Search experience optimization (SXO) is a popular topic that has emerged as a necessary consequence of our surfing habits. It merges two disciplines that we don’t necessarily associate, user experience (UX) and search engine optimization (SEO). Although SEO is as old as the first website, search engines are constantly evolving, and SXO is the next step in that evolution. However, people may still have a hard time figuring out what SXO is really about. Let’s discover more about this practice.

What is SXO? 

Search experience optimization, as the name suggests, optimizes the search experience by making it easy for a search engine to understand the content of a web page so that it will be well and appropriately ranked. Unlike this “classic” definition of SEO, the priority now is no longer the search engine but the user. This is where UX comes in. All users want is to find quick and relevant answers to their queries. And all businesses want is to create a conversion. SXO is where these two goals coincide.

Reminder: what are SEO and UX? 

So, what does SEO have to do with the user experience? As a reminder, search engine optimization includes all the practices that aim to improve a website’s ranking  on search engines. It gives visibility to a website and its activity. 

UX refers to the user experience and the goal to make the user’s journey across an interface as pleasant and efficient as possible. This way, it’s easier to build customer loyalty and users are more likely to make a purchase, subscribe, share, etc.—with help from the famous Call to Action button.  UX is often associated with design

How to combine SEO and UX?

By combining these two disciplines, the basic principles of SEO are used to improve the user’s experience, making navigation across the website as intuitive as possible and leading to the desired conversion. That way, your site is both well ranked and effective. So, how do we do it?

It all starts with keyword optimization. Standard SEO principles apply, so specific, relevant words are used in strategic places (such as the meta description), which facilitates the search. In terms of UX, however, keywords should also flow seamlessly with the rest of the content and not sound robotic when you read the content out loud. Furthermore, keywords must reflect the target audience, not just in relevance but in relatability, using language that is familiar to them and that corresponds to the intent behind their search.

Next, let’s think about the link building strategy, which aims to acquire more  backlinks. Links are one of the pillars of effective SEO. But their logic and quality also play a role in creating a good user experience. We have to think about their placement and appearance as well. If a link is strategically placed so that it’s visible and attractive, users are more likely to click on it. 

While there are many other ways to achieve efficient SXO, such as a website’s responsive aspect, as a general rule, websites should always be designed from the perspective of the user. Google is constantly refining its algorithms and tends to privilege user-oriented websites. “User-oriented websites” means quality content with quality SEO that is also mobile-friendly, easy to navigate, and fast (as explained in an article on the CAWEB master’s blog). 

Well-known sites, such as Rankwatch, agree with the importance of UX for effective SEO. However, the idea of SXO sometimes incites criticism.

Why is SXO debated?

Since its arrival, SXO has been criticized for several reasons, but one of the main debates is about the relationship between search engine optimization and search experience optimization: is SXO the new SEO or just a component of it? Opinions differ. Some people believe that search experience optimization is already a part of basic SEO principles and has been for a long time. In that case, SXO is nothing more than a specificity of SEO and not a revolutionary idea some claim it to be. 

Whether it’s SEO’s successor or just a colleague, search experience optimization is a very valuable practice for a business’ digital strategy. Satisfying users will encourage them to come back as well as share, thus generating more traffic and improving your website’s ranking.  So, whether you’ve already adopted it or not, search experience optimization should definitely be a priority! 

What do you think about SXO? Is it a new revolutionary idea or just SEO with a different name? Let us know in the comments! Looking for more information about SEO or the web in general? You can check out the other articles on our blog. Also, if you liked this article, don’t forget to share it! 

Disclaimer: Google, as well as many other search engines uses complex algorithms based on thousands of different criteria that can change at any moment. This guide cannot ensure that you find yourself at the top of page one on a Google search engine results page (SERP). However, it will provide you with some basics in natural SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), as well as give your site the best possible chance of succeeding in the long term for no extra cost than a few hours of your time.

Congratulations! You’ve just got your new website up and running. Now all you have to do is sit back and wait for it to get a page one ranking on google. Sounds easy right? Well, you might be surprised to know that in 2019, your site is in competition with no less than 1.8 BILLION other websites out there. This means that search engines are extremely selective about what kind of content they display on their search engine results pages (SERP). But fear not, this article will arm you with some of the most sure-fire ways to make your site as visible as possible without emptying your wallet in the process.

TCLoc Natural SEO Tips 2019

How does a Search engine work?

It’s important to understand the situation from the search engine’s point of view: For Google, as well as pretty much every other search engine, time is money. The less time it has to spend scanning through your site, the better it is for you. Once a website is launched and indexed, a search engine will send a small data-crunching robot (a crawler) in the form of an algorithm to your site. The algorithm will examine your site and compare with its own predefined criteria. If the robot finds that your site is well optimised (it contains good quality, relevant content and isn’t hiding any unpleasant surprises for users), it will rank your site on one of its search results pages, but not necessarily on page one. It is important to ensure that your site is well positioned on Google and/or other search engines. The higher your site is placed, the more visibility you will have – generally speaking, people won’t bother to check further than Google’s 3rd page to find what they’re looking for – lazy, but true.

How can I optimise my website without spending the earth?

The short answer is Natural SEO. Think of it like climbing a mountain: The first 80% of the climb is the easy (and cheapest) part, whereas the last 20% involves the hardest struggle and most investment to reach the summit and be #1. In this article, we will only be focusing on the first 80%. This is a free and relatively easy way to climb the ranks on a SERP. It is however time consuming and can be costly if not applied correctly. So, listen up!

SEO Mountain

How can I help Google to help me?

There are literally hundreds of ways to optimize your site for the web. Here are a number of hand-picked tips that will keep a crawler contented:

Make your site responsive and AMP fast

These two tips generally go hand in hand. Firstly, make sure that your website is responsive – that it can adapt to ALL kinds of screens: Desktops, tablets and smartphones. According to Statista.com, in 2018, over 52.2% of all internet traffic came through cell phones. Of course, Google knows this, and will penalise sites that are not responsive. Don’t get left behind! Another way to get into Google’s good books is to speed up page loading times. This can be done by compressing (minifying) your site’s Java Script code using software such as Java Script minifier.

When it comes to page speed, another piece of advice that is often overlooked is image compression. Google loves images as they help to harmonize the overall information on a web page, so try to intersperse texts with relevant images. The more detailed your image is, the ‘heavier’ the file will be to load.  Usually, an image around 20-30kb is fine, but don’t go over 250kb unless necessary. You just have to find the right balance!

TIP:
Try upgrading to AMP (accelerated mobile pages). In march 2018, Google announced plans to push for AMP to be standardised. Although its already in use, AMP has not yet been widely adopted by the web community, as it would demand further streamlining of websites and content. Not only will pages have to be mobile friendly, they will also have to be lightning quick. However, if you can make your pages AMP friendly, you’ll be one step ahead of the game!

Quality content

In Google’s eyes, nothing beats rich, informative, original content. A good website should contain texts, images and even videos – however, this MUST be your own information. If you plagiarise, Google WILL find you and it WILL penalise you! Making sure that the information is well structured keeps the user engaged for longer: The longer they stay, the more chance you have of converting your traffic into potential customers. In terms of content length, the general rule is thus: The longer a text is, the more favourable your page will be. For an E-commerce website, a text should contain at least 350 words, with no maximum number. For blog articles, however, Google prefers about 1800 – 2450 words – but there’s definitely no harm in making them longer. This is down to the fact that longer articles are generally considered to be better quality, have a larger number of key words and have a higher chance of being shared – although this isn’t always the case.

Keywords and structure

Put yourself in a user’s shoes. You are looking for information on Google, so you type your request into the search bar. In SEO terms, what you have just typed is called a keyword. In order for google to put your site in front of the right eyes (your target audience), it compares the user’s request with the keywords that appear on its sites. In order to rank higher, you should establish a list of keywords for each article/text. Be careful, as these keywords will help Google define how you will be found – make sure that you use the precise vocabulary that users will look for and find you with. Note that multi-word search terms are also types of keywords. Don’t be afraid to use a question, such as: ‘How can I get more traffic on my website?’, this is actually considered as one key word. To give more weight your keywords, make sure they appear within the framework of your page – in the main title of your article (the <h1>), as well as in the subtitles (the <h2> and <h3>).

TIP:
To help you judge whether a keyword is relevant or not, try using free online tools such as Ubersuggest .

WARNING:
Avoid stuffing your texts with keywords. Try to place 1 or so per paragraph approximately.

Links

Links are perhaps the most important elements for a website to make a name for its self.

There are 2 types of link:

  • Internal Links: Are used to navigate within the site (e.g. a menu). A good structured site makes it easier for Google’s robots to crawl quicker, and spend less time understanding which page leads to what. The less time it has to spend, the better it is for you. Using internal menus can really help, as well as creating an XML sitemap.
  • External Links: Are sacred in the world of SEO. An external link (backlink) will transfer authority to your site from an external source. Each time another site links to yours, it transfers a small percentage of its web authority to you. In this case, Google will not only asses the quality of your site, but also the quality of the site at the root of the link as well.

If Google finds the site trustworthy (measured in trust flow), good quality, already has a high ranking on a SERP, and is well maintained, it will automatically have more confidence in your site, and therefore attribute a better rank.

Thanks to external links, you can considerably improve your ranking on Google’s search pages. Be advised however, good quality free backlinks are difficult to find, but not impossible.

This article on MOZ helps shed some light on how to embark on the quest to finding them.

Keep your site updated

In order to keep your ranking on Google, it is crucial that the information on your site is of a high standard  and of course relevant. However, it’s also important to keep your information up-to-date. It’s basically like gardening (trimming, pruning, repotting etc…). Carrying out monthly or yearly updates of texts and articles are necessary. If you notice that a part of your site’s information is no longer valid, it’s wise to modify it (change texts to the past tense, change the dates etc…).  After an article has been modified, Google’s robots will automatically revisit the site to review the information again. It’s a proven method – regular site updates make information more reliable in Google’s eyes.

If you found this article interesting or useful, be sure to read more of our students fascinating insights into the World Wide Web here: https://mastertcloc.unistra.fr/blog/

Any of us looking to build a bigger and better online presence could learn a thing or two from Chris Raulf. A quick Google search of his name brings up a dozen pages of results on the man in question: personal and business webpages, authored articles, social media pages, speaking engagement announcements, video tutorials, etc.

Chris Raulf, SEO Expert

Indeed, SEO expert Chris Raulf wears many hats: consultant, trainer, author, keynote speaker and, as of January 2017, TCLoc instructor. I had the pleasure of speaking with Chris recently to gain some additional insight on his personal and professional journeys toward becoming one of the world’s foremost specialists in international search engine optimization.

Marketing Roots

Originally from Basel, Switzerland, Chris has been living in the United States, in Boulder, Colorado, for 20 years. He began his career in marketing, completing training at both the SAWI Swiss Marketing Institute and the Marketing and Business School of Zurich. He proceeded to build a career in international marketing, taking on positions as e-commerce and multimedia localization project manager for Lionbridge, sales support and business development manager for RWS, marketing manager for ENLASO, and director of marketing for Lingoport, among others. However, after 12 years of working in the language services industry, Chris decided to redirect his career path.

Applying an inherent talent and affinity for teaching, Chris launched a digital marketing and search engine optimization consulting and training company. Then in 2009, he founded Boulder SEO Marketing, an agency that has been recognized as a leader in the fields of digital marketing and SEO and which was recently named a top Denver SEO company by UpCity.

SEO & Marketing – A Match Made in Boulder

Chris’ company Boulder SEO Marketing, based in Boulder and in Denver, offers the full plate of digital marketing services in both Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media Marketing (SMM). The company specializes in SEO training and consulting, helping clients to develop sustainable and powerful strategies for increasing traffic on their web or social media pages. It also offers SEO site audits, LinkedIn training, international search engine optimization (ISEO), social media marketing, content marketing, and other related services.

Within the company, Chris is a leading consultant for international SEO, working with clients to help their digital marketing and SEO strategies reach new levels of effectiveness on an international level. He also leads half-day and full-day online SEO training sessions, scalable to each client’s needs.

Besides offering services to companies around the globe, the Boulder SEO Marketing founder also teaches workshops in the Denver and Boulder Colorado area, and has recently launched a self-paced online SEO training course, which is available to a global audience.

In recent years, Chris has also been taking on more and more speaking engagements. This October, he will deliver a lecture on international SEO titled “Localizing and translating Websites Just Doesn’t Cut It Anymore” at the Elia ND Forum in Bucharest, and in March he led a standing-room only international SEO workshop titled “Up-sell to New and Existing Customers,” for language industry professionals at the at Gala Conference in Amsterdam. “Finally I’m getting to where I’m teaching and speaking as a regular part of my job, and I love it,” says Chris.

“More of an Educator than a Salesperson”

Chris’ training packages and conference lectures about SEO are generally structured around five core pillars of SEO methodology:

5 Pillars of SEO
Image Source: Boulder SEO Marketing 

Special emphasis is placed on numbers 3 through 5, pertaining to content marketing, and the lifeblood of effective SEO strategies. Chris tells us: “We’ve worked with a large variety of businesses, from bras, to office supplies, to e-commerce – It’s the same methodology across industries.”

According to Chris, some companies can be reluctant to invest time and energy in SEO, mostly from a lack of proper understanding of the notion and its significant business-boosting capabilities. For instance, “some people think SEO is very technical, and it is getting more technical, but to an extent, you can get away with not being technical.”

Another preconception that can interfere with a company’s ability to improve their online visibility is that “SEO sometimes has a bad connotation, because people associate it with getting scammed. That’s why I educate, because they just don’t understand.” He continues, “I’m more of an educator than a salesperson. I just tell them everything I know. And then you don’t have to sell, once they get it, they’re sold.” Chris in fact has a largely open source teaching model, and shares a large portion of his templates, videos and other training materials online for free.

He and his team in Denver and Boulder work very closely with their clients. “I’m totally against just outsourcing SEO. Some people can get it and do it themselves. Others lack the resources and knowledge. At Boulder SEO Marketing, we offer a hybrid solution, where we assign action items to our participants. It’s more fun for everybody involved and we feel like a team.”

Multilingual websites and ISEO – A Stone Largely Unturned

A topic that Chris is particularly passionate about, and one that has taken on new important dimensions in recent years, is SEO for international multilingual websites. When dealing with International SEO (ISEO), Chris explains that the strategies are beginning to encroach on more technical domains: “You have to think about how you structure the website on the back-end, about what tags to use. More people need to be involved, notably linguists that need to be trained for the keyword transcreation process. And you really have to understand the local market on an intimate basis.”

Chris knows well that ISEO is an essential component of localization, another growing field in digital communication. Unfortunately, in his eyes and those of numerous other industry professionals, the field is in desperate need of a jump start. “At this point, I’m still shocked at how the localization industry is behind on SEO. If you don’t optimize your content for searches, it’s just a billboard for informational purposes. It’s so applicable to [language service providers], but not a lot of people get it. They could start to offer ISEO as a service, which would set them apart from other service providers and generate more business.”

Chris Raulf met TCLoc founder and director Renate De La Paix years ago at a GALA Global conference in New York after giving a master class about ISEO. On this occasion, he and De La Paix discussed the high-potential, yet sadly underexploited, link between localization and SEO, further turning the gears of a project that would eventually give birth to the TCLoc Master in Technical Communication and Localization at the University of Strasbourg.

“I wish more localization companies would get serious about international SEO,” says Chris. “It’s a stagnant industry. Translators are not always too tools-savvy. I think programs like TCLoc are an amazing opportunity for people. I hope that more people will take advantage of this online degree and never stop educating themselves with programs like TCLoc, which can be a huge differentiator for them in the industry.”

Do What You Love

In surprising contrast to his impressively industrious and multi-faceted career, Chris’ modes of work and communication are both straightforward and easy-going. He resorts to relaxed and open communication and education methods, with students and clients alike. Even his articles and learning materials on SEO (many of which are available online) are approachable, engaging, and effuse the sense of passion he so clearly harbors for his work.

When he is not working, Chris Raulf enjoys the great outdoors of Boulder, skiing in the foothills, rock climbing, hiking, doing yoga, and he plays on two soccer teams. “Unfortunately, soccer didn’t work out,” he chuckles, “I never became a professional”. Although I suppose his current profession is a close dream-career second.

To learn more about Chris Raulf or find out more about his training programs, here are some links:

Boulder SEO Marketing Website: www.boulderseomarketing.com

Online and In-person SEO Trainings: http://boulderseomarketing.com/seo-training/

Lean more about SEO: http://boulderseomarketing.com/resources/

Find Chris on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/chrisraulf/

Follow Chris on Twitter: https://twitter.com/swisschris/

Chris’ Personal Website: www.chrisraulf.com