The 3 Golden Rules of SXO
As competition for web traffic continues to accelerate, it’s important to stay ahead of the SEO game by focusing on user experience.
As companies continue their inexorable transition to online business, competition for the coveted places at the top of Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) is becoming increasingly more difficult and complex.
Google – which undoubtedly holds an overwhelming dominance in global web searches – is constantly tweaking and updating the ways it ranks websites in searches.
Google also doesn’t tend to make its precise and intricate ranking criteria public knowledge, leaving Search Engine Optimization (SEO) specialists the task of deciphering how best to structure web content largely through trial and error.
Over the last few years, a new approach to SEO has emerged: Search Experience Optimization (SXO).
We have already discussed the basics of what SXO is, and some of the key ways it can be considered and used in the development, structuring and presentation of web content.
Due to the fast-changing nature of the SEO landscape, the most important tenet of SXO to remember is that User Experience is King.
But beyond that, what are some of the concrete steps you can take to ensure you are optimizing your User Experience, and by extension your search rankings?
In today’s article, we’ll be exploring some of the Golden Rules to follow for ensuring that your website is always ranking high from an SXO perspective.
1. Understand (and use) Analytics
The most effective way for understanding how users interact with your website is by collecting, analyzing and applying usability metrics for your website.
Key metrics to look out for:
- are Clickthrough Rate (CTR),
- Dwell Time,
- and Bounce Rate.
The CTR measures the proportion of users that actually click on the search result of your page on a SERP. You can check what kind of queries are leading visitors to your page using Google’s Search Console. From there, it is a matter of optimizing your pages’ meta descriptions and tags to better reflect the search queries and higher CTRs of other search results.
Similarly, Dwell Time indicates the amount of time users spend on a page they have clicked through to, with longer times associated with better and more rewarding engagement.
Conversely, Bounce Rate indicates that visitors have accessed your website, not liked what they have seen (possibly due to long loading times, or other presentation and content issues) and decided to leave without interacting with other pages.
If you have a high Bounce Rate, you should try and optimize your calls to action (CTAs) and try to entice users to visit other parts of your site through optimized UX design and content propositions.
If your website is being navigated extensively by users, this generally means that they find the content engaging, and Google will reward you with higher places in search results.
2. Create (and categorize) Content by Intent
It is very often the case that content is created in a way that is designed to reflect the ideas a company has about itself, rather than what the company’s potential customers want to access.
The best way to remain focused on producing content that serves the needs of users is to categorize all content according to intent.
For example, web content can be divided into these three intent categories:
- Navigational content (looking for something else)
- Transactional content (looking to buy a product or service)
- Informational content (discovering information)
By understanding the intent of your content, you will be able to better optimize that content according to the web searches people are making to serve those intents.
For example, if people are searching for ‘how to cook rice’ more than ‘how to choose rice’, but your web page only describes the latter, then it’s probably best to alter your content focus to better serve a wider search intent.
3. Test, Test, Test.
Perhaps the most important rule to follow for a robust SXO approach is the constant testing, analysis and optimization of your website’s content to reflect what is working for users, and what is not.
One of the best ways to obtain insights into user behavior to use a Heat Map that can tell you where users are clicking, where they are not, and at what point they are exiting your site. Heat Maps are powerful tools because they can give web developers and content creators real-world information on user behavior, as opposed to in-house UX testing. Modifications and upgrades can then occur to reflect changing user patterns and behavior, rather than the static inputs of individual testers.
Do you have a website that could be performing better? Contact us to find out how we can help you optimize your users’ experience through a website audit and other advanced software tools.