How to Balance SEO and UX Best Practices on Your Website

Reading time8 minutes
Taher Batterywala
Taher Batterywala
Creative marketer who loves to write & design content that organically drives conversions, and creator of Pineable.

A website ranks due to multiple factors. Helpful and quality content, optimized structure, topical authority, faster loading speeds, low bounce rates, and much more.

If you look at what these websites have in common, you’ll see that apart from optimized content and structure, all of them provide an exceptional user experience. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but they are also easy to navigate, mobile friendly, and, most importantly, they load really quickly.

All of these characteristics imply the intricate relationship between SEO and user experience. (UX). In this article, we will explore how you can combine the best of both worlds to increase your rankings organically.

But let’s first understand why you need to establish a balance between the two.

Why Balancing SEO and UX is Important

The first question that would come to your mind would be - Does UX affect search rankings?Short answer - Yes.

Time and again, Google has stressed the importance of delivering the best experience possible to their users. Websites that offer exceptional UX are more likely to rank higher in search results.

Even though your content may be helpful and relevant, if your website is not user-friendly, people will just shut it down and switch to another one. This leads to very high bounce rates and also signals to Google that your website doesn’t match users' intent. Hence, it will push down the SERPs, and your rankings will decline.

A web page must optimize for these markers of quality UX design to become a user-friendly resource and bolster its search engine rankings. In this way, UX and SEO share a common goal: optimizing a website’s user experience.

Let’s look at some important UX metrics that SEOs analyze to understand user behavior:

  1. Dwell time: Time spent on the page before going back to the search results

  2. Bounce rate: No. of people exiting the website after visiting just one page

  3. User engagement: Where people go after navigating to your website

  4. Pages per session: How many pages people browse through during a single session

  5. Average session duration: Indicates the average time spent during one session

These metrics shouldn’t be viewed in isolation. SEO analysts should see the correlation between these metrics and try to make changes to the website for positive results.

For example, a higher dwell time and higher bounce rate should be analyzed in the context of the content of the page. If it's a homepage, then it’s not a positive sign, but if it’s a blog, it could be a good indicator that a user read the article and found what they were looking for.

Now that you have an idea of how UX and SEO are intertwined, let’s explore the best practices for implementing both together.

6 Practical Tips to Balance SEO and UX Best Practices

We give you six practical and easy-to-implement tips for creating a balanced website with SEO and UX best practices.

1. SEO Friendly Site Architecture

It all begins with laying down the foundation of an optimized site architecture.

Site architecture or information architecture essentially means the structure of your website - the items on your navigation menu and how they are linked together.

For example, for an enterprise software company, a website structure could look something like this:

the images shows the scheme of a website structure

Source: Freecodecamp

Now, when we say optimized architecture, it means, from an SEO perspective that search engines like Google can easily find and scan your page.

Optimizing site architecture and navigation involves:

  1. Grouping of pages into categories
  2. Creating a menu based on topics and subtopics
  3. Strategic internal linking for balanced link juice distribution

One important aspect of site architecture is navigation. A simple navigation design helps users find the information they’re looking for.

2. Page Layout and Design

A well-designed page layout and blog design have a direct impact on visitor behavior and are crucial in following SEO practices too. It helps the user find the right information, comprehend it easily, and take the desired action. As for search bots, structured content allows them to better assess a page’s relevance.

You should organize content in digestible, SEO-friendly formats that utilize bullets, lists, headings, table of contents, and imagery. Add links to useful related content and strategically place CTAs that will help facilitate the user journey within your website.

For headers, ideally, you should always have only one H1 per page, and for the hierarchy, use H2s to H6s. Avoid placing bigger headings under smaller ones. For instance, H2s shouldn’t be a part of a section under H3.

Blog post structure

Here’s how we have laid out our blog:

JivoChat blog page

3. Improve Page Loading Speed and Core Web Vitals

Page speed measures how fast content loads on a page. It is affected by theme and plugin installations, a website’s coding and server-side scripts, and the volume of images, videos, and additional media files on the website.

Google measures page speed based on core web vitals (CWV). These include the first screen loading time, ease of interaction, and visual stability.

Google core web vitals

Source: Google Search Central

To check your website’s core web vitals, head over to Google Page Speed Insights and drop your website URL.

Google page speed insights

Source: Google Page Speed Insights

Lower the CWV score, lower would be your page speed and subsequently, higher the bounce rate. Users don’t like to wait much, and if your website is too slow to load, they will eventually drop off.

Here are some things you can do to make your website load faster:

  • Make sure the images you use have defined dimensions
  • Optimize media i.e. images and videos (Use WEBP for images and WEBM for videos)
  • Enable lazy loading of images
  • Reduce unused javascript and minify them
  • Don’t add heavy design elements like HQ videos, too many images or GIFs on a page

4. Mobile Responsive Design

As per the latest statistics, nearly 60% of internet users browse using mobile devices. This makes designing using a mobile-first approach inevitable.

Responsive design means your website should automatically adapt to different screen sizes without affecting the user experience. All content should be easy to read, and elements should be appropriately laid out.

The image shows a comparative responsive design test on real devices

Source: BrowserStack

A mobile-friendly website should also include the following:

  • Reasonably big buttons
  • Pinch to zoom
  • Simple menus
  • Visible search box

The best practice is to keep font size to a minimum of 16 pixels and divide a larger content chunk into smaller, digestible sections or paragraphs.

To check whether your website is mobile-friendly, you can use a tool like SEO Optimer’s Website Mobile and Tablet Responsiveness Tester, which provides a detailed analysis of what needs to be fixed.

5. Internal Linking

Internal linking is often ignored and still remains an underutilized SEO strategy. Having internal links helps search engines understand the relationship between different content on your site, improves the flow of link juice, and can enhance user experience by making navigation easier.

One of the most popular website navigation structures from both SEO and UX perspective is a flat hierarchy. Here, every page is 3-4 clicks away from the home page and can be discovered through internal links.

Accessible multi-level-dropdown navigation

Source: Qualroo

The number of internal links pointing to a page indicates its significance. Pages with no internal links pointing to them are much less likely to get indexed.

Make sure that your important pages are accessible through internal links, and use descriptive anchor text that gives an idea of the linked content.

6. Optimizing for Conversions

What good is a website and its content, if it can’t convert your users into qualified leads? The end goal of having a well-designed structure and optimizing for search is to increase conversions. And UX is one of the deciding factors to achieve the same.

If the user feels comfortable navigating through your website and enjoys its design, they are more likely to convert. Hence, it’s highly recommended to place CTAs in the right and obvious locations, such that they intuitively click on them.

On the other hand, UX "mistakes" such as non-responsive design, difficult navigation, lack of CTA buttons, low loading speed, and inconvenient functionality can negatively impact conversion rates.

Considering that the ultimate goal of UX and CRO is to increase the number of loyal customers, it is crucial for them to work together. Combining UX and CRO creates a compelling customer experience that enhances conversions without compromising usability.

Wrapping Up

Users always appreciate and trust a website that provides a good user experience and matches their search intent. Not only users, but search engines also judge your website based on how well it is optimized and designed.

If you want to maintain a good ranking in the search results, you need to keep visitors on your website. And, if you want to keep visitors on your website, you need to provide a good user experience.

All in all, you need to have a balance between UX and SEO, and these above practices will help you make improvements to your website and ultimately achieve top positions on the SERPs.

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