The Intersection of SEO and User Experience - Part 2

19 March 2013

 

San Antonio:

 

Write Content for Users and the Search Engines

As any webmaster with at least a basic understanding of SEO knows, content is king. Content does your website a number of SEO favors—from increasing the odds that your site will be indexed for a particular target keyword to aiding your chances of ranking highly by improving your overall “freshness” score. And for the most part, it should be obvious that adding high-quality content to your site on a regular basis goes a long way towards improving the user experience on your site as well.

 

That said, confusion occurs when it comes to how this content should be written in order to maximize its SEO effectiveness. The days of keyword density playing a role in SEO rankings has long since passed, and yet, many webmasters still believe that they need to create paragraphs like the ones below in order to secure the top spots in the natural search results pages:

 

When it comes to keyword inclusion, it’s a good idea to include your target keyword in your page title, headline tag and body content, but don’t include more than one instance in any of these areas. More than this simply isn’t necessary when it comes to SEO (in fact, doing so could put your site at risk of an over-optimization penalty) and risks annoying your readers to the extent that they leave your site and never return.

 

Repeat after me: High-quality, natural-sounding website content benefits both my readers and the search engine spiders!

 

Avoid Flash

Can we all make an agreement to simply stop using this outdated technology? Here’s the thing…

 

Although search engines have come a long way in their ability to recognize and parse the content found within Flash objects on websites, the still aren’t able to process this information correctly 100 percent of the time. So at best, you’ve filled up your site with content that the search engines can’t understand. At worst, though, you’ve diminished the overall SEO effectiveness of your site by including important information in a format that the search engines can’t process correctly.

 

And don’t even try to tell me that Flash is necessary for your user experience! We’re long since passed the days when website visitors were impressed by every moving object and animated experience you could cram into your site. These days, people want information ASAP, which means that they don’t want to waste time sitting through the minute-long Flash splash page or presentation your Web team is so proud of.

 

So yes, while I know it’s possible to work around the SEO weaknesses that Flash presents, my point is that there’s no reason to. Users don’t want to deal with these animations, so do everybody a favor and eliminate them from your website entirely.

 

Incorporate Microdata Markup into Your Pages

One final intersection between SEO and the user experience that you’ll want to be aware of is the impact that microdata usage can have on your website’s performance.

 

When it comes to SEO, microdata—particularly those that follow Schema.org protocols—can be incredibly useful when it comes to providing the search engines with extra data about your site’s purpose and intent. As an example, adding the system’s “itemtype” tag to your page’s HTML could allow you to clarify that your page on “Pride & Prejudice” refers to the original book, not the recent movie.

 

As a result, the search engines that are able to interpret this structured data could serve your site up for more relevant search result placements than sites without this additional information.

 

As you might expect by this point in the article, users benefit from the addition of microdata as well. In many cases, especially that of the “rel=author” tag, structured data provides additional information that can be displayed alongside a site’s listing in the natural search results.

 

Not only does this extra data help users to make more informed search decisions, these enhanced displays have a notable impact on SERPs click-through rates, increasing the likelihood that a search user will wind up on your page over a competitor’s.

 

As you can see, there are plenty ways in which SEO and user experience objectives can work together to create a website that’s both engaging to read and easy to rank in the natural search results. However, if you ever identify a potential conflict between the two, keep in mind that your first priority is to the user. While SEO best practices may come and go over time, making a commitment to serve your user first will never go out of style

 

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