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Do You Need an SXO Strategy?

You’ve got your search engine optimization strategy locked down, but what about your search experience optimization? Could SXO be impacting your organic search rankings? Here’s what you need to know about SXO and maximizing your visibility in search results.

May 23, 2024

6 m read

Although search engine optimization (SEO) targets search engines, you should never forget about the humans behind the screen. After all, what good are high Google rankings if the visitors you receive leave early due to a poor user experience?

You want people to find your content valuable and enjoy interacting with it. That’s where search experience optimization (SXO) comes in. In this article, we’ll explore what SXO is and why you should use it. We’ll also give you tips to maximize your returns.

What Is Search Experience Optimization?

Search experience optimization is the process of improving your site’s user experience. Naturally, there’s some overlap between this type of optimization and SEO because user satisfaction is also a key component of search engine algorithms. However, SXO focuses more on site architecture, navigation, and aesthetics than search engine optimization does.

The main motives behind a search experience marketing strategy usually include:

  • Maximizing content relevance to your target audience.
  • Ensuring your website looks good and is easy to navigate.
  • Minimizing loading times to reduce user frustration and bounce rates.
  • Improving accessibility for people of all abilities.
  • Improving site security to promote trust.
  • Ensuring that your site works seamlessly across many devices.

What Is the Aim of SXO?

Wondering why you should focus on user experience optimization? Well, several things SXO targets, such as site speed and mobile friendliness, are known Google ranking factors.

User engagement and satisfaction metrics also play an increasing role in search engine algorithms overall. Perfecting the way your site works goes hand in hand with quality content to propel your content to the top of the result pages.

Quality SXO can lead to:

  • Better User Engagement: People are less likely to leave the page if your site loads quickly and the navigation is smooth. More time spent on your site means more page views and user interactions.
  • Improved SERP Positions: Google prefers user-friendly sites, so SXO offers a ranking advantage when paired with SEO.
  • Higher Conversion Rates: Making your site easy to navigate and taking a people-first content approach helps eliminate roadblocks hindering conversions, maximizing returns from other forms of marketing.
  • Increased Trust: A clunky site harms credibility. Ensuring good performance across your website helps grow trust in your brand as part of your long-term customer retention strategy.
  • Improved Content Quality: One of SXO’s main aims is to give readers exactly what they want, creating the perception of higher content quality.

SXO vs. SEO

SEO and SXO work together to help you reach your marketing goals. However, it’s best to plan your strategy after understanding the similarities and differences between both types of optimization. This will allow you to avoid wasting time on tasks that overlap.

SEO targets on and off-page ranking factors such as keywords, backlinks, and the creation of high-quality, relevant content. While quality content is also part of SXO, this form of optimization prioritizes usability and engagement.

You could say that SEO primarily brings you traffic, while SXO helps you impress potential customers to maximize the returns from that traffic.

Here are a few other main differences between SEO and SXO:

  • Focus Areas: SEO prioritizes technical optimizations to increase search engine visibility. SXO aims to make each interaction with your site pleasant for existing and future traffic.
  • Success Measurements: You measure SEO success mainly through visibility metrics such as SERP positions and page views. However, you’ll prioritize bounce rates, conversions, and other engagement metrics with SXO.
  • Optimization Techniques: SEO tasks include things like keyword research and link building, whereas SXO tasks may include interface design and performance enhancements.

Despite their differences, both SEO and SXO aim to maximize the traffic to your website. They both also prioritize site speed, mobile friendliness, security, and content quality.

Tips for a Powerful SXO Strategy

Ready to implement the principles of search experience optimization? It’s easy to integrate SXO strategies into your SEO strategy since they share the same goals. Here are some essential tips to guide you.

1. Think About User Experience (UX)

The user experience (UX) encompasses all aspects of the experience users have when navigating and interacting with your website. Ideally, your website should be:

  • Fast.
  • Functional.
  • Accessible.
  • Aesthetically pleasing.
  • Filled with valuable content.

Your site’s UX is always a consideration during optimization. However, there are certain times when you may want to take a deeper look at the UX, including:

  • During website planning. Make UX a core consideration for new sites from the very beginning.
  • During content creation. When planning content, use bullet points, images, short paragraphs, and other layout choices to organize text and improve its readability.
  • When user behavior changes. Your site reflects your users, so it’s essential to take note of any behavior, technology, or industry changes that could affect UX expectations.

2. Refine Your User Interface (UI)

Your website’s user interface (UI) comprises menus, sidebars, and other elements that affect how your site presents content and how users navigate. Like with the UX, you’ll need to plan your UI from the very beginning.

However, there are also times when you may want to take another look and optimize your UI further. These include:

  • During content overhauls. Does the UI help your content shine? If not, it may be due for an update.
  • After user feedback or analysis. One way to improve your UI is to ask users what they like and dislike. You can also analyze interactions in the background using heat maps and other software.
  • When adapting to technological changes. When the world switched to mobile browsing, sites needed responsive layouts to adapt. It’s vital to assess any new change’s impact on your UI.

3. Prioritize Search Intent

Both SEO and SXO need to prioritize search intent optimization — refining content to match what users want.

When approaching user intent from an SEO POV, you need to look at the purpose behind a search. Does the user want information, or are they looking to buy something? Intent becomes another important variable to incorporate into keyword research.

Once you have the best keywords, your content must reflect the search intent. That’s where SXO takes over, and the priority shifts to giving users what they want through the information on the page.

For example, an article about the “best phones of 2024” may feature a list of devices and compare each. However, an article about “how phones work” would look entirely different, as it would describe the parts and technologies essential to mobile devices.

4. Write User-Friendly Content

User-friendly content can look different depending on the audience you’re targeting. However, these recommendations are universal:

  • Use clear and engaging titles that reflect what the content offers.
  • Follow a logical heading hierarchy to help both humans and search engines understand the content.
  • Break text into small paragraphs and lists to enhance readability.
  • Include images and videos to improve engagement and clarify textual information.

The overall architecture of your site also affects its user friendliness. Since many posts will fall into similar categories, ensure users have menus, category tags, and other ways to access the information they need quickly.

5. Create Audience Personas

Audience personas represent your customers, helping you understand what they want from content and how they behave when navigating your site. Follow these steps to create one:

  1. Decide who your ideal customer is.
  2. Source demographic information about them from industry reports and surveys (or use your own analytics if you’re targeting existing customers).
  3. Look for any demographic patterns, such as similarities in age or location.
  4. Check for similar psychographic patterns, such as shared goals and pain points.
  5. Identify shared behavioral patterns, such as the specific social media platforms your audience uses.

Draft a template persona with a fictional name and insert all relevant details, such as job roles, the problems the person wants to solve, and where they prefer to get information. Once you have this persona, you can apply its insights to your content planning. For example, if your persona tells you your ideal customer is relatively young, you might want to prioritize a more casual and upbeat tone.

6. Tailor Your SEO Efforts to Your Goals

SXO and SEO give the most benefits when paired, so it’s important to ensure you have a powerful and goal-driven SEO strategy in place. SEO goals should be:

  • Specific. Set real numbers defining the growth you want.
  • Measurable. Goals should be measurable so you can track performance.
  • Achievable. Aim high, but choose realistic goals to avoid wasted time and effort.
  • Relevant. Prioritize goals that will specifically improve business performance.
  • Time-Based. Set an appropriate deadline and aim to stay on track.

Ultimately, a lot goes into SEO. Check out our in-depth page about how to run a strategic SEO campaign for more information.

7. Measure SXO Results

Search experience optimization aims to improve website performance and user satisfaction. To track SXO effectiveness, you need to look at metrics that specifically measure these outcomes.

Here are a few of the most useful metrics:

  • Engagement Rate: The percentage of engaged sessions to total sessions for each page or a site.
  • Pages Per Session: The number of pages users view within one browsing session
  • Average Session Duration: How long users spend browsing your site
  • Conversion Rates: The percentage of users that complete a desired action, such as purchasing a product or signing up for a newsletter

You should also look at page performance and mobile-friendliness scores through services like Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

As it deals with user satisfaction, SXO can often feel more subjective than SEO. However, this can also be a strength because you can directly ask readers for opinions about your UX and UI. You can also access useful tools such as scroll maps, heat maps, and user recordings to learn more.

Quality SEO Focuses on Users, Too

Your users deserve the best version of your site. Thankfully, SEO can help you improve your both your site’s user experience and its ability to rank in search results. Not sure where to begin? Schedule a free consultation, and we’ll help you implement an SEO strategy that makes sense for your business.

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