The Intersection of UX and SEO Content
The term User Experience (UX) is popping up all over recently. New courses at universities and company job postings are emerging more and more, everyday. In a recent WebServes blog post we explained ways to improve UX on your site. That post has been getting a lot of views recently, which got me thinking; where is Search Engine Optimized (SEO) content writing and UX headed? And how are they connected?
The SEO buzzword for the last few months has been ‘content,’ and, as an English Major myself, I’d like to say that I have always believed this to be true, but it took an algorithm change by Google Search Rankings to bring many others to my camp. The intersection of content and User Experience is now the key prize for the Internet marketer and SEO strategist. Quality content must also be accessible, easy to navigate, and esthetically pleasing. Herein lies the artform of UX and SEO Content.
The intersection of Search Engine Optimized (SEO) Content and User Experience (UX) provides us with these signs to help us on our route:
Sign 1: SEO Content is only as good as its surrounding cast and presentation (I've said this before here)
I began this thought process while reading an article on the Harvard Business Review Blog Network entitled 'Your Company Is Only as Good as Your Writing' in which the author, Kyle Wiens lays out his thoughts on what makes quality content. While I do not wholeheartedly agree with all of his assertions, I do agree that writing is a complex and difficult task; even an art, if you will indulge me. He was precisely correct when he said:
We like to think that we learned everything there is to know about grammar in our 10th grade English classes, but the conventions are constantly changing. The standards shift. That makes writing hard — and difficult to talk about.
Doesn't this sound an awful lot like SEO and much of web development, for that matter?
Language is constantly melding, coding is constantly evolving, and the way that users want that information presented to them is constantly changing. Wiens, CEO of iFixit
, explains that his organization is built upon a collaborative framework because of these evolutions. He sites "that topics that are the most uncomfortable are usually the ones that need the most discussion. Writing is one of them. It's a conversation that is crucial to have — with everyone." An open forum is a valuable asset to have in UX and in SEO writing, They are becoming more interconnected. Idea exchange, and ways to keep creativity flowing, as I have discussed in our previous post, 4 Steps to Keep Your Organization Creative
are crucial to keeping companies and organizations relevant, but relevancy is only as good as the SEO content and UX that surround it and explain it.
George Orwell can teach us a thing or two about UX and SEO content
George Orwell can teach us a lot about content writing, as you might already have figured, but he also schools us on SEO and UX, too. Orwell knew more about these subjects than you would expect.
To be fair, Orwell was only professing good journalistic writing when he wrote:
- Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech that you are used to seeing in print
- Never use a long word where a short one will do
- If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out
- Never use the passive voice when you can use the active
- Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday equivalent
- Bonus: Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous!
These seem rather banal to anyone who has ever read a newspaper, but the Gotham Writers' Workshop
adds that Orwell:
"in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus:
What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?
And he will probably ask himself two more: Could I put it more shortly? Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?
Orwell professes SEO and UX standards in these questions (even though he didn't know he was). Any SEO strategist knows that current/relevant pictures and images are 'sticky' and encourage many more 'shares' and 'likes.' And as a UX developer, it is always best to put the most relevant information in the appropriate place, and even though Orwell knew nothing about things being 'clickable,' he definitely knew what made text more accessible and popular. Some of our greatest knowledge can be dredged from past experiences.
UX and SEO content still work along the same principles of early journalism, it's just easier to access the archives
On his Webcredible blog, 5 web writing tips – Content & UX
, Alex Anderson also uses Orwell as a starting point in much the same way that I have. He adds to Orwell's premise by citing another journalistic tool, front-loading content
: "The first line of each paragraph should contain the conclusion for that paragraph." This idea is popular, and gets a lot of initial traffic to websites because it has a 'hook' to draw the reader into the content. If the paragraph begins by saying that it will answer your question, then you are very likely to continue on and click through to the content, but I am wary of this only because many sites say that they are answering your question but often are aggregating information from other sites, or just setting the hook and not giving much in the way of information. While it is a great way to draw people in, until Google can write the algorithm in such a way that it eradicates aggregating sites, quality content with h1, h2, and keyword rich content should be all you need, without the need for a strict 'first line stating the conclusion' method.
If you are interested in reading more about Search Ranking tips, like the ones that I just mentioned, check out our previous blog
on Search Ranking Correlations.
UX and SEO Content styles are evolving and changing month after month, but the thing that stays the same is that they are interconnected and intertwined. What do you think is next in the evolution?