SXO: Search Experience Optimization, this term appeared a few years ago is more and more fashionable in the motley world of SEO. It must be said that the evolutions of Google mean that the traditional factors, roughly summarized in the triptych: technique – content – links are now insufficient to position themselves and above all convert! This conception of SEO is fast becoming obsolete, because Google Search continues its user-oriented improvement, in particular thanks to the calculation of metrics resulting from the behavior of Internet users …
It is in this context that SXO is used to replace the “has been” term of SEO. But before giving the definition which seems to me the most relevant, 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 user experience on SEO. One of the best references on this subject comes from an article by Ben Potter on the blog Ecoconsultancy in 2012.
His article begins with this remark, “To me, the term search engine optimization (SEO) has always been fatally misleading. He suggests that we only optimize our content to meet the criteria of search engines. While search engines don’t buy products, people do. ”
The positioning logic in SEO has had its day! It’s time to enter into a logic experience, if not already done for some. “Google Search is built for users, not for sites,” says Eric Schmidt, big boss of Google. Between site editors and users of its engine, the giant of Montain View has clearly chosen to favor the experience of its users.
What is SXO?
Search Experience Optimization is for Ben Potter the combination of SEO techniques and conversion optimization: SXO = SEO + UX. The user is the center of attention, not Google. By ensuring a quality user experience, we manage to increase conversions and therefore sales. Isn’t that the ultimate goal of your site? Until now, the majority of SEOs focus on positioning KPIs and neglect or even ignore KPIs linked to visitor behavior.
Make user experience an ultimate goal
My vision of SXO is more global, that is to say that the user experience does not start on your site, but from the Google results pages to the loyalty of your visitor. It’s a virtuous circle in which the user’s experience is no longer the last wheel of the coach.
These are the kinds of questions that are now becoming essential: Will users like to see the snippet on the results page? Once arrived on the site page, will they confirm their wishes and order online? Will they be willing to leave a positive review on your site spontaneously? Do they want to bookmark the page, tell their friends about it and come back to it?
The 5 stages of SXO
How to implement an SXO-oriented strategy in the global sense? Here are the steps to follow:
1. Creation of value-added content … and adapted to the user’s request
Nothing innovative will you tell me! Google Panda has already been there … But beyond the quality, does your content match well with the intention of the user? Have you created personas? Or buyer personas if it’s an e-commerce site? It’s just a question of quality, if your content doesn’t match what the user is looking for, Google will know very quickly and downgrade you. And of course your visitor is not likely to return.
If your content matches the search, the first fundamental step is done, but there is still a long way to go! Is this content well highlighted? Does your user have easy and quick access to information? I will develop these points in the next paragraphs.
2. Optimizing 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 SERP’s of 2016 are very rich, and to stand out from the crowd is more difficult. This is why we must take advantage of all the innovations and possibilities to stand out. Here are some solutions:
- Use rich snippets: If you have not yet taken advantage of the opportunities offered by structured data, it is high time! It’s the same thing in SEA with ad extensions;
- Featured snippets : recent innovation from Google. It offers maximum visibility to sites considered as sources of information by the search engine. Featured snippets also confirm an interesting trend of recent years: a growing number of Internet users get the information they want directly from the results pages and do not visit sites. Google provides information on SERP, it is “the answer engine”. So to appear on a featured snippet search, you must be the best answer to the user’s question. (example below);
- Use Google My Business data: essential if you adopt a local strategy. Another recent feature from Google: now even reviews left on Facebook can appear on SERP’s.
3. Optimizing landing pages
The traditional vision of SEO combines on-page optimization, among other things, with the addition of additional content in order to integrate keywords. We must definitely abandon this vision or at least qualify it. Of course, the page should highlight a semantic field associated with the user’s request, but that’s far from enough to make your page user friendly and outperform your competition.
There are several techniques to improve the user experience such as eye tracking and heat map. By identifying the parts of the page that are the least viewed or clicked on, you can set up tests to improve its efficiency, and if necessary the conversion.
Tools of this type are now more numerous and affordable than before. Even small structures can use them, here are a few:
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: “tastes and colors cannot be discussed!”, Yes, but it is tested… You have created a page for your visitors and not for you, so the best way to know what works is to test interactions with your target by offering two versions of your page A and B to two samples of your audience.
If you are new to A / B Testing, it is best 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. Optimizing performance
This is a parameter that is already well known to SEOs. It is even more essential with the promotion of the user experience by Google.
Before thinking about the complex optimizations offered by the various SEO tools, start with optimize images and set up a cache system. This is usually enough to significantly improve the loading time of a page. But if you can do more, then do not hesitate, Internet users and Google will appreciate!
5. Retain visitors
This may be where the SXO takes on its full dimension. Traditional SEO seeks to position a page in first position of Google, and as soon as this is done, we consider that the “job is done”.
What about the return of the user on the site? After so much effort made to be visible and “perceived” as the best response by Google to the targeted query, there remains an important step to complete the circle, it’s about retaining this visitor. Some would argue that it is up to the web marketer. For me, this is the continuity of the work of referencing SXO version as defined above, that is to say optimization of the entire research journey, 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 which make it possible to retain a visitor, they are so numerous that it requires an article in its own right. There is no shortage of resources on the web on this subject. I can cite remarketing which is one of the flagship strategies.
In any case, once a visitor has had a rewarding experience on your site or page, there is a good chance that they will come back or even share this URL with their friends. From there, we can say that the SXO job is successful réussi
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