Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has come a long way since its inception. What started as a simple strategy to please search engines has evolved into a holistic marketing approach, overlapping with web design, paid marketing, and more. It’s no easy feat, however, especially if you’re interested in reaping all of its benefits. With this in mind, here we’ll go through how SEO can improve your Customer Experience – and just how you can approach it.
What is Customer Experience (CX)?
First, let us briefly define Customer Experience (CX). Exact definitions will differ among marketers, but HubSpot’s tends to be widely accepted:
“Customer experience is the impression your customers have of your brand throughout all aspects of the buyer’s journey. It results in their view of your brand and impacts factors related to your bottom line, including revenue.”
This is a rather broad topic to handle in a single article. Still, it should be immediately apparent that CX depends on many factors. To paraphrase NNG’s Don Norman, from the first touchpoint to post-sale support, “CX is everything.” Starting with SEO and web design and ending with an incredible customer journey.
Convert More makes this point in no uncertain terms as well:
“It’s not just about getting people to your website – that’s only the first step. Next comes the buyer’s journey, where you need to guide those site visitors from showing interest to converting into actual customers.”
For a broader look into just how broad these experiences can be, since User Experience (UX) and Customer Experience (CX) are practically interchangeable in this context, here we can also cite Don Norman directly:
“User experience” encompasses all aspects of the end-users interaction with the company, its services, and its products. […]True user experience goes far beyond giving customers what they say they want or providing checklist features[;] there must be a seamless merging of the services of multiple disciplines, including engineering, marketing, graphical and industrial design, and interface design.”
How SEO can improve your Customer Experience
Still, let’s take things one by one. To highlight just how SEO can enhance your CX, here we can go through 5 fundamental, overlapping strategies. In order, consider the following.
Make sure to take into consideration all the necessary factors when it comes to SEO.
#1 Making a stellar first impression
First, a great experience hinges strongly on first impressions. In the digital sense, your website will often be your first touchpoint, making both SEO and CX optimizations vital. We’ve written about why you should care about page speed before, and Convert More dubs it “the halo effect.” In brief, your customers will judge your website before it even finishes loading.
For proof of this, consider Google’s own statistics on the correlation between loading times and bounce rates. They find that loading times over 1 second correlate with progressively higher bounce rates, as the average user expects loading times of 3 seconds or less.
As such, here SEO can ensure a customer journey can even begin. On-page optimizations like image compression and heavy theme culling will make for snappier loading times, ensuring a positive impression. General Landing Page Optimization (LPO) will also help tremendously, of course, leveraging SEO’s traffic generation gains.
#2 Crafting an optimal customer journey
With a lead generation funnel in place, the next step to upgrade your business site should come with customer journeys. Specifically by abiding by SEO and content marketing guidelines to structure your content in a logical, appealing way.
Discussing the subject and how SEO can improve your Customer Experience, PwC makes the following point:
“[Customers] want the design of websites and mobile apps to be elegant and user-friendly; they want automation to ease experience. But these advances don’t matter much if speed, convenience, and the right information are lacking.”
Indeed, nudging your customers along your sales funnel should come through proper internal linking, valuable information, and relevant prompts forward. Evidently, then, SEO has much to offer to customer journey crafting. From matching their search intent to presenting valuable information, knowledge bases, and self-help portals, every step pleases both them and search engines.
#3 Meeting the needs of eCommerce
Such SEO-friendly web designhas ample benefits for eCommerce specifically, too. With increasingly more businesses engaging in online sales, and the eCommerce industry facing unique challenges, this point bears mentioning.
Consider, for instance, the prevalent phenomenon of cart abandonment. Rates vary across industries but remain consistently high. Baymard Institute finds that the primary reasons for this are long checkout processes, hidden fees, and account requirements.
Account requirements, long checkout procedures and hidden fees are quite a problem.
These don’t fall squarely on SEO to address, of course, but they do overlap somewhat. In fact, quite a few eCommerce marketing strategies that boost sales rely on these exact foundations. Indeed, there are many different methods you can tryto address cart abandonment and boost sales at once, including:
- Simplifying your landing pages and checkout processes
- Boosting your email marketing strategies and expanding your subscriber lists
- Focusing on mobile users
- Leaning on social media shopping ads
- Fine-tuning your keyword research
If these sound familiar, it’s because they are. While the two are not identical, SEO does offer a wealth of benefits to online stores – and the CX therein.
#4 Proactively meeting your customers’ needs
Once you optimize your landing pages for SEO</a>, there are still more ways SEO can improve your Customer Experience. Most notably by leaning on informational content to proactively meet your customers’ needs.
Almost 10 years ago, in 2013, SearchEngineLand wrote on the informational content advantage:
“It’s estimated that approximately 50-80% of search queries are informational in nature. […] But usually, very little of that is informational content. The average website has a ratio of 80/20 navigational or transactional content to informational content — the opposite of how people are searching.”
Fast forward to today, and this remains true. Audiences still primarily look for informational content, and customers mostly look for actionable advice. And yet, few marketers truly follow SEO’s most logical tenet; matching the user’s search intent and customer phase.
Needless to say, SEO thrives on information-rich content. That’s the kind of content that ranks highest, boosting Domain Authority (DA) and producing engagement signals that fuel SEO.
In addition, it’s content that truly drives customer retention – whose value LinkedIn’s Shaumik Saha has stressed manifold in the past. Among other notable perks, he finds that acquiring a new customer costs up to 7 times more than converting an existing customer into a repeat customer.
Leaning on informational content is one of the ways SEO can improve your Customer Experience.
#5 Keeping your existing customers engaged
Finally, having touched on engagement signals, SEO and CX both rely heavily on customer retention and engagement. After all, great customer journeys will ultimately reassure Google and drive revenue alike. With this in mind, there’s no better place for both to thrive than social media.
In this regard, too, social media can offer the stepping stone through which SEO can improve your Customer Experience. Social marketers agree, according to SproutSocial, prioritizing community engagement above all else except for brand awareness.
HootSuite corroborates this, finding that social media activity can significantly enhance SEO. There is no concrete proof of a direct correlation yet, and Google’s John Mueller did deny one, but the two are evidently symbiotic. Indeed, consider how social media engagement can drive engagement to pages, enhancing their engagement signals. Or, more crucially for CX, how swift responses to queries and feedback can improve brand perceptions and foster loyalty. Those are the qualities customers seem to seek most, and social media-backed SEO is perfect for this role.
To summarize, CX and SEO are more interconnected than ever before. Tech-savvy audiences seek valuable content and relevant interactions, and so do search engines. With customer journeys now more complex than ever, SEO best practices can prove to be an invaluable asset. From simple on-page optimizations to tight website structures and information-rich content strategies, SEO can improve your Customer Experience in a plethora of ways. While brief, we hope this article helped illustrate this connection and gave you actionable inspiration.