Home page/SEO Guide/On-page/SXO (search experience optimization): What is it?

SXO can be defined as the set of techniques for optimizing user experience on search engines. It’s an increasingly common notion these days which corresponds to the quality of the user's experience in digital or physical environments. The term SXO is used or heard more and more often, and comes from the association between SEO for Search Engine Optimization, and UX for User Experience. The benefit of the acronym is to remind you that for an SEO strategy to be optimal, user experience is one of the most important criteria to consider. Indeed, UX is at the heart of the elements taken into account by Google algorithms. Don't panic, this word doesn't lead to a big revolution but it’s a good reminder.

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SXO: are user experience and SEO inseparable?

User experience, more important than ever for Google

User experience is at the heart of Google since its creation. With the democratisation of mobile the R&D on UX has been particularly intensive. Today, the user experience is a major criterion in natural referencing. UX SEO is now one of the inescapable levers in terms of SEO, especially on mobile. Speed, fluidity of navigation Google and other search engines Google and other search engines scrutinise each site with the sole aim of offering their users a successful experience. This is why they are now offering the AMP.

This is a very large issue, which can quickly turn out to be time consuming and costly in development. Today we're going to give you some keys to simply succeed in UX SEO, and to get ahead of the competition.  

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Google, from search engine to response engine

Google has undergone profound changes in recent years; because of changes in users' habits, changes in mentalities, arrival of new and ever more efficient gadgets... So much so that Google - the search engine - had no other choice but to transform itself into a response engine. The reason is quite easy to understand. Internet users have become accustomed to accessing information very quickly. Finding (and no longer searching for) the answer to a question shouldn't take more than one or two clicks! That’s why Google has evolved a lot, and now understands user intent and keyword context much better than 5 years ago (see Google Bert).

Simple solutions to optimize a website’s UX

How to optimize a website’s loading time?

Improving a page's performance is not always easy. This can range from the deactivation of a few superfluous modules on a CMS to the redesign of an entire website (bad infrastructure, poorly optimized database, etc.). But there are concrete, and rather universal solutions to save a few precious milliseconds.

Minimize HTTP requests

A request is a round trip from the browser to retrieve a page’s element. Of course, it takes time. Therefore, it’s necessary to ensure that the number of these requests is reduced as much as possible. This is quite a technical manipulation that should be left to a developer. ThePageSpeed Insights tool can help you spot these unnecessary queries.

Using CDNs 

It’s more than likely that a large number of users are not near the web server. The CDN (Content Delivery Network) then acts as a “relay antenna”. It reduces this distance by distributing the content to servers located all over the place. The called server is selected based on its proximity to the user.

Enable browser caching

The cache is like a temporary backup of a website’s content. Caching in a browser allows downloading a website’s resources to the hard drive once in a cache or temporary storage. These files are then locally stored on the system, which increases the subsequent pages’ loading speed . In principle, static content is kept in the cache for about a week, while widgets and other advertisements are only kept for one day.

Compress images

The most frequently encountered issue is image's weight On average, they occupy 60% of the page weight, and generate a large number of requests. The first solution is to remove any icon or font libraries that you don’t use. You can also replace some images with CSS replicas (like colored backgrounds for example). Once this part has been cleaned up, you can directly tackle the images and particularly the large formats. Compress them using a tool like Compressor.io or Image Optimizer, and try not to exceed a weight of 150KB and a width of 1920px.

The website’s responsive aspect 

Responsive design has been an SEO criterion for several years now, but its importance has increased tenfold with the launch of the Mobile First Index. Unless you’ve got a website’s mobile version, it’s imperative to have a responsive website in order to improve UX SEO but also conversion rates. In short, responsive design should give a website the power to adapt properly on a mobile screen. All elements on a page must be easily clickable, texts large enough to be read, the menu easily accessible, etc. Responsive design requires "sacrificing" certain elements of the page which would interfere with good UX. This is often the case with sliders and other merchandising elements. A website’s responsive version is generally intended to be cleaner and clearer so as not to interfere with UX, and to maintain correct loading times. If you work on a CMS (Prestashop, WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Magento, etc.), you will easily find responsive design themes. But beware, not all are equal. Don’t hesitate to have them tested by several people in pre-production, and above all check that they don’t impact the website’s performance.

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While tastes and colors vary from one person to another, when it comes to navigation, people generally agree that a website which is difficult to navigate is automatically blacklisted. And for good reasons: as we said earlier, nowadays the Internet user wants to find an answer right away. It’s therefore up to us, the website editors, to build all the paths, bridges and gateways necessary to give him/her quick access to what he/she is looking for. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions here. It depends on the website’s nature. However, there are some crucial elements to be taken into consideration. 

The search bar

The search bar is one of those things to study first. It must be very visible on all the pages of the website but above all, it must be relevant. To do so, a lot of background work is required to set up the synonyms, a word’s different versions (especially with possible spelling errors) etc. Current CMSs natively offer fairly efficient bars thanks to autocompletion, but they can always be improved.

The menu

The menu is also a website’s vital part. It should be intuitive and airy. Also, since all users think differently, you can consider multiple entry points for a single page (as long as you use URL rewriting to avoid generating duplicate content).

In any case and at all levels, the best way to assess the menu and pages’ fluidity is to have them tested by outside people: your friends, your family but also your own customers. For example, you can send a survey to your most loyal customers to collect their feedback (with a small discount to encourage them to respond).

Conclusion 

UX SEO is a huge topic that asks a lot of questions for which there are no ready-made answers. Improving a website’s UX requires a deep reflection upstream to know above all the users’ profile, their expectations and their needs in order to offer them the best experience possible.

   Article written by Louis Chevant

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