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The world of online marketing is constantly evolving. Technology is constantly changing, as are the users, their habits, expectations, and behavior. In response to the needs of users, new trends in web design are constantly emerging. Solutions created by marketers, UX specialists, web developers, and representatives of other related professions are aimed at attracting potential customers to the site and refining the user experience to make it as complete as possible, which ultimately translates into increased conversions.
SXO – Search Experience Optimization
SXO, or Search Experience Optimization, comes first among the relatively new terms that should be taken into account when designing a corporate website. It’s a combination of the terms search engine optimization (SEO) and user experience (UX) that have been popular for years. In a nutshell, the idea is not only to effectively attract search engine users and encourage them to visit a given website (with the help of SEO), but also to keep them on the website for longer and make them convert thanks to proper UX.
SXO will work for basically any type of website. The most common conversion targets are:
- Online stores and the broader e-commerce industry – the main goal: to increase the number of transactions; additional goals include increasing the number of newsletter signups or adding a product to a wishlist, etc.;
- Service industry – main goal: increasing the number of leads; additional goals: downloading a PDF guide or completing a survey, etc.;
- Content services – main goal: increasing the time a user stays on the site, clicking on related articles, secondary goal: for example, playing a video in the content;
Of course, the main and side goals can seamlessly swap places – it depends entirely on the industry and assumptions of the site owner, though it does not change the fact that putting emphasis on SXO (Search Experience Optimization) with proper implementation of solutions will improve conversions – regardless of what specific goal has been set.
But let’s start from the beginning. As we mentioned above, SXO is a combination of two terms – SEO and UX. Let’s take a look at them one by one:
SEO – Website Positioning
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the positioning of a website in search engines. This process aims at making the website, in response to a particular phrase, appear at the top of search results – or at least on their first page. According to statistics, not many Internet users after entering keywords look at sites located outside the TOP10 of the displayed results, and the further away, the number decreases. If the site is not located at least in the TOP50, it can be concluded that for a given phrase the site will not attract anyone except individual Internet users who are either very determined or “lost” during the search. The goal of every website owner, who’d like to increase the long-term traffic at a relatively low cost in comparison to social media advertising or Google Ads systems, should be to optimize.
Positioning is a complicated process – over 200 different factors influence the position of a website in the Google search engine. Some of them are officially published by the giant from Mountain View, but a large part of them is not made public. So effective SEO requires considerable knowledge and experience, but also brings with it the necessity to constantly experiment and test new solutions.
The situation is not made easier by the fact that Google often changes these factors by updating the main positioning algorithm. In 2020 alone, these smaller changes took place almost every day, and the larger ones every few months – January 2020 Core Update, Nofollow Update released in March, May 2020 Core Update and December 2020 Update. This means that without a large database, it is difficult to effectively optimize a website.
SEO activities can be divided into two branches. The first one is called on-site SEO and consists in adjusting the website and the content placed on it to Google’s requirements. This includes:
- speeding up the website (users often abandon their visit if the loading time is too long – after all, everyone cares about time);
- proper responsiveness, i.e. ability of the website to be displayed correctly on various devices (including mobile devices – smartphones and tablets);
- enrichment of the content on the page with substantive texts that are properly saturated with key phrases – words for which the page should be displayed to users in search engines;
- presentation of content in a friendly form – division into paragraphs, use of headings (H1, H2, H3), appropriate use of graphics, internal linking;
The second branch of activities is off-site SEO, i.e. activities conducted through other sites. Each link on another site leading to the target site strengthens its “power” – that is, it gives a signal to the search engine algorithm that the page is valuable and its position in the rankings should be increased. First of all the link parameter is important – the link may be marked as dofollow or nofollow – in the first case the link “invites” Google bot to visit the page, which translates into SEO. The nofollow parameter also allows the user to click on it, however, it will be ignored by crawlers, thus having zero impact on SEO. Nevertheless, for Google it means linking diversity, which makes it more authentic. This process is called link pillowing and is also used in SEO.
A very important factor in an external linking strategy is the selection of appropriate techniques, pages, NAPs, buffer sites, and linking schedules so that Google understands these activities as real, not “bought”. Otherwise, it can penalize your position, e.g. if you suddenly get a lot of links even from the best and biggest websites.
Why Does SEO Matter?
It’s worth remembering that SEO is the most cost-effective option for generating website traffic in the long run. Both Google Ads and social media advertising systems in the hands of professionals can be effective marketing tools. While using these solutions, when we turn off the campaign, the traffic immediately disappears. The effects of positioning last much longer, which in the long run generates noticeably lower costs of customer acquisition. By investing in SEO, you make sure that your company is always exactly where the potential customer is.
We have written about SEO many times on our blog – read some articles that thoroughly present selected aspects related to SEO.
UX – User Experience
User Experience is the entirety of impressions felt by a visiting Internet user. UX is a multifaceted field, encompassing not only technology, but also psychology, cognitive science and other disciplines.
An important component of the user experience is the UI, or user interface. The UI can be called a demonstration of the way a user gives commands to a program – for example, a content management system (CMS) on a website. A UI element can be considered any part of a page that, when clicked, causes the page to perform a specific command. The interface, or more specifically its graphical representation (GUI – Graphical User Interface) is incredibly important – it is responsible for the simplicity of the site’s navigation and its intuitiveness, as well as various visual aspects. On some sites the combination of colors, fonts or even borders makes the site a hard to define pleasure to use, while on another – very similar – it irritates or arouses some anxiety. Color psychology, typography, composition solutions and many, many others – all these elements must be taken into account when designing the site in terms of the interface.
User interface is an important part of UX, but user experience is a much broader term. Among other things, a UX specialist takes into account the user’s profile – their digital competencies, demographic aspects, brand persona. It is also an in-depth analysis of competitive sites. The most important part of a UX specialist’s work are extensive experiments based on recording sessions, generating heat maps, A/B tests, and even testing the shopping path and payment gateways on dozens of devices, resolutions and browsers.
UX, and more broadly SXO, takes three views into account:
- user (who cares about a simple and seamless and enjoyable site experience);
- site owner (who emphasizes valuable traffic and high conversion rate);
- web crawlers (which analyze the page from different angles, resulting in a specific result in search results).
Why Does UX Matter?
A well-designed user experience can completely transform the statistics on a website. Forrester research from a few years ago showed that simply redesigning the user interface can change conversion rates by 200%, and changing the UX by up to 400%. These are results that can definitely be considered a business game changer. Of course, this is an extreme case and in the vast majority of cases the results of redesigning a website will not be so spectacular (it also depends on what level we start from). But there’s no denying that in the business context every positive change can herald the survival or dynamic development of a company. UX audit is therefore the first step to improve the effectiveness of your own website.
SXO – The Future of Web Development
Search Experience Optimization is an evolutionary approach to web development that combines the advantages of SEO and UX design, while focusing on maximizing conversions. According to SXO, just because a user arrives on a page from search results doesn’t mean anything – it has to be complemented by a personalized experience based on a number of variables.
Set up a free consultation with Verseo’s UX Specialists and SEO specialists and let us skyrocket your website!