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!