Thought Leadership Monday Mashup: Balancing User Experience and SEO

Most modern marketers might feel a bit unsettled in creating a webpage based solely on user experience, placing SEO second to value, usability, adoptability, desirability, and all the other important elements of user experience. How could we just brush off the mechanics of ranking high on a search engine when there are keywords scattered everywhere?

The good news is, now more than ever, Google and the engineers behind the algorithm want nothing more than high-quality content developed with the user in mind.

Let’s format, strategize, and conquer both at the same time. Let’s create a better experience all around. Here are a few thought leaders who have chimed in about the balance between user experience and SEO — even Google.

An aesthetically satisfying site is useful for your business and guests as long as you don’t overdo it. Keep in mind the old saying “keep it simple, stupid” – you can definitely tone it down and still have a beautiful site. (Problogger)

Google has for years been completely transparent in the way they use their algorithm updates, such as Panda, to maintain the highest level of quality content available on the internet. Their commitment to providing only the highest levels of content in the top rankings of search can be explained best by the 23 questions they released as a basis of ‘thinking like Google'.

    1. Would you trust the information presented in this article?
    2. Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
    3. Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
    4. Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
    5. Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
    6. Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
    7. Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
    8. Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
    9. How much quality control is done on content?
    10. Does the article describe both sides of a story?
    11. Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
    12. Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
    13. Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
    14. For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
    15. Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
    16. Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
    17. Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
    18. Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
    19. Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
    20. Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
    21. Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
    22. Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?
    23. Would users complain when they see pages from this site?

Google Webmaster Central Blog

As you read on in this piece “More guidance on building high-quality sites,” Google stresses the importance of quality over rules, frameworks, or the SEO hacks that some ‘affordable SEO services’ hide behind.

We encourage you to keep questions like the ones above in mind as you focus on developing high-quality content rather than trying to optimize for any particular Google algorithm. (Google Webmaster Central Blog)

Anca Bradley, an contributor, expounds on the industry’s  past disregard for the requests of the user and Google over the years. She also reflects on the effort it takes to have both a search engine optimized site and still put the user experience first.

In particular, Google’s sophistication is such that designing for UX (user experience) is much more valuable than designing just for SEO (search engine optimization).

That said, totally abandoning SEO in favor of a UX-focused approach is misguided. While it is true that SEO and UX have become more and more complementary—and that designing for UX does often result in improved SEO—there are some UX elements that affect Google’s ability to crawl a website, and some areas in which they benefit each other. (

It may seem like there is no right answer for the balance between a website with an unforgettable user experience and a website with exceptional search engine optimization. There is, it just takes a little research and strategy. If you are looking for a way to improve your SEO and user experience, the articles below may help. Reach out to us at, subscribe to our blog, and send us a shoutout on Twitter.

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