Much has been debated about the relationship between UX and SEO and the common aspects that should be considered in an effective positioning strategy. Learn about SXO, an SEO technique that provides a perspective focused on user experience, taking up UX concepts to bring a site to the top search results.
SEO, as we know it, has become “obsolete,” and SXO has emerged.
It seems like a pretty convincing statement, and if we take into account the constant changes in search engine algorithms, we could easily say that it is not entirely wrong.
But, before taking this statement as an absolute truth, let’s understand in depth what SEO and SXO are about to conclude if SEO is truly obsolete or still valid.
What is SXO, Search Experience Optimization?
SXO, or Search Experience Optimization, is an optimization approach that expands traditional SEO techniques by focusing on user experience. It seeks to improve the quality of user experience in search engines by providing relevant, helpful, and quality content, enhancing website structure and design, and ensuring that the site loads quickly.
We must understand that users look for search results with information that meets their needs and expectations. Therefore, SXO focuses on providing a positive experience for users, helping them find the information they are looking for quickly and easily.
Users with a satisfactory search experience are more likely to interact with content, stay on the website longer, and perform desired actions, such as purchasing products, consuming information, or acquiring or contracting services.
It is important to know that search engines value user satisfaction and tend to reward websites that offer a better search experience, with better positions in the SERPs, benefiting the SEO strategy.
How is SXO related to SEO?
SEO stands for “search engine optimization.”
Its objective is to improve the visibility and ranking or positioning of the contents of a website. To do this, the SEO specialist uses keyword selection, quality content creation, link building, and content optimization, among others.
While SEO has a more technical vision regarding content optimization, SXO focuses on optimizing the user experience when interacting with a website.
This involves ensuring that the site is easy to navigate, has good loading speed, and that the content is relevant and valuable, providing a positive experience for users.
Search algorithms have become more sophisticated and now consider many more factors than before, including user experience, which is where SXO comes into play.
Unlike SEO, where we always consider attracting new users to the site through visibility and positioning strategies, SXO also seeks to keep them active on the website and guide them towards converting them from users to customers.
SXO is an SEO technique that combines SEO, UX, and content.
SXO could be perceived as an evolution of SEO. In addition to focusing on organic results through content optimization, it provides a positive experience to site users from the moment they query until they satisfy their need for information.
Keys that differentiate SXO from SEO
In recent years, SEO has evolved significantly and has techniques that focus on getting users to return to a website. The key is to provide a positive experience that motivates them to repeat their visit.
It is no longer enough to select keywords for a search or put longer texts than the competition. User experience (UX) has become fundamental and requires a change of mindset in the content marketing approach; this approach is called SXO.
SXO proposes that the quality of content is crucial, but its value fades if not aligned with user expectations.
The concept of “good content” implies leaving behind the traditional SEO approach and moving towards optimizing the search experience concerning relevance, usability, and usefulness, that is, focusing the content on the user’s search intent and responding to it from the search engines themselves.
In this list, we explore the most relevant and crucial factors that you should take into account to understand SXO in a positioning strategy:
Content relevance is essential in SXO. It is about creating valuable and helpful content for users, not content full of keywords in titles, descriptions, or paragraphs, as some traditional “SEO agencies” in Colombia usually do.
An SXO strategy in content must:
- Address user needs.
- Answer questions clearly.
- Provide quality information at the right time.
- Have a clear structure and intuitive navigation.
- Have reliable and verifiable content.
Beyond optimizing a specific keyword in the content, SXO proposes optimizing content for a search intent.
By understanding your users’ needs and your brand’s relevant topics, you can offer content that aligns with their search intentions and is helpful to them.
To improve retention, consider using formats that allow the reader to extract valuable information quickly without having to explore other content on the web:
- Use infographics.
- Use lists.
- Use blockquotes or highlights.
- Highlight important texts in bold or highlight.
- Use calls to action to guide the user to other complementary content.
- Differentiate links.
- Write short paragraphs.
- Summarize complex ideas.
The SXO also involves optimizing content to be more “talky” or conversational, providing a new experience to users who use voice assistants such as Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa.
Voice search queries are often more conversational than traditional optimization strategies. However, they are not unknown to SEO. To start optimizing your voice search experience, keep in mind the following:
- Voice search queries are typically longer and more specific and are often made in the form of questions.
- Optimizing content to answer questions can improve the voice search experience.
- Since voice queries are longer, incorporate long-tail keywords that match how users speak and ask about content.
- Organizing content into lists, heading sections, and direct answers to common questions can be helpful in voice search experiences.
Website structure or architecture
Website structure plays a crucial role in the search experience.
A well-structured website facilitates user navigation and allows them to find the information they are looking for quickly and easily because it becomes intuitive navigation.
Don’t force your site users to navigate the way you understand your business. Look for a standard code so that they can find the information you offer intuitively.
Organize the content into logical categories and use a hierarchical structure to make it easier to understand which content is transactional, which is informative, and which takes you to other content on the site.
This also helps search engines understand the relationship between pages, their content, and how that information responds to the users’ queries.
A few years ago, Google introduced an update to its ranking algorithm called “Core Web Vitals,” which focuses on specific aspects of the user experience, such as loading speed, interactivity, and visual stability.
Including algorithms that evaluate loading speed means that users expect pages to be available quickly from any device and with any internet connection.
Users do not want to wait until they can interact with the information, much less reload the page because something is not working right.
A good SXO strategy prioritizes actions to improve pages with the most new user visits and poor loading speed. Thus, we can avoid high bounce or abandonment rates and even improve conversion rates regarding virtual stores.
In addition to optimizing the information so that it loads quickly, you can:
- Organize the most relevant information first so the user can quickly identify and use it.
- Eliminate unnecessary elements from navigation on mobile devices to promote more accessible and intuitive navigation.
- Organize navigation elements such as menu, buttons, calls to action, and others so that they are quickly visible and can be used without loading the entire page.
- Prevent the movement of elements during site loading.
- Avoid elements such as pop-ups or interstitials unless the user performs some action that triggers them.
- Use descriptive images that help the user have a quick context of what they read; sometimes, an infographic is enough to understand the content.
Other aspects of SEO, such as reducing image size, improving file loading, using CDNs, and caching, can help improve loading speed and user retention. Still, the SXO gives the guidelines for that information to be valuable and relevant when responding to a search intent, in addition to loading fast.
Today, mobile responsiveness is essential in SXO and SEO.
With more users using mobile devices to search, your website must be optimized for smaller screens.
Adopt a responsive design that automatically adapts to different screen sizes. This will ensure that loading speeds are much faster and that users can browse and consume your content regardless of their device.
To optimize the search experience, you can identify users’ search intent depending on the device on which they browse. Searching for information from a mobile device is not the same experience as from a laptop.
If some of your content has many searches from mobile devices, you should consider the possibility of using keywords that users search from their cell phones.
Also, it would be best to optimize how you present your content to the user so they can find the most relevant information easily and quickly from a mobile device.
Two practical examples would be:
If the search intent is informational via a mobile device, optimize your content to answer user queries with short, easy-to-read text that you can find quickly.
If the search intent is transactional through a mobile device, optimize relevant information such as price, delivery time, transaction cost, and everything that allows making a quick decision. Other information may be available through a “read more” button.
Eliminating some design elements, highlighting texts, reducing sizes, or giving the option to send the information to read later can improve the experience between the user and your content, depending on the device.
The SXO considers understanding the customer journey very valuable when optimizing the search experience.
Some methodologies identify the “customer journey” as the possibility of creating content in each step the user takes, from their first contact with the brand to the purchase, over time and through different channels.
The SXO considers that each step within the “customer journey” must be designed to gain a positive perception through the content, aligning with the need for information that each user has in each stage or step and guiding them to conversion.
To improve the SXO of a website, you should consider the following:
Provide informative content in the discovery stage, answering users’ main questions about topics related to your company, products, or services.
Provide comparative content in the consideration stage, answering users’ main doubts about your products or services compared to those of the competition. Highlight the advantages, functionalities, features, or uses.
Provide complete information that allows you to eliminate friction in the purchasing decision with precise data, benefits, and explanatory texts that take the user to the decision stage.
Provide quick access to conversion, visible buttons, forms, calls to action, and contact points where they can purchase your products or services.
SXO is to help users have adequate information at each stage of the purchase according to their needs, from their initial search to conversion.
Featured snippets are a valuable opportunity to appear at the top of search results and provide quick, relevant answers to user queries.
Being on Google pages with featured content increases your brand’s visibility while giving users the perception that your information is more reliable than your competition's.
SEO suggests that in order to appear in featured snippets, you must create content that gives clear and concise answers to frequently asked questions, have relevant information, optimize keywords according to search intent, build valuable links, and ensure the data is well structured. In short, ensure the pages have SXO.
Creating content focused on the user experience and improving the quality of information by responding to their searches and queries helps generate outstanding content.
By getting featured snippets with SXO, you can offer the user the following:
Relevant information about your products or services from the SERP (Google results page).
Quick and direct answers to their questions, achieving brand positioning.
A preview of your content prevailing over the competition’s content.
Relevant information through the formats that Google uses to meet your information needs quickly and easily.
Structured data helps search engines better understand your site and provide more accurate responses needed to optimize featured snippets, and it also helps optimize the voice search experience.
What are the benefits of SXO?
- Provides intuitive and efficient navigation tailored to keywords with high search intent.
- Offers relevant and meaningful content that specifically meets user needs.
- Increases conversion rates.
- Helps create a unique and attractive design that allows you to differentiate yourself from the competition regarding information and usability.
- Uses relevant and user-focused keywords to improve positioning.
- Optimizes the purchasing process to minimize user friction by converting them into customers.
- Optimizes content for voice search.
- Strengthens brand positioning through a coherent and positive user experience.
- Maximizes the time spent and user interaction with the site.
- Optimizes conversion rate through action-focused UX design.
- Optimizes the mobile experience, from information search to conversion, to adapt to user expectations.
- Personalizes content to improve its relevance to the individual user.
- Uses optimized meta descriptions and titles to improve click-through rate and user interaction based on search needs, not keywords.
As search engines continue to evolve to prioritize user experience, the importance of SXO will increase.
SXO expands the concepts of SEO to include the user experience at the center of optimization, including search results, the relevance of the content found, site loading speed, mobile responsiveness, and other factors.
The goal of SXO is to ensure that users not only visit a website but also have a positive experience once they are there. This can lead to longer time on site, lower bounce rates, and ultimately higher conversion.
Although SEO is still relevant, websites that offer a good user experience are more likely to rank higher in search results than those using traditional SEO strategies. Therefore, SXO is essential for visibility and the performance of a website in search engines.
SXO should not be viewed as a replacement for SEO but rather as a complementary component of an SEO strategy.
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