The 4th pillar of SEO: User Experience

We have all relied on the traditional three pillars (Technology, Content and Authority) of SEO to become visible in search engines like Google and Bing. However, with the new advances of machine learning and Google’s goal to deliver the most relevant experience to the user, we believe a fourth pillar should be included in your SEO strategy. We would like to introduce to you the fourth pillar of SEO: User Experience.

Lots of online growth strategies include the use of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). For many years and still today SEO has helped companies become organically visible in search engines such as Google and Bing. We have all relied on the traditional three pillars of SEO to do so: Technology, Content and Authority. However, with the new advances of machine learning and Google’s goal to deliver the most relevant experience to the user, the search engine results page (SERP) has changed a lot. As a result, SEO tactics have changed as well. The traditional three pillars should still be used, but at DotControl we believe that we should also include a fourth pillar in your SEO strategy. Yes, you didn’t read that wrong. We would like to introduce to you the fourth pillar of SEO: User Experience.

What is the fourth pillar?

The fourth pillar of SEO is User Experience. User Experience is defined as the study of how users perceive and interact with an online interface. By analyzing user experience on a website, we can identify how users behave on the website and identify points where users get confused or simply leave the platform. A few examples of tactics to improve user experience are having a fast page load speed, having a low bounce rate, mobile responsiveness, and having an effective and clear header and menu structure.

The goal of user experience is to provide an interface which effectively helps users find what they are looking for. Think about it: would you rather simply have visitors on your website? Or would you want to have visitors who complete a desired action on your website? Chances are that you want people to do something on your website, for example: complete a purchase, read an article, or fill in a form. After all, you didn’t invest that much money in a website for it simply to be found via search engine, did you?

Why is User Experience a pillar?

Coincidentally, big search engines like Google share the above standpoint. Google’s goal is to provide the most relevant experience to its users. It does this by already by answering question in the SERP for example. However, the algorithm that determines the ranking of organic search results has also been adapted to provide the most relevant results. Search engines now use various metrics to track user engagement. An example is the Google Core web vitals update. In this update, user friendliness of a website became an important factor in the ranking the organic search results. Google looks at three factors: Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID) and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). LCP related to the loading of the website. FID relates to interactivity on the site. CLS is all about visual stability.

Google Core Web Vitals

The Google Core Web Vitals

Since the roll out of the Google Core web vitals update, websites that have a good user experience are starting to rank higher than those that don’t. Google continues to bring out updates where websites with great user engagement gain a higher ranking. Focusing on implementing effective UX design will dramatically boost your user engagement metrics which will subsequently influence your overall search ranking. So, have you called your UX designer yet?

How do all the four pillars work together?

SEO requires a holistic approach. All four pillars – Content, Authority, Technique and User Experience - work together to generate the best results in organic visibility. Everything is interdependent. Having your page indexed and crawled properly [technique], does not yet ensure that you can rank well if your content does not match relevant searches. Optimizing content is not enough if your page cannot be crawled. Setting up your technique and content perfectly is still not enough if you don't have enough authority. And if your content, technology, and authority are on-point, but your user experience is bad, you’re not going to rank very high. It is important to look at the broader, holistic picture, before we dive into the specific SEO (micro) tasks. Before you start sketching your SEO tactics and strategy, be sure to look at the situation from a macro perspective and set an overarching objective. From there, it’s important to define the micro steps to get to that objective.

What now?

SEO specialists have been trained to look and act upon the first three pillars for years. Now, it’s time to include that fourth pillar. In our opinion, that means inviting a User Experience designer to the table.