What is Search Experience Optimization?

Search experience optimization provides a new way of viewing the online user experience… and it allows companies to more directly appeal to the end user, not just Google’s algorithms.

There’s a common misconception pertaining to the search engines, and specifically how they shape our marketing. You’ve probably heard marketers discuss ways in which they can appeal to the search engine algorithms; how they endeavor to give Google, Bing, and the other search engines what they want. This search engine-centric approach is understandable, given the prominent role that Google et al. play in our lives. It’s also misguided.

Here’s why: At the end of the day, Google and Bing aren’t actually searching for products and services. People conduct searches, and Google and Bing are just a means to an end. Thus, if you want your marketing to

Search Experience Optimization
Search experience optimization provides a new way of viewing the online user experience… and it allows companies to more directly appeal to the end user, not just Google’s algorithms.

influence the core decision-makers, it’s important that it be people-centric, not search engine-centric.

What we’re describing here is an important, relatively new philosophy called search experience optimization. It may sound like a matter of semantics, but actually, it can have a huge impact on your day to day digital marketing efforts. Let’s take a closer look.

Looking Closer at Search Experience Optimization

Search experience optimization is built on a simple premise: User behavior and user experience are what ultimately determine SERP position and rank. To put it a little differently, search experience optimization is an offshoot of SEO that tries to align more closely with the audience, not with the algorithms. More specifically, search experience optimization is all about positioning your website as the perfect answer to users’ questions.

There are a few characteristics that make search experience optimization quite different from traditional SEO… among them:

  • Search experience optimization casts an overall vision for the entire online marketing department.
  • It seeks to break down silos across the organization.
  • It closely calibrates metrics to coincide with user experience, not just website performance.

Optimizing for a Better Search Experience

We’ve been looking at search experience optimization from a bird’s eye view; now, let’s get into the weeds a little bit, considering some of the specific issues that are important to this process. As you seek a more user-oriented approach to your marketing, here are some factors that you’ll want to keep at the forefront of your mind:

Website usability

It’s important that your website provides users with a clear and easy way to find the answers they are seeking; in particular, pay attention to these issues:

  • Site architecture. Seek out 404 errors and other site architecture problems that create a negative or frustrating user experience.
  • Indexing issues. Keep an eye on technical SEO, ensuring that all pages are properly tagged and organized in a way that makes them easy to navigate.
  • Keywords Research. The keywords that people use to locate your site tell you much about the kinds of questions your audience is asking.


Relevance is one of Google’s favorite buzzwords… but what does it really mean, exactly? Basically, relevance is all about providing a website that addresses the user’s questions, problems, or pain points. Some specific things to keep in mind:

  • Keywords Relevance.Here again, keywords are an important window into how people access your content. How are keyword trends changing, and how does that reflect changes in user behavior?
  • Content mapping. Four out of five Internet searches seek informational content. Does your website provide good, substantive information to address those requests?


When we talk about authority, what we’re really asking is: Why should people trust your content? Why should they accept your information over the information they might find on other websites? Again, there are a couple of issues to weigh here:

  • Content optimization. Is your content fresh and relevant? Is it written well and formatted to maximize readability?
  • Linking. Do you have both internal and external links embedded in your content? And do those links actually enhance the value of your content?

Final Thoughts About Search Experience Optimization

You’re probably used to search marketing that focuses on what the algorithms want; on what it takes to appeal to Google and Bing. But this is putting the cart before the horse. Remember that the search algorithms are important tools, but they’re not driving the show. Actual human beings are the ones in the driver’s seat, using those search algorithms to find relevant information. They are the ones you need to win over.

Search experience optimization provides a framework for doing just that… and when handled properly, it provides a whole new way for you to engage with online users.

Give some thought to how search experience optimization can benefit your business; with any specific questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to Sefati & Co directly.

Author: Al Sefati

Al Sefati is an enterprise SEO and search marketing expert and the founder of Sefati & Company. Al works with marketing agencies and enterprise level clients and he is in charge of forming and monitoring their SEO and SEM strategies. Al blogs often about latest SEO, SEM and digital marketing trends and tactics.