Google’s Great UX Experiment – How SEO Updates are Shaping the Future of B2B Companies
Remember how B2B sales used to be? A lot of cold calling, and a lot of parroting of scripted dialogues. Here’s a trip down memory lane, just for you.
Gone are those days when B2B enterprise sales were all about pounding the pavement and making those pesky sales calls – nowadays, a lot of B2B buying action happens online. One misstep in your SEO strategy can send your company plummeting down the search rankings. And in an enterprise realm where snagging savvy leads is no easy feat, a dip in rankings can spell disaster for your bottom line.
As Boromir would say:
Google’s latest algorithm, puts user experience front and center. In 2023, it aims to shift toward providing an experience where people feel they’re participating in the content rather than just passively viewing it. From interactive experiences to trustworthy interactions, the search giant has a lot of things in store for us this time around.
UX + SEO: How It Impacts The B2B Bottomline
In today’s digital landscape, creating top-notch (SEO-optimized) content is not enough to climb to the top rankings. Search engines are more focused on providing users with an exceptional user experience, and that too across multiple channels. And let’s be real, it’s not just about looking good online, it directly impacts your success through increased conversions. Studies state that B2B brands receive about 2.4% conversion from email marketing, 2.3% from webinars, and 1.3% from video marketing among other channels.
So, what do we make of this?
In 2023, a seamless user experience equals more conversions, plain and simple.
What Has Google Got in its UX Makeover For Enterprise Businesses
UX is such as big deal in SEO for two primary reasons:
- Google wants to improve the user experience by getting rid of shady SEO practices, as it’s become too easy to manipulate search rankings.
- B2B stakeholders have their own ways of researching. It’s crucial to present information in a clear, positive way so it stands out among the clutter.
But there’s more to it.
Your Enterprise Website Can’t Be An Afterthought
B2B buyers research thoroughly and dig through several pages of content. Without a top-notch user experience, you’re just slowing down their research process. Imagine coming across multiple broken links, misleading redirects, etc., while looking for an actual business to partner with!
Sounds annoying, right?
Well turns out it is pretty common. Even major players in the industry aren’t immune to this issue.
Look at this IBM case study page for instance. Two out of three case study links will redirect you to the wrong page! It prevents users from reaching helpful information.
The page experience update addresses how users feel when they interact with a web page, whether they’re on a mobile device or desktop.
To measure this, Google uses something called Core Web Vitals, which are a set of metrics that measures how well the page performs, how easy it is to use, and how stable it looks.
In Google’s own words, here’s a technical overview of the update:
The page experience update will consider several page experience signals, including the three Core Web Vitals metrics: LCP, FID, and CLS.
It also considers other factors like whether the page is mobile-friendly, uses a secure connection (HTTPS) and doesn’t have any annoying pop-ups (intrusive interstitial guidelines). As a result of this update, 13% of B2B URLs received a boost after the update.
What is a Good Experience?
Take an example of this B2B website, Toast, for instance.
Toast is a point-of-sale platform for restaurants. The website grabs your attention as soon as you land on it, with a simple video showing how Toast works.
The best part?
The video is silent until you click the How Toast Works button. This is a thoughtful touch that enhances the user experience by avoiding the potential annoyance of loud audio when first visiting the website. The website also offers customizable solutions that are tailored to the needs of businesses. The combination of these elements makes for a well-designed and user-friendly website that effectively communicates its message and services.
As a result, Toast is rewarded with an authority score of 74 and has around 880K monthly organic visits.
Get More Organic Traffic To Your Site by Mastering On-Page SEO
Google has added an extra E (short for Experience) to their E-A-T (Expertise – Authoritativeness – Trustworthiness) concept. Google’s guidelines say that to evaluate content quality, you need to look at how much experience the person writing it has on the topic they’re writing about, it’s called E-E-A-T.
Here’s what Google’s updated search quality rater guidelines say about the experience.
“Consider the extent to which the content creator has the necessary first-hand or life experience for the topic. Many types of pages are trustworthy and achieve their purpose well when created by people with a wealth of personal experience. For example, which would you trust: a product review from someone who has personally used the product or a “review” by someone who has not?”
Google also places renewed emphasis on trust.
It emphasizes that trustworthiness is key when it comes to E-E-A-T because even if a page seems to be made by an experienced, expert, or authoritative source, it won’t have a high E-E-A-T rating if it can’t be trusted.
Page Quality Rating
Google understands that ads are necessary for many sites to monetize. But the “ways in which ads contribute to the user experience” is taken into account when evaluating the quality of a page.
This means that a website may still be considered high quality even if it has ads, as long as those ads are presented in a way that does not negatively impact the user’s experience, such as dark UX patterns, intrusive pop-ups, etc.
Make Your Visitors Stick Around with a People-Focused Approach
Sometimes search engine optimizers (especially when it comes to B2B enterprise) become so focused on the technicalities of Search Engine Optimization that they lose sight of the bigger picture.
The true goal is not to outsmart search algorithms and rank higher, but to serve as a valuable resource for real-living-breathing humans. And that all comes down to creating an enjoyable and engaging experience for users.
It’s a basic principle: If a visitor is unable to navigate or understand your website, they’ll leave without taking any action, whether it be making a purchase, completing a form, or reading an article.
Google understood this and decided to put its helpful content algorithm to work so that your website visitors can easily find their way and take the actions that you want them to.
Helpful Content Algorithm
Under this update, content that makes visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience will get rewarded as compared to one that doesn’t meet user expectations.
The main mantra of this algorithm is:
Create content for people, not for search engines.
It Checks if Content is By People
Danny Sullivan of Google wrote:
“…we’re rolling out a series of improvements to Search to make it easier for people to find helpful content made by, and for, people.
…We look forward to building on this work to make it even easier to find original content by and for real people in the months ahead.”
To make your website more people-centric, Google asks SEOs to meet the following requirements:
- Have an intended audience find the content useful.
- Content demonstrates first-hand expertise, depth, and good user experience.
- Your site has a primary focus.
- After reading your content, users are leaving with the feeling that they’ve learned about a topic that’ll help them achieve their goals. And they should be able to do so seamlessly (no intrusive pop-ups, or hidden dark patterns)
If you meet these requirements, you’ll automatically create experiences that connect with human beings and not just search engines. Mind you, the people-first approach does not invalidate SEO best practices included in Google’s SEO guide. UX and SEO are NOT mutually exclusive — they’re rather complementary to each other.
UX Optimization: Shift Your SEO Strategies
Annoying and scripted sales calls might have worked for Phoebe and the empire office supplies. But similar tactics won’t cut in 2023. Your enterprise brand is doomed if you don’t prioritize user experience. The future belongs to businesses that put their users first.