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How UX complements SEO to improve conversion strategy

Categories: Performance UX

In this article, we look at the significant impact user experience (UX) can have on SEO and your conversion rates.

Your SEO strategy might be bringing in plenty of traffic but what are those visitors actually doing when they land on your website? Your marketing objectives revolve around user actions and conversion types; purchases, downloads, email signups etc.

Creating a user experience that encourages visitors to complete those actions is crucial. Fail to do this and it’s not only your conversion rates that suffer, but also your search ranking. Poor engagement metrics associated with low conversions (high bounce rates, low time on page etc) tell Google your pages aren’t delivering what users want.

Performance UX vs SEO

While SEO is one of the most important long-term strategies for bringing traffic to your website, high visitor counts alone don’t pay the bills. To achieve those marketing objectives, you need visitors to take profitable actions on your website. This requires a different set of skills to traditional search optimisation.

To turn traffic into valuable leads and paying customers, your website should be incrementally optimised for conversions. Without performance in mind you’re effectively building a brochure for your brand, not a lead generation machine.

UX design plays a crucial role in creating high-converting experiences, breaking down barriers to conversion and enabling users to convert more easily than ever. Forrester research shows positive user experiences can increase conversions by up to 400%, reduce page abandonment by 41% and “greatly reduce the need for extensive [and expensive] redesign and redevelopment”.

venn diagram showing relationship between SEO, PPC and UX
The impact of Performance UX on search marketing

Marketers who take UX optimisation seriously know that no amount of best practice and design theory can tell you what kind of experience your specific users are going to respond to. To make matters worse, the expectations of your target audiences are going to change over time, which means the experience you deliver needs to adapt and keep meeting those expectations.

Just look at how much Google adapts its search engine algorithms to address changing user trends, let alone how the design has evolved over time.

Performance UX is an ongoing, data-driven optimisation strategy that helps you create experiences based on insights from your users and broader target audiences. This runs alongside your SEO and wider digital marketing efforts, constantly gathering data and pinpointing new opportunities to increase conversion rates. Instead of making drastic design changes, Performance UX allows you to make incremental design improvements so your UX is constantly aligned with user expectations, no matter how they change.

Understanding the relationship between UX and SEO

The easy way to explain this relationship would be to say that SEO brings visitors to your website and Performance UX helps convert them into leads and/or customers. However, the link between UX and SEO is far more complex than that, particularly when you consider the number of usability factors that impact your search ranking.

Here are just some of the UX essentials Google’s search algorithm looks at:

  • Navigation
  • Behavioural metrics; bounce, avg time on site, page views
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Site speed
  • Secure encryption
  • Popups and interstitials
  • Content accessibility
  • Content quality
  • Content formatting (headings, paragraphs, sentence length etc)
  • Content readability

The easy way to explain this relationship would be to say that SEO brings visitors to your website and Performance UX helps convert them into leads and/or customers.

While these are indirect UX metrics in Google’s algorithm, the search giant can look at all of these factors combined to assess how positive the UX of your site is. Google has made some headway into UX-led algorithms with “Page Layout” and “Top Heavy” going back as far as 2012 so it’s possible that UX does play a key role in organic visibility. Google also looks at a number of user signals that build up an overall picture of how usable your website is – bounce rates, pages visited, time on page, etc as well as using Chrome data to measure site speed.

Websites that perform poorly across these UX factors aren’t going to attract the traffic volumes they could – and you can’t convert visitors you don’t have.

Now, it’s important that Google’s UX demands aren’t as strict as yours should be. Ranking high in search and attracting high volumes of traffic does not necessarily mean you’re providing an experience that maximises conversions and other important KPIs.

Stronger experiences, stronger results

Performance UX essentially combines user experience design and conversion rate optimisation (CRO) into an ongoing, data-driven strategy to constantly improve the experience of using your website. This isn’t optimisation purely for the sake of UX design, everything is geared towards maximising conversions and achieving your marketing objectives.

Building strong user experience should be baked into your website from the start by identifying personas, mental modelling and journey mapping. This doesn’t mean that your existing site requires a complete redesign though; our Performance UX specialists can work with you to incrementally improve your conversion rate over time, ensuring a cost-effective solution for your business.

Call us on 02392 830281 if you’d like to find out more or send us your details and we’ll call you.

Sam Osborne has worked in digital marketing for more than ten years and, prior to joining Vertical Leap as a Campaign Delivery Manager, worked as head of digital for a digital media agency.

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