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Event Recap: How to Combine UX and SEO to Maximize the ROI of a Website

This is an overview of How to Combine UX and SEO to Maximize the ROI of a Website, a talk I co-presented with Pam Aungst, of Pam Ann Marketing at a Spark Design Professionals event in April 2018.

Measuring and optimizing a website is an ongoing, cyclical process that involves getting the right people to your website and providing a positive experience once they’re there.

When you redesign a website, the outcome is not the website. It’s a response to a pre-defined business goal. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and digital marketing efforts that drive people to the website as well as an optimized user experience tie into these business goals. In fact, in order to maximize the ROI of a website, both and UX and SEO/digital marketing need to be incorporated into the project as well as measured and optimized on an ongoing basis. We’re going to focus on SEO, specifically, because that was the topic of our most recent event.

The UX and SEO processes have remarkably similar processes, with each step of the process complementing and informing one another. In fact, in this symbiotic relationship, the sharing of information between UX and SEO teams is critical: SEO captures data and insights from a larger population “in the wild,” while the UX team has a nuanced view of user behaviors, preconceptions, and goals.

The perfect relationship doesn’t end there. The UX and SEO processes both thrive on continuous measurement and optimization. With the help of analytics dashboards, companies are able to track conversions and demonstrate ROI.

Below is an outline of the combined processes:

  1. Get stakeholder input and define business goals, what KPIs signify progress towards those goals, and how you’ll measure those over time. Ideally, UX and SEO metrics were being measured prior to a redesign, which will inform the decisions you make to move forward. UX metrics can and should be measured during the redesign process. Both UX and SEO goals and events should be set up in analytics prior to launch. Most importantly, plan to measure and optimize the website’s performance on a regular basis.
  2. UX, keyword, and competitive research. The UX process incorporates qualitative and qualitative user research, which will inform personas, scenarios, and user journeys. The SEO process includes keyword research—how users utilize search to find a solution to their problems. The processes inform one another, so information needs to be shared. The UX team may find users need different information than was originally hypothesized to make a final decision, which the SEO team can then incorporate into their keyword research. Both teams will ensure business goals align with user goals—key to the success of the website.
  3. Development of information architecture and content plan. UX and SEO teams should be working together to define a site structure that makes sense to both humans and computers. Triangulation of data from UX and SEO research will inform IA, menu, target keywords, content marketing, and calls-to action. You may also consider additional IA-specific tools such as card sorting or tree testing. Usability testing will confirm what content users find useful and whether users can find and understand the content (including navigation and calls-to-action).
  4. Pre-launch testing and SEO audit. Conduct usability studies to measure pre-defined metrics using the redesigned wireframes, visual designs, and/or prototypes. Include both desktop and mobile designs, as mobile designs still tend to have a myriad of usability issues. Concurrently, the SEO team should be conducting an SEO audit to ensure everything is working correctly prior to launch. All UX and SEO metrics should be set up in the analytics tool and in one easy-to-read dashboard.
  5. Post-launch measuring and optimizing and demonstrating ROI. This is where we find many clients drop the ball. What gets measured gets optimized, so it’s critical that a plan be in place prior to launch to measure and optimize on a regular basis (for example, monthly or quarterly). In addition to regular reporting, UX and SEO teams should work together to identify metrics that aren’t progressing. The UX team should track and categorize any feedback received about the website (in the form of email, social media, or customer service complaints). Together, the UX and SEO teams will form a hypothesis that may lead to simple changes or additional user research. Once changes have been implemented, the teams will continue to track and optimize, moving the needle on KPIs that will help the business achieve its business goals.


The Art of Balancing UX and SEO

Aligned UX and SEO processes are a win-win for everyone. The triangulation of data means the teams make more informed decisions about aligning business goals with user goals. The emphasis on measurement and optimization ensure a ROI on the website.