It’s a divide that has existed almost as long as the internet: developers vs SEOs.
Both have their own agenda, both want to reach their own goals, and both have their own priorities.
They pull and push against each other, while your website languishes for both search and functionality. They won’t communicate, so you find yourself doubling on work wasting time running between the two ‘factions’.
As time goes on it starts to seem more trouble than it’s worth and as a result, you put all website work on the backburner.
But it’s not always the case. There are some instances where SEOs and developers work in harmony. This can often be because they are working for the same agency, such as here at Easy Website Design, where our inhouse developers and SEO engineers have collaborated on countless projects. But even if this isn’t the case, it doesn’t mean that they had to be at loggerheads. Quite the contrary.
In fact, when you think about it, they both want online success for you. So why the animosity? And more importantly, how can it be overcome?
Firstly there is a lack of understanding. Many SEOs don’t understand the landscape of developers, and many developers don’t understand the techniques used by SEOs. Then there is a divergence of goals and a ‘blinders’ approach. Developers want to make a functional website that looks great, while SEOs focus on a website that Google can understand and rank.
A developer might labour over a custom-built site, creating intricate and complex features and graphics, only for an SEO tech to point out that it doesn’t support key metadata that is crucial for the site to rank. At this stage there might be little or nothing that the developer can do without making major changes, so the developer is frustrated that their work isn’t being recognised and they are being blamed for lower rankings, and the SEO is frustrated that the developer isn’t making changes and the site isn’t ranking as well as it could.
But they both want a great website, and that’s the key.
How to Bridge the Divide
Communication is the only way to overcome the distance between these two specialisms.
Simple cross-training and open conversations about priorities can help both longterm. It’s essential that both the SEOs and developers are part of a website build from the start and their respective requests can be aired and balanced at an early stage, rather than trying a lengthy and often fruitless damage control strategy later on.
It doesn’t have to be hours and hours of discussions. An experienced SEO will know common pitfalls to avoid and confident developers will be able to explain their aims in a clear way.
At Easy Website Design, we base our site builds on the pillars of SEO from the start. Our developers and SEOs work together and we develop crossover skills as part of our ongoing professional development.
A Common Goal
Building a successful online presence requires collaboration between plenty of different parties, and developers and SEOs are just two of them. By starting with a shared vision that you can keep referring back to, and identifying client online success as your goal, you encourage cooperation throughout the process.
Having a team that takes pride in their work and are passionate about achieving online success for clients is crucial. This is what has allowed the team at Easy Website Design to build up a successful portfolio of websites that exceed our clients’ expectations in terms of aesthetics, functionality, user experience and SEO.
We have a team of highly experienced technical SEOs who are familiar with different website frameworks. Our front end developers know what needs to be done to make the back end development work. This all ties together to ensure we can make you rich or famous online, and in most cases both!
Are you considering a new website for your business or organisation? Contact us today for a free consultation or call on 0333 332 6396 to find out how our work stands out in the industry and what our clients love about working with us.
What is User Experience (UX)?
Simply put, UX is the experience of a user navigating through your website, usually to get information or complete an action.
Many factors affect UX and need to be considered if you wish to assess your own website’s UX. Is your site organised in a comprehensive manner? Is the navigation easy to access? Are the contents and categories easy to understand and engaging? Sites with poor UX will have a confusing and difficult to navigate structure. Users will be unsure of how to get the information they need and get ‘lost’ within different categories and sections, resulting in a frustrating and fruitless ordeal.
Usability, that is the degree to which something is able or fit to be used, plays a vital role in UX, describing how technically fit for purpose your site is. UX goes much further into the overall experience and how it is perceived by the user. As such, the terms should not be used interchangeably though there is a large area of overlap.
Does UX Affect SEO?
SEO is the process of optimising your website to rank as well as possible in search engine results. This includes showing search engines that your site is valuable and useful for users.
UX targets the way your site visitors interact with your website, and it influences SEO in two key ways. Firstly, search engines like Google assess website on many factors that will affect UX, such as site structure, readability, quality of content, ease of access for information. Secondly, Google takes user behaviour on your website as evidence of the quality of your site. A site with poor UX will frustrate visitors and cause them to leave your site quickly and go back to the search engine results page. This indicates to Google that the website is not useful for that particular query and it will start ranking it lower.
In this way, UX and SEO go in a circle of SEO bringing visitors to the website, UX dictating how they behave on the website, and this impacting the SEO which impacts how many visitors it can bring to the site.
Before you start switching up your navigation and changing your website theme, you need to understand how visitors are currently interacting with your site. The best way to do this is through Google Analytics and if you do not already have a free Google Analytics account, we would highly recommend signing up now.
Google Analytics provides an overview of who is visiting your site and two behaviour metrics relevant to UX: bounce rate and session duration.
Bounce rate refers to the number of visitors who land on your site and leave without interacting with any other pages or elements. They metaphorically ‘bounce’ back out. This is a powerful indication of UX, as in general the higher the bounce rate, the fewer visitors are engaging with your site.
Session duration provides information on how much time a visitor spent on your site. The longer they spent, the more interesting they found the content, and the better you can rate your UX.
Improving UX and SEO
Now that you understand how UX and SEO go hand in hand and the metrics you can use to get feedback on them, you can use this information to make changes to your website. Here are three tips to get you started:
1. Using Clear and Appropriate Headings
Headings might not be something you think about, especially if your site is a few years old, but when a new user lands on your site, proper headings signpost your users to find the information that they need. Search engines also depend on headings to understand what a site is about, to better know what queries to rank it for. Would your headings make sense to someone who has never visited your website before?
2. Improve Site Navigation
In most cases you want visitors to browse through more than one page of your website (not least to reduce your bounce rate!) so it’s important that your navigation is organised in a clear and logical manner. Navigation is often an afterthought to web design but it is worth drafting a few options before deciding, as there are different ways to organise the information on your website.
Make sure you have a navigation menu on each page of your website for visitors who do not enter through the homepage. Ensure that navigation paths are kept short and include a search bar so if a user is unsure on the navigation, they have the option to search directly.
Over 50% of global online traffic comes through mobile devices, so don’t neglect the mobile experience and test your mobile navigation too.
3. Speed Up Your Site
The speed that your website loads on mobile and desktop devices are a ranking factor for search engines. Slower load speeds also increase the bounce rate as visitors become frustrated with the wait and leave. In these ways, a slow page speed negatively affects your SEO in a direct way, however, it also has an effect on the overall UX.
It can be difficult to judge the load speed since it will vary from device to device, and can be affected by location, cached pages etc. Use the Google PageSpeed Insights tool, a free tool that will tell you your speed for desktop and mobile, and how it would be rated by Google.