pages. Page segmentation helps both user experience and SEO because you’re helping people find your information.
Internal Linking and Site Navigation
If you’re just thinking about design, your pages won’t need a lot of links. Or, you could anticipate the links that the typical user would follow. From an SEO standpoint, this won’t work. You need to create more navigation and more links that get people where they need to go.
Drop-down menus, sidebars and footers are all ways to improve navigation and tell the search engines what your website is about. These links also end up helping users because you can’t anticipate every need.
The use of keywords is a main source of tension because good keyword usage takes user intent into consideration while still looking natural. If you’re talking about transportation to NYC, that’s all you need to say in the design world. But for SEO purposes, you need to be clear about what your content is about.
To serve both design and SEO, create optimized versions of your pages that are designed specifically for the search engines. You could use words like taxi, Uber, Lyft, bus, streetcar, etc. to tell Google what your page is about.
A final tension that needs to be resolved is content that is enjoyable to read but also crawlable by the search engines. You can put together amazing content, but if it can’t be crawled by the search engines, it’s not going to rank well.
What you need is descriptive content. Help users navigate between pages using separate URLs with good anchor text. Also include various keyword targeting for each page.
The best websites are created when SEO strategist and web designers work in tandem. SEO professionals must realize that improving UX also improves SEO: the visuals, the design, the branding, the load speed, etc. On the other hand, UX professionals must recognize that the design needs to appeal to more than those who are already on the page.