Search Experience Optimisation: Why Traditional SEO is no Longer Enough for Your Business
Anyone who possesses even a moderate level of experience within the online community has likely been bombarded with a host of formulae for success over the years. Countless articles have touted the benefits of search engine optimisation, the importance of quality content and why it is necessary to leverage the scope of social media channels. Assuming that the average website owner chooses to follow these suggestions, it would only stand to reason that every portal in existence would be rising to the top of its game. As we all know, those who religiously adhere to such guidelines will still fail to reach their online potential. So, why might this be the case?
The first thing which should be appreciated is the rather nebulous nature of these overly used catchphrases:
- Content is king
- Always construct a quality website
- Engage with the reader
The main issue here is that terms such as “quality” and “engage” have not been properly defined within their context. In other words, who defines what is considered to be “quality” content and what does “engagement” signify to the average visitor?
The bottom line is that the statements above neglect to highlight a pivotal variable. What are the actual expectations of the end-user? If the material throughout your website fails to actively resonate with the visitor, it will never satisfy your marketing goals. This is why a lesser-known concept known as search experience optimisation (SXO) is one of the most fundamental building blocks of any successful online business. What are the basics of SXO? How does it differ from SEO? What are some of the core tenets of SXO and perhaps most importantly, how its this concept inextricably linked to content creation?
An Introduction to Search Experience Optimisation
So, what exactly is search experience optimisation? The simple answer is SXO represents a strategy which enables your website (and its associated content) to provide the most targeted solutions to the customer. From a more technical point of view, SXO seeks to bridge the gap between traditional SEO and modern levels of audience engagement. The thread which binds these two notions together involves the simple fact that the position of your website within a search engine results page (SERP) is ultimately determined by the experience of the average user as opposed to automated ranking algorithms alone.
Sounds simple, right? Well, yes and no. It is one thing to create fresh and relevant content that will better resonate with the visitor. It is an entirely different undertaking to fully appreciate how this experience can translate into a tangible result (such as a purchase or a subscription). This is why we have broken SXO down into three separate principles:
- The ability to establish yourself as a content expert.
- Ensuring that your website is fully functional.
- Including additional variables intended to offer a transparent sense of authoritative trust.
It should now be clear to see that leveraging the true scope of search experience optimisation will require a bit more than a cursory understanding of the basic concepts. Let us therefore delve into some top professional tips which will enable you to incorporate the advantages highlighted above into your current marketing campaign.
Step 1: Content Uniqueness and Authority
Although content may be king, this does not necessarily signify that it will ascend to the digital “throne”. Simply plugging in targeted keywords and embedding a smattering of hyperlinks is no longer enough. The reader needs to gravitate towards what it is that you are saying (think of a memorable sales pitch as opposed to one that was read from a generic script). So, here are six important recommendations from Neil Patel which should be adopted at an early stage:
- Keep the material clear and to the point.
- Use a hierarchical model in order to present pertinent information in the beginning.
- Make the content easy to like and share throughout other platforms.
- Include images and/or videos when appropriate.
- Use catchy subheadings and properly spaced bullet points.
- Ask direct questions to the reader (again capitalising upon the problem notion of problem-solving mentioned earlier).
If you ever hope to utilise the power of search experience optimisation, you will need to go much further than simply adhering to the relatively skin-deep rules attributed to standard SEO practices.
Step 2: Ensure That Your Website is Functioning Properly
Expecting a poorly functioning website to magically gain followers and to turn a profit is akin to relying upon a vehicle with three wheels to safely arrive at a destination. This is why a portion of SXO also involves functionality. Although this may seem altogether obvious, countless portals are sloppily constructed and are sacrificing inbound traffic on a daily basis.
Addressing Page Load Times
One critical point to reinforce is the average attention span of a human. Believe it or not, studies have shown that no fewer than 47 per cent of all users expect that a website will load within less than two seconds. A massive 40 per cent will subsequently navigate elsewhere if the site in question requires more than three seconds to appear. So, make sure that your HTML coding is up to speed. Let’s also not fail to mention that Google is extremely prejudiced against pages which have a tough time loading. The good news is that there are many online tools which can help you determine if your portal requires a bit of tweaking.
The Layout of Your Website
Page load times are likewise related to the design and layout of your website. Not only should you be striving to provide a streamlined presentation, but the UX (user experience) will ultimately revolve around functionality. Here are some additional tips to keep in mind:
- Be sure to use the appropriate HTML tags for meta titles and descriptions.
- A navigation menu should be located at the top or left-hand side of each page.
- Include a call to action on a regular basis.
- Provide clear contact information.
- Use a hierarchical format (the most important or newest products should be presented first).
- Ensure that the entire website boasts a mobile-responsive design.
If any of these metrics are unclear, it is normally better to outsource them to a trained web design professional.
Dealing with Indexing Issues
Always remember that the proper tags and optimisations will enable visitors to find what it is that they are looking for. We should likewise mention that pages which are confusing to readers will likely appear obtuse and muddled to search engine algorithms. Thus, they could begin to rank lower (once again calling your online exposure into question). Regularly determine if any coding needs to be updated so that small technical issues can be averted.
Step Three: Flavouring Your Material with Authority, Freshness and Transparency
We are all aware that high-quality content receives more attention when compared to spurious strings of textual “fluff” intended to do nothing more than fill in the digital gaps. However, search experience optimisation takes this notion to the next level. Not only must your website display engaging and targeted material, but it should never be spun from other pages.
It is also prudent to address the question of evergreen content within this section. Timeless material (such as articles providing general advice or a straightforward product description) can sometimes be used to achieve long-term marketing milestones. While Google will not necessarily frown upon this strategy, a relatively new freshness algorithm” also highlights the fact that updated writing is looked upon more favourably. Furthermore, sites which are regularly updated will illustrate to their followers that the curators are well aware of the latest industry trends. After all, would you follow nutritional advice that was last updated in 2015 or an article that was released only a few months ago? Keeping your website fresh is always important.
Curating Authoritative Material
It seems as if every website in existence is home to the most trustworthy products or services. When the digital world is full of so-called “gurus”, how can the average consumer determine which one to trust? This is when authoritative material comes into play. The ability to imbue your website with a sense of transparency will earn the trust of your followers over time. There are several ways in which this can be accomplished. As the professionals at Search Engine Journal point out, here are some excellent (and simple) strategies to embrace:
- Leverage positive customer testimonials.
- Create objective articles on the latest and most relevant industry trends.
- Utilise media content to explain a product or service in greater detail.
- Embed outbound links to trustworthy portals.
The final point should be stressed to a greater extent. Remember that the ultimate intention of any outbound link is to build value. Spurious and/or unrelated linking is a sure-fire way to place the rankings of a specific page at risk. Furthermore, this method can even cause a reader to doubt what it is that you are claiming within the text.
Focus Upon the Key Elements of Your Text to Ensure Authority
Let us assume that you have recently created a new article thanks to the suggestions outlined above. Take a step back and read it as if you were an average visitor. Here are some questions to ask in order to ensure that you are properly employing search experience optimisation:
- Are you able to get the main gist of the article?
- Have elements such as bullet points and bold text helped to simplify and highlight the most important subjects?
- Are the most relevant keywords present and evenly distributed?
It is always prudent to review any content before it is published. This will enable you to spot and rectify any minor issues. You may also choose to have a friend or colleague peruse the text in order to obtain a more objective perspective.
Search Experience Optimisation: Crafting Content for the User
Search experience optimisation is really nothing new if you can appreciate the principles highlighted throughout this article. The acronym instead collates many existing marketing guidelines into a more palatable and concise format. However, the importance of this approach should never be taken lightly. When we consider that average online conversion rates hover somewhere between one and three per cent, it is clear that little should be left to chance in terms of the end-user experience.
Some portions of this article touched upon the technical aspects of website design and HTML coding. However, it can be argued that the type of content that you choose to create will ultimately determine how your site (and products) are perceived. This is why working with the professionals at Textbroker is always a wise choice. Not only are we innately familiar with the notion of search experience optimisation, but we can provide targeted solutions within a timely fashion.
Remember that search engines do not perform online searches. Consumers do. Therefore, be sure to adopt our SXO tips in order to enjoy sustainable results now and into the foreseeable future.
About our authorRon first arrived in Barcelona, Spain in 2007. Although initially pursuing a career in wealth management and finance, he learned that the content writing community provided the highest level of personal satisfaction while still being able to personally help clients. He has been a full-time professional writer since 2011. Some of his other interests include martial arts and bodybuilding.