How UX and SEO Work Together in an eCommerce Website
Regardless of whether your interest is in digital marketing or building an effective eCommerce business, it won’t be long before you hear the acronyms UX and SEO.
Both of them have big impacts on how well an eCommerce website will perform, both in terms of online visibility and conversion rate optimization.
Here’s what you need to know.
What Are UX and SEO?
We have to walk before we can run and that requires an explanation of what these two things are.
In the case of UX, this is a condensation of “user experience.” UX, in sum, accounts for the holistic shopping experience your website produces.
A website with a good user experience will usually generate more time on page, pages per session, clicks, and of course, conversions and sales.
A website that produces a positive UX will also probably spread greater brand credibility, as it will seem both more professional and more legitimate.
It can be summatively good or bad, but there is no single piece you can look at. As a general rule, though, UX has to do with design, layout, security, and loading speeds. Instead of being one factor, UX is a collective of a variety of different features and traits that make a website look and feel either good or bad.
On the other hand, SEO, which stands for search engine optimization, is a collection of practices that improve factors known as “ranking signals” which are intended to improve the organic visibility of your website.
As with UX, there is no single factor you can look at, and there are many that are known (at least 200) but a website that has good SEO will rank higher in the organic search engine results pages, generating more visibility and clicks, and hopefully more conversions and sales.
A website that has “good” SEO will have better brand authority and recognition than one that doesn’t, and will also have a steadier stream of organic traffic from search engines like Google.
UX and SEO have some common ground as well as things that are unique to each. For instance, items like website loading speeds and security are considered elements of both. A website that loads quickly and has no broken features can be said to have good technical SEO and produce a good UX.
Some of these features are unique to each element of a digital footprint. For instance, the inclusion of keywords in the alt text fields of image files is good for SEO, as are backlinks that point to the host domain from a third-party website. These positively influence SEO but don’t really have any effect on UX.
Conversely, there are web page elements that markedly impact UX but which have little to no impact on SEO. For instance, a brand-integrated website design that looks modern, with contact information and cart or checkout pages prominently visible will be good for UX, but have effectively no impact on SEO.
Then again, it is also true that user interaction with a website can positively impact SEO, so on that front, there is some interrelationship between them. But overall, these features don’t really affect SEO.
How to Improve UX: Best Practices
So, now that you have a 50,000-foot view of what SEO and UX are, here are some best practices for eCommerce website user experience.
- Prioritize the mobile experience. A substantial number of users are now shopping on their mobile devices. Even if you have a stellar desktop design, you need to make sure that scales properly to fit the little screen. You can’t afford a 50% bounce rate from mobile users because your mobile UX is, to put it lightly, terrible. Conduct a mobile experience audit if necessary.
- Include user-friendly calls to action in your web page copy. These CTAs should be prominently featured in hero banners, footers, or on sidebars, be clearly marked with bright, contrasting coloring, and be clickable.
- Invest in developing a quick checkout process. Every single roadblock in the checkout process, from having to fill out lengthy forms, to hidden fees, is a chance for users to bounce, and they will. Your checkout process should be easy and straightforward and require minimal effort from your customers.
- Eliminate any requirements that force users to register before buying. Make sure there is a guest checkout process for those that aren’t.
- Navigation should be easy and there should be multiple options. A well-categorized mega menu and a search bar, at minimum, are ideal. Another good practice is to include navigable tiles to bestsellers from your homepage.
- On product pages, feature items that customers also buy along with the one they’re looking at. This will provide opportunities for cross-selling.
- Use high-quality product images. Take them in-house if possible or work with a professional photographer – or work with your customers to solicit user-generated images that you can use on your website.
- Capture customer reviews and display them prominently, not only on the product pages in question but also on the homepage. The overwhelming majority of online shoppers read reviews before buying so this can offer a big lift to UX.
- Ensure that all pages follow the same basic color scheme and branding design for UX continuity across the website.
- List contact information prominently on the homepage. Users need to be able to find the information needed to contact you if they have questions or concerns. This can make or break a conversion.
- Highlight any deals and promotions in the hero banner or elsewhere on your homepage and make the highlight navigable so users can immediately get to what you’re selling.
- Integrate your social channels if possible. This will encourage users to follow you and will help foster remarketing conversions.
Any and all of these items will help to improve your eCommerce website’s UX, and the more you put into practice, the more they will bolster your efforts.
So now let’s take a look at some SEO best practices to round this all out.
How to Improve SEO: Best Practices
While UX influences how users interact with your website and whether that experience is positive or negative, SEO will help them find you (organically) in the first place. The following are some SEO best practices, many of which will also support UX.
- Prioritize website loading speed. Loading speed is not only a ranking factor, but users are very likely to bounce from a website if it takes more than 2 seconds to load.
- Prioritize website security and implement an SSL if you don’t have one. This is a must, as it influences both UX and SEO and users are likely to bounce from a website that does not have one.
- Ditch duplicate content on product pages and write your own pursuant to a unique keyword strategy. Duplicate content will not help SEO (in fact it may hurt) and if it is ripped from a manufacturer’s website can harm UX because it seems cheap and disingenuous.
- Compress images to improve page load speeds. There are plenty of free tools you can use to do so.
- Include internal links on your product pages to other key products and bestsellers. This will improve both UX and SEO.
- Blog regularly and use those blogs as an opportunity to link to product pages. This will transfer authority from those blogs to your key pages and will improve organic visibility for both.
- Regularly create new content and update your blogs and CMS pages with new information that your customers will find useful (reflect on your recent engagements with them to brainstorm ideas for updates).
- Include target keywords in page titles, headers, and URL slugs, where possible. This little lift can substantially improve SEO and visibility.
- Monitor GSC for broken links and remove or redirect them wherever a sweep uncovers them. A 404 error is a death knell for SEO and pretty bad for UX, too.
- Add alt text to your image files, as this will provide a slight boost to SEO.
- Write unique meta descriptions for key pages, and include specific target keywords in each.
There are over 200 ranking signals, but most of the items mentioned here are easy to put into practice and can go a long way toward improving your overall organic footprint and visibility. Most of them can have a positive impact on UX, too.
Balancing UX and SEO for Success
Following some of these UX and SEO strategies will help you improve not only the UX design of your website but also help make your website attractive to search engine algorithms so that your website shows up higher in the search engine rankings.
Most importantly, creating a website with a delicate balance between UX and SEO is not rocket science. Outstanding user experience and a well-optimized website are within reach, and together they will help your website get found and encourage greater conversion value.