User Experience Optimisation, the end of SEO? Sort of.

james-authorJames Clifton (@cliffioo)

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SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) has often been thought of as using meta links and keywords to boost rankings on various search engine.

If you were to classify SEO metrics into three categories they may look as follows:

Top-level information
User experience measures
Technical SEO to take advantage of search engines

The top-level information part is simple. User Experience often gets talked about but sometimes can get pushed back in the list of priorities when it comes to SEO itself and finally Technical SEO can be benign or dangerous, but is invariably short-lived.

UXO (User Experience Optimisation) is all about creating quality content that is easy for the user to access, engage with and share. It’s as simple as that! No more stuffing keywords into areas that they don’t need to be, or repeating that phrase to try and make sure that the search engines pick it up. It’s about creating quality experiences for your users and getting them to interact with it, use it and hopefully, share it.

I don’t necessarily mean User Experience in the way of “is that button in the right place” or “is the search field visible”, although those things do help to create an overall more satisfying experience for the user, I mean is the content itself creating a better experience.

 

There are many factors that can affect UXO, including;

Does the content contain a deceptive or misleading title?
If your content isn’t what a user expects to see and this results in the user navigating away from your site, then the search engines and social networks will flag it as poor content because the user had a bad experience.

You need to make sure that the content is titled well, you need to make sure that the content is optimised for clicks, but not through deception or misleading the user as previously stated. Click through rates and users spending more time on your site with relevant content will be a factor in deciding if the content is worth displaying prominently on the relative platforms.

Is the content itself strong?
Not only are the initial click rates measured, but so are the scroll rates. Your ranking can be affected through a multitude of factors including whether a user has scrolled beyond the fold (the point at which the user’s browser cuts the content off at the bottom) and whether they reached the end of the article (or even did they watch all of the video?). These all affect the ranking that you will receive.

Of course the time on the site / page will also be measured (dwell time), this measurement even takes into account how fast the user scrolled through the page, meaning did they actually read it or skim it, and how long they stayed on the page in total.

The key points here are to create content that’s engaging, interesting and gives them a great experience.

Quality of writing and imagery
The quality of writing is self explanatory. If your content is written poorly with poor grammar and spelling, then there is a higher risk that a user will navigate away from your content due to the lack of quality, thus negatively affecting your score.

Also make sure that any imagery is relevant. People often browse the internet visually now, skimming through text for images until they find something they like and then reading the information that goes with it. User Experiences are always improved greatly with better quality imagery alongside great written content.

Performance
This is again a simple measure. Make sure that hosting is up to scratch, if a site takes too long to load, users won’t bother sticking around.

Shareability
If you follow the points made above, then this point should fall nicely into place. Interesting, well written, quality content will be shared, there’s no doubt about it. This will all come together to form a nice ranking score on the relevant platforms because users will be engaged with your content, thus spending longer on your site.

It really is simple. UXO is exactly what it says, User Experience Optimisation, making sure that the User Experience is as optimised as it can be. It doesn’t matter how many keywords there are or how many time you mention what your business does, as long as you make sure that all your content is of a high quality, interesting and everything on your site is done with the user in mind, you will rank higher. Save that money you were planning on ploughing into keywords and SEO and invest it in your site itself in creating a great user experience that is a pleasure to use and interests the user. Once you have great site that converts visitors into leads or sales, with regular, interesting content, then start looking to ramp up your external marketing activities.