Access to immediate information – that’s what consumers want. Especially those searching on their smartphones. So says Google in its 2019 research review report on online consumer behavior. Google and YouTube data constitute the basis of this research.
- Until quarter 2 of 2020, 53% of global website traffic was through smartphones.
- 75% of smartphone users want immediate information on their search query.
- Searches using the combination “best + right now” have increased by more than 125% during 2018 and 2019.
How This Data Connects With SEO Strategizing
If Google finds out that immediate information is what consumers want, Google will naturally adapt its search engine functions to address that need. That’s a no-brainer.
The point is, you need to adjust your SEO strategy to match Google’s changed functioning style. If Google focuses more on user preference, so must you.
Reasons Why User Experience (UX) Must Guide SEO Strategy
Doomsayers have been predicting the death of SEO for some time. The Google research report indicates that such a prediction is entirely off the track. SEO is far from irrelevant. But it does need to reorient itself.
The focus of SEO strategy needs to shift from keywords to user experience (UX). If more than half of internet searchers demand immediacy, your SEO strategy needs to respond to that need.
Below are the three main reasons that must guide SEO strategizing in 2020 and beyond.
1. Landing At The Top Of A SERP Is No Longer Enough
Top rank on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) has been the guiding principle of SEO strategy so far. It must have worked.
A high rank on the first page of a SERP is fruitful only if that leads to business growth. For that, you need the searchers to click on your page, visit it, and engage with it.
The determining factors for that to happen have changed. Appearing at the top of a SERP does not necessarily translate to user engagement.
They are looking for something else: immediate access to specific information.
Your site may be number one on the first SERP of Google. It will still not receive clicks unless the searcher is sure it’s what they need. Right here, right now. That’s all there is to user search behavior.
2. Mobile Search Is Shaping Web Search Behavior
Two keywords you’d do well to remember – speed and specificity. That is what users are looking for: specific information that is readily available.
Given that focal point, integrating UX into your keyword strategy seems easy. There’s a lot more to it though.
Be prepared to restructure your website to ensure that the information is easily and immediately accessible. UX will not improve with a facile keyword manipulation, take it from us.
3. Search Engines Are Focusing More On UX
That is especially true about Google. This web-behemoth owes its success to its level headedness. It’s not about the tech. It’s about the humans who use the tech.
Humans determine what the online reality must be like.
Google’s open-sourced AI (artificial intelligence) algorithm BERT rolled out on October 21, 2019. At the time of writing this article in early October 2020, BERT works in 72 languages.
Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. That’s what BERT stands for. It’s an indicator of Google’s recognition that human language has nuances.
As an online marketer, you can no longer ignore how humans use prepositions like “of” and “for”, for instance. BERT picks up the subtle difference and directs the crawler accordingly.
The House of Lords and the house for lords have completely different meanings, as you know. You may think it is enough to have just “house” and “lords” as keywords for your SEO. Not quite. Not any longer. BERT is sensitive to the difference. You better be as well.
This recognition of the nuanced nature of human language is a prioritization of UX, of course.
Google’s determined shift towards privileging UX started with RankBrain. Rolled out in 2015, this AI-based algorithm helps Google’s search engine to understand searcher intent better.
Experts applauded RankBrain as a revolution in search engine functions. Prior to RankBrain, the search engine would respond to particular situations in a pre-programmed, predetermined way.
That underwent a radical transformation with the introduction of RankBrain. RankBrain can upgrade itself to improve UX in searches. It works in tandem with Hummingbird, Google’s semantic search algorithm, to produce better search results.
The entire focus of RankBrain is on understanding apparently vague and long-tailed queries. This ranking signal can improve its understanding of user intent and produce improved search results accordingly.
How To Integrate UX Into Your SEO Strategy
With the search engine giant determinedly prioritizing user experience during searches, you cannot afford not to. Revitalizing your SEO strategy to integrate UX is critical. We offer you five key means of achieving that.
1. Integrate Research On Searcher Language Into Your Keyword Research
Be ready for BERT. Remember the focus on the subtle nuances of human language. Don’t ignore them when you conduct your keyword research.
Suppose the user is looking for “how to find rented apartments in New Jersey”. Your keyword for a real estate blog is “rented apartments New Jersey”. BERT may ignore that.
Adding “how to find” may not help either. “How to find rented apartments near New Jersey”, “how to find rented apartments off New Jersey” etc. have marginally different meanings. BERT is sensitive to those differences.
You need to pay attention to these subtle variations also. Pay attention to how people speak, because that’s how they search also.
2. Focus On Searcher Intent In Determining Your Keyword Strategy
Remember that RankBrain constantly upgrades the way Google’s search engine functions to match user intent. You need to focus on that, too.
Insist on your SEO strategy to be responsive to ambiguous, long-tailed queries. You can no longer ignore them. Google doesn’t. If you continue to dismiss these queries while your competitors don’t, you know what you stand to lose.
3. URL, Title Tags, And Meta Descriptions Are Key Searcher Enticers
That has never been different. Only, now you need to revisit them with user intent and user language in mind. Check and rework them to ensure that they speak clearly to the users.
Stop looking from your own ivory tower of “digital marketing”. Come down to the level of ordinary consumers to know exactly how you should word your/ your clients’ URL, title tags, and meta descriptions.
Pay attention to language. Subtle differences matter, says BERT.
4. Simplify Navigation
That is an integral part of attending to the users’ need for speed and specificity. Make all relevant information clear, and easy to find and access. UX will suffer otherwise and so will engagement.
5. Focus On Speed
This, too, is not new. The focus on page loading speed has always been there. It has only become ever more critical from the UX angle. Deep-dive into anything that might hamper your website’s loading speed.
You Need A Versatile Partner to Marry SEO And UX
It is somewhat like a case of difficult matchmaking. Everyone can see that they are a made-for-each-other couple, except the persons involved. That’s where expert matchmakers step in.
That’s exactly what you need to revamp your SEO strategy to sync in UX: expertise and experience. When you engage a professional SEO company, you know what to ask.
Sheryl is the Sr. Marketing Specialist at Uplers who has a great experience in designing well-defined user journeys across the digital marketing domain. She leverages her digital marketing expertise to help businesses draw significant ROIs.