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SEO’s role in User Experience & Development

Tamara Martínez

Table of Content

What is SEO?
The SEO Steps
Improving Your SEO
Where To Start With SEO?
User Experience & SEO
Development & SEO
Tools and Resources
Conclusion

"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" For sure, you've heard this saying before. Well, in Software Development & Design this phrase fits like a glove. Imagine you've created the perfect website. It has advanced-guard languages and frameworks with an amazing UI/UX design. But, what if nobody sees it? What if, despite all efforts, you notice that views and clicks numbers come down to zero? This is when SEO takes the lead, and why you should consider SEO from scratch in a development process. As a result, not only you’ll have better long-term results and save some future headaches. Also, you’ll see improvements right on the launching stage.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In summary, it’s the practice of growing a website's traffic from organic search results. It's a long-term marketing goal, employed to improve websites' visibility. If a site is well optimized, it will rank higher in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). As a result, more people will see it and visit the site. Unlike paid results, there’s no way to slide yourself into the first results by paying any amount of money. Besides requiring extensive analysis, it’s more long-term-oriented than other marketing methods. Nowadays, there are many Search Engines, like Bing or Yahoo!, but Google crowns as the most known and used. In its SEO Starter Guide, the giant itself establishes some protocols. One highlight is to build websites to benefit users. Another piece of advice offered is to improve and optimize the user experience. As the company says, "SEO is about helping search engines understand and present content”.

What is SEO?

The SEO Steps

Within Google, there’s a three-step process to show sites and pages on its Search Engine. These are Crawling, Indexing, and Serving. Let’s take a look at each one of them below:

Crawling

To start the process, Google needs to find out what pages exist. This receives the name of URL Discovery. When Google discovers a URL, it crawls it to understand what's on it. To do so, it uses a program called Googlebot, otherwise known as a robot, or spider. This type of software use algorithms to conclude which pages to crawl, and how often to do so. While crawling, Google renders the page and runs any JavaScript it finds.

This is important because websites tend to rely on JavaScript to show their content. So, without rendering, Google might not be able to see that content. Since there isn't a central registry of all web pages, Google is always looking for pages to add or update on its list.

Indexing

After crawling a page, Google's algorithms will try to understand what its content is. The indexing includes processing and analyzing textual content and key content attributes. For instance, its elements, ALT attributes, images, videos, and more. Also, it collects signals about the pages and their contents. Some of these encompass the site's language, country of origin, and usability. Finally, this information gets stored in the Google Index.

Serving

The Serving stage applies to what different users see when searching through Google. Once a user enters a query, machines will search the index for matching pages to provide relevant results. As we've said, there are lots of factors to dictate relevancy. For example, the user's location, language, and device. That's why the same search keywords can provide different results. If you search "car repairment", the results on Hong Kong won't be the same as those for users in Paris.

A highlight of Google’s system is that it doesn't allow payments for higher page ranking. While it has its own separated lane for that, being Google Ads, organic results and rankings can't be paid for. Yet, there are some issues to pay attention to if you aim to succeed in SEO. For instance, the Crawling stage may present issues with servers or networks. Further, Indexing errors can have a relation to the content quality or website usability. Finally, Serving can present problems with content relevance and its relation with keywords. That's why, in its ​​Guidelines and Policies for Site Owners, Google specifically states that it doesn't guarantee visibility for any site at any step of the process.

Improving Your SEO

There are many terms worth knowing to guarantee SEO results. Let’s unfold some of them:

Tags

SEO tags are the titles, keywords, and other metadata that you include in your website code. These tags help search engines to understand what your website is about. Further, this allows engines to rank it. When adding SEO tags to your website, be sure to use relevant keywords and phrases. Keep in mind those that people are likely to search for. Also, make sure the tags are in the correct places on your site.

Sitemaps

A sitemap is just that: a map of your website. This helps the Search Engines to understand the structure and layouts of your site. To create a good sitemap, you must include all your pages. Among each of them, there must be info like its title, description, and keywords. You can create a sitemap by hand or using tools like Google’s Sitemaps Generator.

Canonicalization

The term canonicalization refers to ensuring that your links point to the right pages. As it can help improve your rankings and visibility in the SERPs, this is quite relevant. In this process, you "tell" the engines which are your most important pages. Also, you can tell which ones you want or need to be at the highest ranking.

Where To Start With SEO?

Where To Start With SEO?

​​You might be wondering what SEO has to do with UX or Software Development. While it wouldn't be wrong to ask, the answer is quite simple. The more elements you take into account from the start of a project, the more likely you are to achieve success. In the case of SEO, there are technical aspects that contribute to efficient projects. Some of them got a relation to a project's structure, like tags, attributes, classes, and IDs. Others become relevant when considering its content, such as copywriting, and element distribution. In summary, an SEO-focused implementation is beneficial for both Experience and Development. Yet, we’d like to unfold the different connections between these. Let’s go!

User Experience & SEO

There's a non-written rule on the internet. If your page does not appear on the first page of search engine results, it might as well not exist. That's why, since the briefing step of a project, you need to ensure your product or service ranks high. To do so, you need to link your content with proper keywords related to it. As a result, you'll be more likely to become a top-of-mind choice for potential users or customers. In this sense, SEO plays a critical role in Design. If your project is not search-engine friendly, its access will get restricted. In consequence, integrating SEO includes linking, navigation, and content.

Content

It's important for designers to know what the platform offers from the beginning. This comes vital since it allows keyword research and strategic placement from scratch. As a result, not only you'll get better rankings in search results. Also, you'll be able to cut down time and work on content to SEO. And, as you might know, your content is vital for SEO success. Yet, another highly relevant edge to take into account is link building. With links directed from other credible sites, you'll achieve better search rankings. That's because engines also consider their rankings to correlate with your final results. And you should also consider this from the briefing and scratching stages of a project. In summary, an SEO approach when designing a site will attract more users through engines.

Appeal

Connections between experience and SEO are not limited to content. Also, the visual appeal of the final product gain relevance in this process. For instance, copywriting is important for rankings. Yet, experience aspects, like usability, and simplicity come crucial for the following steps. If you don't provide a clean and organized look and feel, your SEO approach won't have the same effect. Yes, you'll rank higher in search engines. But, without an accessible proposal, users will be less likely to become customers.

Accessibility

Search engines need relevant content along with suitable visual elements. These include, but are not limited to, videos and images. Often, a good SEO approach combines copywriting with metadata. As for the latter, there are some HTML meta tags that can help. You should consider both the and tags. These go inside the section of your page and assure better crawling from search engines. For example, the meta name tags for this post could be something among the line of:

<head>
<meta name="keywords" content="SEO, user, experience, development">
<meta name="description" content="Having an SEO approach comes relevant from the beginning of a project. Discover how to upload your game in UX and Development!">
</head>

Also, you need to take notice of ALT Texts. These are short-written descriptions of multimedia elements. Not only are these beneficial for accessibility. Also, they help engines to connect multimedia with text content. As a result, it provides more content unity and collaborates on higher rankings. Most content management systems have their own mechanisms for adding ALT texts onto images, videos, and documents.

In summary, you need to make sure there's a balance between content and structure.

User Experience & SEO

Development & SEO

As a general rule, successful platforms lie in concise and logical structures. That's why content needs to be both easy to find and comfortable to view. This way, it's more likely users will explore and connect with your proposal in deeper ways. Yet, these are not the only relevant aspects of SEO best practices. Also, there are technical approaches you should consider from a structural perspective. These need a joint work of Content and Development areas.

Mobile-First Dev

You need to acknowledge how people tend to interact with platforms and businesses. Right now, most users search the web through mobile devices. This means mobile users must find your page appealing. Also, Google itself applies mobile-first indexing. So, the dev proposal for your page needs to consider the variety of available devices.

Page Loading Speed

Over half of users leave a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Plus, studies show that, with an average of 10s of Page Time Load, bounce can increase up to 123%. This, of course, not only means fewer viewers but also fewer customers. That's why dev teams should redirect efforts to guarantee a fast loading speed.

Content Duplications

Engines see content as duplicate if there are different URLs that lead to it. Since this messes with ranking growth, you should always avoid content duplication. That's why it's important to have one original page and mark the others as alternative ones. For example, this tends to happen among multilingual or multiregional websites. Yet, there are different ways to avoid duplication in those cases. One of them is using onsite translation services instead of creating different sites.

Meta Robots Tag

With the meta robots tag, you can control the behaviour of search engines on each page. Let's go over some of the most important categories of these tags:

Index/NoIndex: This tag tells engines if a page should get crawled and indexed or not. While pages are often indexed by default, with noindex you can exclude specific pages.
Follow/Nofollow: With this tag, you'll be telling engines whether they should crawl the links on a page. All pages have this tag by defect.
Nosnippet: Snippet options tell engines if meta descriptions should be pulled or not. A variable of this is noodp/noydir, which also works for the Open Directory Project (DMOZ) and the Yahoo! Directory.

URL Structures

URLs are how users find domains and pages. So, it's relevant they describe their content while also having proper structure. The final idea of this is that URLs can provide info on what they contain. For instance, an example of a poor URL structure could be https://wearecapicua.com/post/f4r23k. In this sense, a good structure would be more on the lines of https://wearecapicua.com/seo-on-experience-development.

SEO Tools and Resources

Tools and Resources

Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner allows you to research new keywords. Also, it lets you see estimates of received search and associate costs to target them. Among its features, there are monthly search estimates and keyword organizing. The latter enables users to see how keywords fit into different related categories.

Moz Local

Moz Local helps you improve your online presence. To achieve this, it leverages the important factors for both visitors and engines. Its features are mostly focused on business rankings. That's why it focuses on things like business listings and review management.

Yoast SEO

​​This venture mainly offers features and plugins for Wordpress uses. Yet, you can use its SEO criteria for every content. Its Flesch Reading Ease Score lets you can discover parameters to achieve better rankings. With Google’s algorithm becoming more human-like, and with the rise of voice search, readable texts are indirectly contributing to higher rankings. For instance, you should pay attention to shortening your sentences. If sentences are short, readers will be able to absorb the information. In consequence, long sentences make it difficult to highlight clear concepts. Another recommended practice is to limit the usage of difficult words. For example, by using small instead of minuscule, you'll achieve a more massive understanding. Another good practice involves the use of active voice. This ensures understanding while transmitting confidence to readers and users. In opposite, the passive voice leads to doubt and different interpretations. This comes relevant especially if you are using content to sell products or services. Use content instances to present yourself as an expert voice on business-related matters. You can read more about achieving a holistic SEO approach in this article.

Conclusion

SEO is an important part of web development and should be considered from the beginning stages of your project. By using relevant keywords and tags, you can help improve your website’s visibility in the search engines. In addition, SEO can help you achieve other marketing goals such as increased brand awareness, leads, and sales. There are a variety of tools and resources available to help you with your SEO efforts. Use them to your advantage and you will see improved results from your website!


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