Recently one of my posts was published over at boagworld … eran subsequently passed comments about how User Experience (UX) has nothing to do with SEO. Something I couldn’t really disagree with more… but rather than simply state my opinion I want to be a little more constructive and so here are my 9.5 Steps to UX & SEO heaven.

1. Breaking up is hard to do

Check my text page … pretty much unreadable (even if you ignore the Lorem Ipsum) … not very nice right?
Splitting text into short, relevant paragraphs makes it easier on the eyes … eye stress often means the brain will either fall asleep or the user will click of a page … also if the page appears to be overwhelming a user is likely to just click back.

Further than this splitting text into paragraphs makes life easy on the average user… take a look at your screen your not just concentrating on this site, you may have your emails open, some social networking site, maybe another blog or news feed, instant messenger  conversations, your media player the list is endless … if you break things down you encourage someone to finish the sentence and come back… because they know where they were.

2. Remove the Rubbish

Both the users and search engines love relevancy so cut the crap…

Over decorative and flowery language may rub in poetry classes, but not on the internet. Be direct and jargon free in everything you say…

A good example would be:

We offer supportive information for when your machine goes boom or your mouse makes a funny clicky noise…

Where as maybe you should just be saying …. Technical Support.

3. Update your content on a Regular basis

There is nothing more annoying than visiting a site and seeing it was written in the 90’s and has never been updated … unless its some report of course. Its the same for search engines, they like fresh and up to date content.

Make a point of checking all your pages every few weeks, update content where possible… obviously this depends on the type of site you run… for the most part blogs should be left as they are… its static pages that you should be looking at.

Another advantage of refreshing content is that with time comes clarity, so maybe you can become more direct in your text and/or find a better way to display something to the user and search engines.

4. Use Heading tags

Most people are only scanning your text in the first few seconds. If you can grab the attention of the user in that time using a heading you’ve made their experience a little better … and what’s more is that in making the experience better for a user you are helping search engines find relevancy in your content.

5. Important things should Stand Out

If you have something important to say you SHOUT IT … but on the internet you can’t really do that too well… or can you?

Well yes you can and when you are emphasising something there are two little ideas you should consider … if you simply want to emphasise something then use italics … should you just want something to stand out then bold it… or both should you want.

In doing this you also once again draw the attention of the user and the search engines … it makes life easier for all parties.

6. First Impressions Count

It’s believed by many in the web world that you have about 17 seconds (in most cases) to grab the attention of a user…before they get bored. So don’t waste it with a flash loader or flash of any kind…or a splash page even. Instead put the content where it can be seen, don’t waste a user or a search engines time. A search engine will only spend a certain finite time on any given page before moving on … yes it will come back to index the rest but its that first visit that counts… just as with the user.

7. Feedback & Questions

Make it clear where users can leave feed back and questions should they want to.

Blogs are great for this… the commenting system at the bottom of the posts is almost a requirement … so use it!

From an SEO view point the more people comment the more relevant and constructive content you will get on a page.

8. Thinking is bad for your site

In Steve Krug’s book (don’t make me think) he makes several interesting points. To some them up, be clear and concise in what you do… clean and crisp with attention grabbing features means that no real concentration should ever be required when visiting your site.

9. If its relevant … Link to it

This is fairly self explanatory. If you think another site has relevant content or your making a citation give them a link. It helps the user and will not water down or leak your websites ranking in search engines. Indeed there are some that believe this may increase your website authority …therefore increasing your search rank.

9.5 Be unique

Stand out from the crowd & do something different.

Written by Andy Kinsey SEO Consultant
For over ten years I have been working with all kinds of clients big and small, start ups to multi-nationals, helping them to make the most of their online assets and ensure they can grow.