SEO – or search engine optimisation – makes your webpage more visible on search engines in order to drive greater traffic to your business and generate a higher conversion rate. But what about search experience optimisation?
SEO is standard practice in the world of digital marketing. But focussing exclusively on a webpage’s content at the expense of a user’s experience has its drawbacks. That’s where search experience optimisation (SXO) comes in.
What is search experience optimisation?
In SEO, it’s the search engine that ultimately determines a webpage’s rank and position. To be clear, nailing your SEO strategy is critical to a business’s online presence and success. But having a more holistic approach that also integrates search experience optimisation is a way of catering to the more formulaic demands of search engines’ algorithms whilst still taking account of the user experience.
It’s for this reason that many SEO professionals consider SXO an integral component of their practice – and might not even distinguish between the two.
SXO recognises that the user experience of a site is as important as its authority and relevance. As greater swathes of the population become digital natives, users want to have a good experience on a site, and the provision of accurate, reliable information is only part of overall experience.
‘Gaming’ a website according to algorithmic data might mean you nail your SEO, but it might also result in a webpage that’s unreadable and inaccessible to a human. SXO recognises that, ultimately, you have to appeal to the human users conducting searches for your product or service, beyond the algorithms of search engines.
How to improve your SXO
We all know how frustrating it is when pages don’t load quickly enough, when sites aren’t optimised for mobile browsing, or if a website just doesn’t have a logical flow or structure. Integrating SXO into the build and design of a site is a way of avoiding these user irritations – and these are a few key steps that you can take to improve it…
Ensure your website is navigable
If your website just isn’t usable, you’re going to score low on your SXO. Any website needs to be easily navigable and accessible in order to have high usability. You also need to ensure that you have a good page load speed.
On top of that, your website should be optimised for mobile – particularly if the product or service you provide responds to a user’s burning need (for example, if you’re a plumber). Sites that aren’t mobile optimised will cause users to immediately bounce away, as over half of global web traffic is now conducted on mobile.
Understand your user’s search intent
It’s worth taking time to brainstorm exactly why your audience is turning to your business. You need to create content that is relevant and responds to their needs, avoiding ‘fluff’ or material that just regurgitates the same content as other businesses. Quality, creative content that responds to user search and directs users to other reputable sources of information is the name of the game.
Recognise that searches have become more conversational – particularly with the rise of voice search – meaning that longtail key phrases are more appropriate than ever. If you’re able to answer a specific question asked in a user search, you’re likely to rank higher with search engines. Be aware of the ‘people also asked’ data, as well as other snippets, and ensure that you respond accordingly.
Packing keywords in without taking account of how a human speaks won’t cut it – it’s about identifying your audience’s needs and responding to them with clarity, authority and relevance.
Use social media
Depending on your company’s product or service, social media may not be your main business tool in driving conversions. But it is important for the holistic experience of SXO, and indicates to search engines whether or not you deliver a good user experience.
Using social media to link back to relevant content on your site is a great way of demonstrating your authority, relevance and expertise.
Stay nimble and make the most of metrics
SXO is not a ‘set it and forget it’ pursuit – you need to remain agile and flexible in your approach in order to ensure that you stay on top of your game.
One of the best ways to do this is by remaining in touch with user metrics. Google Analytics is freely available for use and provides significant amounts of data to tell you whether you’re delivering a positive user experience. Once you’ve established user behaviour trends, you can use A/B testing to iterate and improve your SXO strategy.
How to measure your SXO
As specified above, you need to constantly monitor and adjust for user behaviour. Making use of metrics is one of the best ways to do so, including:
1. Bounce rate
If your bounce rate is consistently high, it demonstrates that users are quickly leaving your website, and you’re therefore not responding to user search needs.
Search engines will consequently assume that you’re delivering a poor user experience and will penalise you accordingly.
2. Time spent onsite
If a user remains on the webpage for a long time after you direct them to it, it’s clear that you’re responding to their needs.
3. Click through rate (CTR)
This metric demonstrates how much traffic you’re generating from a SERP link – the higher the better. Low CTRs typically indicate issues with meta tags, content, or your advertisements.
4. Conversion rate
If this is increasing as a result of organic traffic being directed to your site, it likely demonstrates the success of your SXO, as you’re bringing in new customers by responding to their targeted searches.
Improve your SXO with Rapport Digital
With over ten years’ worth of experience working with some of the top companies across Bristol and Somerset, Rapport Digital can ensure that your business is seen by the people you need. We’ll combine our tried-and-tested SEO and SXO strategies with our holistic approach to marketing in order to deliver on any campaign.