SEO’s reputation has evolved and improved quite a bit in the last several years. Whether you’re an SEO by title, a technical architect, or a Web designer, you know that search engine optimization is a fundamental piece of a healthy website.
While user experience design is viewed as an inherent component of a website, many development teams still approach SEO as an afterthought tacked on at the end of a project. Or worse, they merely ensure a site isn’t doing anything blatantly wrong, toss a few title tags and descriptions on key content pages, and then call it a day. Optimizing a site for search through a holistic approach to SEO is key for a Web development project to reach its full potential.
SEOs will have a better chance at being included in these projects as a forethought rather than an afterthought if we can find the right ways to partner with our UX counterparts and share a list of project objectives.
Here’s how you get started.
Make the Tension Work for You, Not Against
First, let’s recognize that many marketers and UX experts see themselves on opposite sides of the conversion fence: a user’s needs balanced against business goals. Friction between the two groups is inevitable, but a healthy team can use that friction to improve development, rather than impede it. SEO and digital marketing are increasingly reliant on good user experience, so it’s important to create an atmosphere of collaboration before you even start development.
Establish Unified Site Goals and Reference Them When Making Decisions
UX and SEO must have a common understanding of a website’s goals before suggesting ideas for design, content, or marketing strategies. Different perspectives on those goals can produce powerful results if both parties are willing to work together. Create user and buyer personas together for a business to help guide your decision-making throughout a project. If you ever find yourself at odds with your UX counterpart, refer back to the user or buyer persona that your idea supports. From keyword research to user flows, decisions shouldn’t be made based on a hunch, but instead use your combined expertise, industry research, and user feedback to make decisions that will improve your website.
Agree to ask yourselves these questions when you struggle to come to a decision together in a more organic format:
- What goal does this help us achieve?
- Is this the best way we can achieve our goal?
- Will this please the user?
- How will this design or content element impact our user’s decision-making?
- Will this decision drive conversions?
Don’t Create Content in a Vacuum
You shouldn’t write content without design in mind and design should never dictate the messaging of your content in a vacuum. Determine the best method for developing content for a Web project – agree on site architecture, which pages need to be created or reworked, a rough length for content, and the types of design elements that should be used. Why is this important?
A combined effort to determine content structure will prevent project delays, but most importantly it will make for a better user experience. Quality content leads to better chance of your site users converting the way you need them to. Well-written content without the support of design elements and proper use of white space will get lost on a page. And quality design with poor content will prevent users from trusting the message a brand is trying to deliver.
Prepare to Iterate
If you’ve ever been part of a Web development project, you probably realized that you’re never “done” with a project. Your users’ needs evolve, the best practices of the Web evolve, and your website should evolve too. UX and SEO teams leverage market and user research to serve users’ needs at launch, but we’re also uniquely equipped to ensure a site’s performance can be measured. After launch, UX and SEO professionals should test with real-life users and evaluate site performance to make iterative site changes that optimize user experience and conversions.
Improved collaboration between your SEO and UX teams means positive impact on the outcomes of the Web projects we produce, from the frontlines of users to the bottom lines of our clients.