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SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION

SEO has evolved to be more about the user than the search engine

By our News Team | 2021

Search engines aim to give users a seamless experience to your website. So your site must be up to standard or face the consequences.

Contrary to popular belief, SEO is all about the user. There is a misconception that SEO is for search engines and if you want to rank higher you must cater to what search engines want.

But, says digital media agency Sprout Performance Partners, that is not entirely true. Search engines are there for the user, so that means SEO is for the user too.

“The purpose of a search engine is to give users a seamless experience to your website and if a website is not up to Google or search engine standards, then you stand to lose your rankings and customers. That’s why SEO is more of a search experience enhancing tool than anything,” the agency explains.

Search engine optimisation

Image by Diggity Marketing from Pixabay

The need to focus on the website user

Yes, SEO has technical elements to it, but all of them work together with content to give users what they want. That’s why any good SEO strategist will tell you that your focus should be on your user. What is it that they want on your website, how are they interacting with your website, how long are they staying, and what’s their experience like? All these should be things to think about when coming up with a good SEO strategy for every website.

Google, for example, uses elements such as like machine learning to provide better answers to users based on what your web page is about. 

That’s where SEO meets user experience. If you create content that is relevant and use keywords contextually then you should experience better rankings. Essentially you are moving from focusing on keywords, but rather creating content with keywords that are relevant to your user. You are not including keywords for the sake of rankings but for the sake of the user. 

Long gone are the days where you can negatively manipulate Google bots without consequence, Sprout warns.

Algorithm updates, UX and SEO
The agency says Google has advanced in grasping natural language and trying to provide users with accurate results. That’s where algorithms come in. Google introduced algorithm updates to regulate websites and provide users with trustworthy, relevant and high-quality results.

Algorithms like Rankbrain and Bert help Google understand natural language and user intent. They are designed to better understand what people are looking for and how to best give them accurate answers to their queries. 

Another SEO update that focuses on UX is the Core Web Vitals update. With an introduction to Core Web Vitals, Google has changed the game, Sprout says.

With a focus on measuring a user’s experience on the website, Google has combined SEO and UX to create an algorithm that directly puts the user at the forefront. Core Web Vitals focus on the load speed, layout and responsiveness of your website.

SEO + UX = Great User Experience
SEO and UX have a common goal: user engagement and ensuring that your user has a great experience on the website. The greater the user experience on your website, the better your rankings. UX looks at your mobile friendliness, content, page speed and architecture amongst other things. But if you are to look closely then you’ll see that all these are SEO elements to ensure a healthy and high-ranking website.

“A great user experience encourages [consumers] to share your content on social media, visit your website frequently and engage more with your content,” Sprout says. “Essentially, that sends positive quality signals to Google and, as a result, Google will reward you with a better ranking position.”

Excellent Core Web Vitals scores help with better rankings now, but that could change in the future. UX could very well become the key ranking factor in years to come – the direction of organic positions and SEO is leaning towards demanding the best possible user experience.

Source: Sprout Performance Partners

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