UX and SEO: Myths…or not?

by | Mar 8, 2013 | Unassigned

User experience (UX) and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) have historically not co-existed well with each other. It is vital to know the correct balance of UX and SEO to improving the impression of your website and website design as well as giving good search results.

  • Form fields Myth: Single-step is better than multi-step.

When you have to fill in forms online, particularly with regard to e-commerce or signups, websites tend to believe that having all the questions on one page is better for SEO, capturing registrations and conversion rates compared to having a multi-step process.

Now whether or not this myth is true depends on the length of your form. The advantage of having a single step form is that the user can see everything that needs answering so there are no surprises making it more transparent, but, if you have a long form, a user may look at the form and see it as quite a daunting, overwhelming and a laborious process which can affect your number of registrations. A user may feel frustrated like “Do I really have to do all of this?” However, the other school of thought is that if you separate the form into different steps, this may seem more appealing to a user compared to a single step process and may also get more users through the process.

So is single-step better than multi-step?

Not necessarily. If your form is long and it looks daunting, then it may work to your advantage to separate it into a multi-step process to improve the UX resulting in a higher registration/form completion rate. Otherwise a single-step form is better as it is better for SEO with more transparency to the users.

  • Myth: “Giving users more choice will ensure they make the best choice”.

With the ever increase of social media, every blog post, article, website, or video etc have some sort of social media connectivity and sharing associated with it. Therefore the common tendency is to include all of them for example: for your article on ‘Top Video Design’ you may add the option to share with Facebook, like on Facebook, Tweet on Twitter, Google+, embed etc to get more exposure to your content. The problem is, similar to the first myth, is that you are overwhelming your users which creates what psychologists call a “paradox of choice” – which is that when presented with a lot of options, we are often worse at making the best decision or just prefer not to make a decision (so not to share your content!).

Therefore it may be better to give a limited number of options. For example if you know that 80% of your users are active on Facebook, 70% of your users are active on Twitter and only 10% are active on Google+ then it may be better to just include the Facebook and Twitter sharing icons making the pages look less cluttered and to an extent less ‘desperate’ thus improving the UX but not jeopardise content sharing.

  • Myth: “Having a lot of text with no visual elements is worse than having a page dominated by visual elements with no text.”

Don’t you just hate it when you go on a website and all you see is text, text and more text? Yes? Thought so! This action results in web developers tending to bias their design in favour of visual elements more than text. This one is very difficult to answer because it completely depends on the content and your target audience. If your content is well presented with intuitive web design such as headings, sections, typography, and visual design around your text then studies have shown that text tends to be better (for SEO too because you can get those keywords in!). On the other hand visual elements does present a less daunting task than reading a lot of text so the UX will be good but this bias has lead to the creation of content that may be seen as “less credible” and it is the quality of your content that brings people back to your website, so having a webpage dominated by images and visual content that is not necessarily well thought out may not be good for UX and certainly not for SEO

  • Myth: “People hardly ever scroll so I should put all the content I want them to see above the fold.”

Well I can answer that one straight off the bat – that is a complete and utter myth! Research has shown that people do scroll and that scrolling has increased over the years because of the mouse wheel and the touch screen (on phones) so people are ‘trained’ to scroll more. This may come as a huge relief to all to you guys focused on SEO and conversion rate acquisition because you can improve the UX and create a better visual layout without compromising the SEO of your content. Also people are naturally curious, make the content above the ‘fold’ appealing in such a way to give them a reason to scroll down and they will.

  • Myth: “Good UX cannot co-exist with good SEO”

This myth is one of the myths that hurt SEOs the most! A lot of designers and developers think that it is either one or the other but UX and SEO is so closely interlinked that they could almost be married! If you are fighting for which one to go for then you are almost certainly doing one of those two wrong. Often SEO dominates as the page discovery is very important however in recent years the UX of the site has become just as important.

So how do you achieve this? Well most of the time it is achieved through creative and designing solutions. Therefore it is important to have a good web design agency to ensure that you are optimising your UX without sacrificing your SEO as this will ensure that the discovery of your website is a priority but, especially in business and retail, it is the UX that results in sales especially if you are new and unfamiliar with the webpage.