Back in the day, keyword stuffing, content spinning, and other black hat SEO practices ruled the search engine rankings. Marketers who resorted to them suffered big time, and rightly so.

They didn’t update themselves with the legitimate process of becoming successful with SEO, or instead, they didn’t intend to. But this was back in the day.

Such malpractices stand no chance in the modern-day’s utterly dynamic search engines. And so, hardworking marketers do get rewarded for their efficiency and competence.

But, as the strategies to rank evolve, search engines, too, embrace the more improved and challenging paths. Good things don’t come easy. Do they?

Evolution is such that Google, alongside considering links, content and the results delivered by RankBrain, has now incorporated user experience as a critical metric to a website’s rank.

So, the question, “Are SEO and User Experience related?” has only one answer.

What kind of a user experience are we talking about here?

To be honest, user experience is a very subjective facet. Why? Well, you cannot calculate someone’s experience, or can you? It isn’t quantifiable. So, how come the search engine takes user experience into consideration.

The answer to this lies in the famous theories of Reasoned Action and Planned Behaviour. More so, it is reflected profoundly in the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) devised by Venkatesh et al. in 2003.

Stay put because we are going to tell you something significant for understanding the search engine UX.

UTAUT reveals that a user’s adoption of technology or the mere adherence to it is associated with performance expectancy and effort expectancy.

Performance expectancy is a user’s perception of the level of assistance that a system would provide him or her with.

Effort expectancy, on the other hand, is associated with the comfortability with which a user can use the system.

You’re getting a hint, right? If not, the next statement will make it absolutely clear.

The combination of performance and effort expectancy delivers absolute value to the user — an aspect regularly covered while designing websites.


How can search engines quantify UX?

That’s a million-dollar question for marketers who are consistently engaged in ranking their websites. This is because the search engine UX preferences give them an insight into the best practices that are feasible for adoption.

Search engines, especially Google, take note of the following things:

    1. System Quality – It refers to the overall website quality, including its UI, backend, customisation, ease-of-use, privacy, swiftness, etc, and is considered integral both to UX and SEO.
    2. Information Quality – It refers to the quality of content that is present on the website and is one of the most prominent ranking factors besides being central to improved user experience.
  1. Service Quality – This is both a subjective and a dynamic construct and constitutes the delivery of credible and value-adding products and services with a touch of empathy and responsiveness.

Now, all the aforementioned constructs can be measured through certain metrics. For instance, system and information qualities can be quantified through the analysis of bounce rate, time spent on specific pages, heat maps, click-through rates, etc.

Alternatively, service quality can be assessed by investigating the number of sales, feedbacks, review articles, comments, reactions, etc.

What have we learned until now? — UX and SEO are really a thing, and that’s because search engines change the, otherwise subjective experience, into quantifiable metrics.

This reason alone must be enough to motivate the digital marketers, for there is more than one thing they can work on for improving their page rankings.

How is Website UX critical to SEO?

“Optimisation” is a go-to postfix when talking about website’s presence on the search engine. That’s because numerous brands are trying to rank for similar keywords and key phrases.

In that light, it becomes imperative to understand what optimisation literally means. An honest definition is the identification of the buyer persona and then catering to it.


From brainstorming the offerings to working on the design to even formulating the content, everything that your brand was, is, and will be doing would be in favour of satisfying the target audience.

That means that whatever you do to rank your website on Google, you do it for the people who are entering the queries associated with your services or products.

We hardly think this way, isn’t it?

In concrete terms, your workings on the website contribute to the development of an environment that can facilitate excellent user experience.

When user experience is excellent, the metrics that Google takes into consideration will automatically show promising results, something that will instantly multiply your chances to rank high.

But remember, the word “instant” must not be taken out of context here. Patience and perseverance are the keys to successful digital marketing.

Now that you have a better understanding of how user experience affects SEO, let’s dive deeper into their relationship.

UX and SEO: Part 1

What’s the first thing that you see when you type a query/word on Google? A list of most relevant search results.

And how do you choose which website to click on? By reading the title and the meta description.


There’s no one across the world who wouldn’t follow that practice. Hence, where does your website create the first impression? Right on the first SERP (Search Engine Results Page).

In other words, UX starts shaping itself even before the user has entered your website. For that reason, you need to be on your toes. After all, the first impression is the last impression amidst a competition this intense.

Working on the Title Tags

Title tags appear as headings on the SERPs and, are more or less, an indication of what’s in the website. For instance, the title tag for this article would be “This is How Website UX and SEO Are Related.”

Important Note: Google only reserves 70 characters for the display of these tags, so make sure you brainstorm the best title for your page.

As soon as you scroll through, you’ll understand what will be discussed in the article. For this precise reason, title tags are critical to the site’s overall SEO, usability, and of course, first interaction.

Penning the Meta Descriptions

The explanation of search engine UX is incomplete without the mention of meta descriptions. This is where Google provides enough space to outline the things you want the users to know about.

In short, a meta description is a summary of the content on the respective web page. Believe us; there is nothing more powerful than meta descriptions in impacting the click-through rates.

Important Note: Google reserves 158 characters for the descriptions being displayed on desktop and 120 characters when seen on mobile.


Stressing the URL Breadcrumbs

Often overlooked, URL breadcrumbs always present an opportunity to improve the search engine UX. Their job is to reflect upon the page hierarchy so that the user is well aware of the website’s comprehensiveness.

Yes, that’s what we like to call it — comprehensive, for it facilitates an understanding that:

  1. The website concentrates on niches
  2. The website has enough content
  3. The website is credible because of 1 and 2

When talking in terms of technicality, breadcrumbs allow users to directly jump to the themes and sub-themes according to their preference.

So, these three make up for the first impression of the site’s user experience. One must not go too far investigating their influence. Just type something on Google, and you’ll notice your clicking habits.

UX and SEO: Part 2

Consider this; your title tag and meta description were relevant to the user interests, and forthwith he/she has entered your website. Now, this is where the actual game of interaction, value-addition, retention, and conversion begins.

To be precise, your website makes a particular impression on the users in 0.05 seconds. This impression often lays the foundation for a definite judgement. So, if you think you can get away with a few shortcomings in, let’s say UI or content, you’re ruining your business.

What’s further noteworthy is that 88% of the users never return to the website they think is not-so-good or relevant to their interests. While the latter reason is understandable, the former constantly keep the businesses on their toes.

For comprehending what your website must incorporate for delivering a better UX, Google’s UX and SEO signals must be analysed.

Here’s how Google operates

Google employs the RankBrain algorithm for evaluating user interaction and satisfaction. RankBrain is an AI-powered advanced search-engine algorithm that arranges the rank of websites on SERPs.

RankBrain is different from all the previous ranking algorithms as it is capable of understanding and relating the semantics of the searched query to relevant content.

In other words, RankBrain can devise its own concepts and choose, based on user satisfaction, the rank of a website.

What matters the most is that it caters to user interaction profoundly. It does that by evaluating:

  1. The Dwell Time: The total elapsed time that a user spends on your website before heading back to the SERP.
  2. The Bounce Rate: The total percentage of the users bouncing back from your site without carrying out any action.
  3. The Pogo Sticking: It is the evaluation of the number of users visiting different websites on the SERP. This gives Google an idea that some websites might not be performing per the rank awarded to them.


So, how can a website do justice to User Experience SEO?

While there are a lot of things worthwhile discussing under this heading, it would be feasible to stick to the most prominent and valuable.

The User Interface (UI)

UI is often considered in alliance with UX, and rightly so. However, it is one of the portions that complement enhanced user experience. The UI of a website works as a make-or-break-the-client aspect.

Do you know that 94% of the visitors on your website make an impression about the same just by looking at the design? A bad design can ruin the conversion possibility, and a good one can do just the opposite.

That’s precisely why a better UI can bring forth a 200% increase in the conversion rate, and the resulting UX design can help increase the conversions to 400%. This is enormous, but the question is whether you’re willing to develop a go-to design.

While considering the prospect of an excellent user interface design, it must be noted that it can only be achieved through the:

  1. Emphasis on design psychology
  2. Understanding of the buyer persona
  3. Appropriate choice of colours
  4. Proper placement of CTAs
  5. Seamless scrolling and transitioning experience

The Content

SEO and user experience go hand-in-hand because content contributes to this relationship. To be honest, the vitality of content can’t be stressed enough. It has been serving the consumer needs from over two decades and will continue to do so regardless of the trends.

From adding value to garnering credibility, content bridges the gap between the users’ pursuit of knowledge. At the same time, it acts as a catalyst to marketing efforts and that, too, organically.

So, when a business hopes to rank a website on the basis of high-quality content, it expands its horizons on the search engine. As far as the SEO and user experience are concerned, content provides enough impetus to the website to be able to engage the users and, at the same time, do well on the SERPs.

A lot of credit for content being the king must be given to keyword research strategy and the ranking algorithms. RankBrain, in particular, with the capability of identifying the semantics, is able to serve to the potential of great content.

The offerings

We’ve told you how off-site feedbacks and reviews possess the ability to let Google know about the credibility of the site. Well, that’s only possible when the product or the service you are providing meets the user expectations.

You might have heard about companies investing in data mining and analysis — a process that has solely and conspicuously amplified the opportunities in the data science and analytics field.

The idea behind massive investments is to garner insights about user preferences. In other words, businesses identify and target very specific buyer personas. More so, they develop Empathy Maps to recognise customer pain points.

All of the aforementioned complements the efforts that go into creating a suitable product or service. Take the search engines, for example. Google’s data mining is more advanced than any other brand across the world. The company utilises that for understanding the user intent better. Thus, it no longer comes as a surprise why Google keeps on tweaking its algorithms every now and then.

That said, improving your offerings must be your priority and what’s better than doing that after understanding the customers.

Important Note: Data analysis can also be obtained from an external database, and it’s not imperative to appoint a team for accumulating it.

What’s new with the search engine UX in 2020?

For all those who have been working towards enhancing the user experience, they will now have a metric to follow, and for all the right reasons.

This year, Google officially confirmed the integration of SEO and user experience and its incorporation into the ranking algorithm. This update is likely to influence the search results from May 2021.

With this update, Google will bring in page experience signals under the name “core web vitals.” Along with these, mobile-friendliness, secured browsing, HTTPS connection, and accessibility will be the other defining factors of the credibility of the page.

From a digital marketing perspective, this will be enormous since marketers will get a direction, and they’ll be able to create a definite funnel for optimising the user experience.

In a nutshell

The combination of UX and SEO goes beyond the ranking factor. No doubt, an enhanced user experience is essential to rank higher on search engines, but at the same time, it is vital for engaging and converting the users. When that starts happening, the rank automatically improves. What’s important is patience and perseverance, for this can be a long and tiring race. However, in the end, hard work pays off. So, keep innovating, keep trying, and keep revising your practices until you stumble upon a strategy that stretches beyond the competitors’ understanding.