In order to optimize for search engine success, it’s first important to understand the goals of the search engines themselves. Search engines such as Google want, basically, what all other businesses want—namely, to provide a good product to consumers. In this case, that means providing helpful, relevant search engine results for each query entered into the system.
Of course, determining what makes content good, helpful, or relevant is a little bit subjective. Search engine algorithms tend to favor pages that have a few qualities in common, however—including:
- Ease of navigation and use;
- Direction, actionable information that is relevant to the search query;
- Professional design;
- Accessibility to modern browsers;
- Content that is legitimate, credible, and well-written.
It All Comes Down to User Experience
All of this is a roundabout way of saying that user experience is an important part of search engine rankings—but how important? There are several variables that search engines can directly take into account—keywords, links, site structure, etc.—when determining rankings. Linking patterns and user engagement metrics, meanwhile, provide algorithms with some measure of a site’s popularity.
This is all lumped under usability and user experience, and stands as second-order influences on search engine success. These are indirect metrics but measurable and important ones just the same, and provide search engines with data they can interpret to decide how useful and popular a site really might be with search engine users.
To give just one example, consider a site that has no external links coming back to it. The search engine’s interpretation of this is likely to be that the site simply isn’t very good—i.e., nobody is linking to it because nobody is thinking it’s a very good resource. Thus, the search engine infers certain things about the site’s usability and user experience.
Content and User Experience
In a very real way, then, search engine ranking success hinges on quality content. If you create the kind of content that makes for a good user experience, that goes a long way toward sending all the right kinds of signals to the search engines.
This leads inevitably to the question of what makes quality content. There are several signals of quality content that search engines take into account—among them:
- Engagement metrics—how many users click on internal links, bounce rates, etc.
- Linking patterns—the number of external links, the quality of the linking sites, etc.
- Machine learning—algorithmic impressions of how humans might judge a site’s quality.
What all of this suggests for the purposes of search engine optimization is that it’s important to know why people might search for certain content, and how your page might meet their needs. Designing a page to offer actionable, substantive, and direct answers to a search engine query—in a way that is easy to navigate and understand—is key for sending the proper quality signals to search engines.
As such, a good enterprise SEO professional can and should be a UX expert as well; Sefati Consulting more than fits that description. Contact us today to learn more.