Without thinking about the expectations of the user, it is impossible to accurately measure content quality. In relation to online searches, ensuring quality content means moving beyond search engine optimization and user experience alone to search experience optimization or SXO. A person’s search begins and ends on a search engine. This is true for people who use local searches or broader internet searches that are not specific to a location.
Search experience is not the same as user experience. With UX, the focus is only on the experiences of people on the website. SXO seeks to improve the experiences of people when they are still in the search process. To optimize user search experience, it is important to understand how Google measures it and how to put those metrics to use in SXO strategy development.
Table of Contents
- What Is SXO?
- Why Is Search Experience Optimization Important?
- Understanding Google’s Evaluation Criteria
- How To Improve SXO
- How To Measure SXO
- Maximizing the Effectiveness of a Search Experience Optimization Strategy
What Is SXO?
SXO is a set of techniques or methods that are designed to create a better or more satisfying user experience for people on search engines. It incorporates combined aspects of UX and SEO to provide ways to meet the needs of users and answer specific questions. The approach puts the optimization of search engine user experience as a key priority for contributing toward the success of both UX and SEO as well.
Why Is Search Experience Optimization Important?
Good SXO is important for inspiring the desired action. That may be to request a quote, attend a webinar, buy a product or do something else. For most entities, SXO is important because it increases sales volume and conversions when it is approached correctly. Companies that rank higher on Google and offer an excellent search experience reap better rewards.
When users have a good search experience that leads them to what they are looking for, they are more likely to be satisfied customers. Those satisfied customers are more likely to become loyal ones who make more purchases in the future. Being vigilant about SXO is also important for regular content improvement, consistency in marketing strategies, powerful branding and much more.
Understanding Google’s Evaluation Criteria
In many cases, about 60% of site visitors only access one page and do not take any action. Only about 10% take some form of action. Why do they leave? Why do they not interact at all? These are some important questions that Google seeks to find the answers to in its analyses. For website owners, it helps to understand what Google considers in evaluating the search experience. These are factors Google considers:
- Short clicks, which are quick jumps back to Google from a site, are not good signs.
- Long clicks, which are delays before users return to Google, are better than short clicks.
- Click-through rate is a percentage of how frequently searchers choose a certain result in comparison to the frequency of it being displayed.
- Pogo-sticking occurs when searchers bounce back and forth between different search results.
- Next clicks occur when users select a result after pogo-sticking or initiate a new search and click on a result.
- Next searches happen when users start new searches.
- Second search click rate is when a previous result moves higher because of a previous click or a custom search.
Of all these items, the next click is one of the most crucial indicators to Google about what users are looking for when they search. The key to remember is that Google wants clear, useful answers to deliver to them. When people search using questions on Google, they often see a list of questions and links to pages with answers. In addition to the question the searcher asks, there are similar questions. Since Google’s algorithms are designed to satisfy user intent, displaying similar questions that users may ask next can save them an additional search. Those similar questions can be useful to website owners as well.
How To Improve SXO
After learning what Google is looking for, it is possible to develop a strategy to improve search experience optimization. A key goal is to end the Google user’s search by providing the right information for the type of query. Thinking about what users are searching for and how to provide sufficient answers is only the beginning. To construct a strategy with a favorable outcome, there are three other important phases to improve the user’s expectations.
Understand Searcher Intent
Keyword data research provides some of the most valuable answers in terms of finding out what searchers want. Some people use online tools to look at basic information about keyword data. It helps to look for modifiers to see what people want and examine keywords on specific types of pages that have high traffic. Some keywords will be vague and may not indicate any intent. For example, if a lot of people simply search for the name of a major business, it is hard to know what they want to find. However, if they add words about directions, payment options or something else specific, it is easier to know what they want.
How frequently people add certain modifiers can reveal a lot about common searches. It may not always be easy to identify modifiers for some businesses. Not all entities rank for some queries. Using a professional program or service can be a valuable choice to reveal more about user intent, motivators and other metrics that can ultimately help build a powerful SXO strategy. Professional services can reveal insights that many online tools may not catch.
Optimize the Site and Content
Once the keyword research is complete, the next step is optimizing the website and what users find on it. One reason why users quickly return to Google is because a site functions poorly or loads too slowly. Interactive content, speed, functionality and appearance are all important for preventing a searcher from going back to the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages).
Remember that the key is to end the Google search. Companies must ensure that complete, specific answers are easily accessible to the searcher. Today, more than 50% of searches are performed on mobile devices. This emphasizes the importance of having a website properly optimized for mobile devices. If a company does not have a mobile-friendly site, mobile searchers are more likely to quickly return to Google and click on a different result. There are other steps to take as well, and professional SEO agencies can help with this entire phase.
Develop a Search Experience Optimization Monitoring Strategy
To maintain a position as a search-satisfying website, it is also important to monitor and measure user behavior on the website. More in-depth information for this will be covered in the next section. Trends change, and some tend to change quickly today. This means that the way people search can also change in a short time, which is one main reason why monitoring and modifying the SXO strategy as necessary are both important. Also, searches can change for various products or services based on the season.
How To Measure SXO
Since website users cannot determine what the next click will be for each user, it helps to rely on important website metrics to provide clues about improvement. SEO professionals know how to analyze these metrics, use them to improve SXO and develop methods to monitor and adjust the strategy. These are some of the basic points to consider in measuring SXO:
- Bounce rate (Scroll-depth) shows users who have visited a website but quickly left without any interaction, and it is important to consider since pillar pages should have a low bounce rate and encourage clicks to other pages on the site. Scroll-depth comes in handy for pages where the reader read the entire page, found the answer, and leaves.
- Search engine ranking for keywords is a metric that shows if SEO methods and site content are on target, and rankings that show improvement may indicate a working strategy.
- Time spent on the site or page can show if the website or a page is interesting to users and is satisfying their queries.
- Organic traffic is a metric that shows if the content is reaching the target users and is useful to them.
- Conversion rates show if conversions from organic search visitors are increasing, which can indicate that the SXO strategy is working and you are receiving high quality traffic.
- Click-through rate is another ranking factor that shows how many site visitors arrived because they clicked on a SERP link. You can find this data in Google Search Console.
- Webpage Speed is a key factor in keeping visitors happy. You can test your website’s speed using PageSpeed Insights. If you use WordPress, Nitropack is a great tool for speeding up your website.
Those are a few metrics that site owners can analyze and measure on their own. However, professionals consider several other factors, study the competitors and study the market.
Maximizing the Effectiveness of a Search Experience Optimization Strategy
To emphasize a critical point, remember that SXO is not meant to completely replace concepts of SEO and UX. It incorporates them both. Search experience optimization is a new and deep topic that asks many questions. However, improving SXO on a website is not a simple or standardized task. For each website, it requires research, deep reflections to better understand user profiles, a clearer understanding of user needs and much more.
Like SEO strategies, search experience optimization strategies take time to yield results. Website owners will not see dramatic changes overnight. Keyword competitiveness, the age of the website, consistency and overall SEO and SXO strategies are some key factors that influence how long it takes to see results and how favorable they are. With the help of professionals, it is easier to ensure that UX, SEO and SXO strategies align and are designed to meet a company’s goals. SEO North can help business owners in Ottawa and throughout North America create effective strategies. For assistance developing an innovative SXO strategy, please contact SEO North.
What is SXO?
Published on: 2022-05-01
Updated on: 2024-01-12