SXO: Search Experience Optimization, this term appeared a few years ago is more and more fashionable in the heterogeneous field of SEO. It must be said that developments in Google are that the traditional factors, roughly summarized in the triptych: technical – content – links are now insufficient to position well and especially convert! This conception of SEO is becoming obsolete, because Google Search continues to improve its user-oriented development, including the calculation of metrics from the behavior of Internet users …
It is in this context that the SXO is evoked to replace the "has been" term of SEO. But before giving the definition that seems most relevant to me, we must give back to Caesar what is Caesar's. It's SEO Workers, a German agency that used this acronym for the first time to highlight the influence of the user experience on SEO. One of the best references to this topic comes from an article by Ben Potter on the Ecoconsultancy blog in 2012.
His article begins with this remark "For me, the term search engine optimization (SEO) has always been fatally unsuitable. He suggests that we only optimize our content to meet search engine criteria. While search engines do not buy products, it's the people who do it. "
The positioning logic in SEO has had its day! It's time to get into a logic experienceif not already done for some. "Google Search is built for users, not sites," said Eric Schmidt, Google's big boss. Between site editors and users of its engine, the giant Montain View has clearly chosen to focus on the experience of its users.
What is SXO?
The Search Experience Optimization is for Ben Potter the combination of SEO techniques and optimization of conversion: SXO = SEO + UX. It's the user who is the focus of concern, not Google. Ensuring a quality user experiencewe manage to increase conversions and therefore sales. Is not this the end goal of your site? So far, the majority of SEOs are focused on positioning KPIs and neglecting, or even ignoring, KPIs related to visitor behavior.
Make the user experience an ultimate goal
My vision of SXO is more global, that is, the user experience does not start on your site, but from the Google results pages to your visitor's loyalty. It is a virtuous circle where the user's experience is no longer the last wheel of the coach.
Here are the kinds of questions that are now becoming essential: will users like to see the excerpt on the results page? Once on the site page, will they confirm their wishes and order online? Will they be willing to leave a positive opinion on your site spontaneously? Do they want to put the page in their favorites, talk to their friends and come back?
The 5 steps of SXO
How to implement an SXO oriented strategy in the global sense? In my opinion, here are the steps to follow:
1. Creation of added value content … and adapted to the request of the surfer
Nothing innovative will you tell me! Google Panda has already been there … But beyond the quality, does your content match well with the user's intent? Have you created personas? Or buyer personas if it is an e-commerce site? It's more than a question of quality, if your content does not match what the user is looking for, Google will know it quickly and you will downgrade. And of course your visitor will not come back.
If your content matches the search, the first basic step is done, but the path is still long! Is this content well put forward? Does your surfer access the information easily and quickly? I will develop these points in the next paragraphs.
2. Optimize your visibility on SERP's
The only 10 blue links previously displayed on the results pages have become rare. Google Maps and images, featured snippets, sitelinks, Google Shopping … The SERPs of 2016 are very rich, and getting out of the box is more difficult. This is why we must use all the innovations and possibilities to distinguish ourselves. Here are some solutions:
- Use rich snippets: if you have not yet exploited the opportunities offered by structured data, it's high time! This is the same in SEA with ad extensions;
- Featured snippets : recent innovation of Google. It offers maximum visibility to sites considered as sources of information by the search engine. The featured snippets also confirm an interesting trend of recent years: A growing number of Internet users obtain the information sought directly from the results pages and do not visit sites. Google provides the information on the SERP, it is "the engine of answers". So to appear on a search in featured snippet, you must be the best answer to the user's question. (example below);
- Take advantage of Google My Business data: a must if you adopt a local strategy. Another recent feature of Google: from now on, even the opinions left on Facebook can appear on the SERPs.
3. Optimize landing pages
The traditional view of SEO combines optimization on page, among other things, adding additional content to incorporate keywords. We must definitely abandon this vision or at least qualify it. Of course, the page must highlight a semantic field associated with the user's requestbut that's far from enough to make your user friendy page and surpass your competition.
There are several techniques to improve the user experience such as eye tracking and heat map. By identifying the least watched or clicked parts of the page, you can set up tests to improve efficiency and, where appropriate, conversion.
Tools of this type are now more numerous and affordable than before. Even small structures can use them, here are some of them:
Another method – which you can use in parallel with the previous ones – is to perform A / B tests, also known as split testing. It is well known: "the tastes and the colors, it is not discussed!", Yes, but it is tested … You have created a page for your visitors and not for you, then the best way to know what It works by testing your target interactions by providing two versions of your two-sample A and B page from your audience.
If you are new to A / B Testing, it is better to test only one variable (the color of a button for example). If you are more comfortable with this technique, you can perform multi-variable tests (MVT testing).
4. Optimize performance
This is a parameter that is already well known to SEOs. It is even more essential with the highlighting of the user experience by Google.
Before you think of the complex optimizations offered by the various SEO tools, start with optimize images and set up a cache system. This is generally enough to significantly improve the loading time of a page. But if you can do more, then we must not deprive ourselves, users and Google will appreciate!
5. Retain your visitors
This is perhaps where the SXO takes its full dimension. The traditional SEO tries to position a page in first position of Google, and when this is realized, it is considered that the "job is done".
What about the user's return to the site? After so much effort to be visible and "perceived" as Google's best response to the targeted query, it remains an important step for the loop to be completed, it's about retaining this visitor. Some will say that this is the responsibility of the web marketer. For me, this is the continuity of the work of SEO version SXO as defined above, that is to say optimization of the entire research path, and loyalty is one of them. There are many benefits to be gained from loyalty: lower acquisition costs, branding, etc. It's an essential part of your strategy.
As for the techniques that allow to retain a visitor, they are so many that it requires an article in its own right. The resources on the web about it are not lacking. I can mention remarketing which is one of the flagship strategies.
In any case, once a visitor has had a rewarding experience on your site or page, chances are he will come back or even share this URL with his friends. From there, we can say that the job of the SXO is successful 🙂
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