Catalyst Video Blog: Breaking Down SEO, Episode 1 – Site Experience

Check our new video blog series as we break down everything you need to know about SEO.

Catalyst’s Organic Search Director, William Álvarez and Catalyst’s Associate Director of Organic Search, Eric Mandell, bring you tips, tricks and insights for all things SEO. On the premiere episode, William and Eric tackle the topic of experiences – page experience, user experience, and customer experience. They dissect the differences, explore the importance of each, and share ways to make sure your site experience is top-notch for search engines and consumers alike.

William: Hello everybody, welcome to our very first video blog from Catalyst. My name is William Alvarez, I’m in the director of SEO with the team in New York. I’ve been with the company for almost seven years, and I’m very passionate about YouTube optimization and local SEO. But, in general terms, everything about the discipline. Today, we are gonna talk about some interesting definitions and for that, I have invited my co-host, Eric Mandell, was gonna introduce himself right now, are… Tell us about your story, how long you’ve been in the SEO industry, and what we are going to do with this today?

Eric – 00:59: Sure. So my name is Eric Mandell, I’m from Catalyst out of Boston, so I’m in the Boston office. I’ve been doing SEO for quite a while. Initially, I think I started in 1990 is around… Just after Google started around then, I really have a technical background, I started in web hosting and server administration, which once I started working in e-commerce, working with e-commerce websites is when people started asking me, well, I built the website. Now, how do I get people there? So that’s really how I got into SEO and fast really fast from the inception of Google and people realizing once I became a household name, SEO happened very fast.

William – 01:53: So for today, I thought that it was interesting to talk about experiences, but there seems to be some level of confusion about when people talk about page experience, when people talk about user experience, some people talk about customer experience. What is that? Is it the same? Are they different? How do they impact SEO? What can we say about it, Eric, how do we help marketers or our SEO friends in the industry drive the conversation so we can get the best out of it, because there are some benefit from all those definitions.

Eric – 02:42: So I think obviously the first thing that has to happen is people have to understand the differences between them is… I think that’s a good starting point. The user experience, what do you think, when you think of user experience versus customer experience versus page experience, when you’re thinking of user experience, what is it that comes to mind for you?

William – 03:06: So I think that the online world is trying to make some kind of representation of the experiences that we learn from the offline world, and it’s been like a challenge to try to translate that into web pages. So when I typically go to a store, I walk in because I feel attracted to the window decoration, to the brand, to how organized and clean the elements are laid out in the windows, and on the shelves… If I walk in, I want it to smell good. I want to be welcomed by people who are helping me find the products that I want, or otherwise the experience has to be so simple that I don’t have to talk to anybody, but just go straight and find the items that I wanna buy, I wanna try them on, I wanna compare I wanna see pricing information clear and in front of me, and ultimately, if I make a decision, I wanna go to the check out, and walk out very fast, I don’t want to spend like long hours there. All of the experience varies from one customer to the following. So that is the theme that website owners are struggling to do, and that is the type of user experience that I’m trying to describe, so how…

William – 04:52: All the elements that we just… That I just listed, including Customer Service, the design, layout of the store, how the physical location is looking… Is it in a good neighborhood, is not… Or maybe that’s what it is, it has to be in a specific geographic area. What kind of experience am I getting off that… So for me user experience is the combination of all of them. And in the case of search Google has always said repeatedly we want to have pages that offer a good user experience, but they never went into explaining what that really means for website owners, especially… And when people started saying I have a nice design layout, but it’s low, I have a nice page where it’s not mobile compatible. The technology that is being used is not optimizing the way that Google can understand the content, they never reply when you reach out to customer service or the experience is always different. So user experience for me is all those elements that try to satisfy a need of a user that came from that channel from Google. Then there’s the customer experience is how good the products are or the services, what’s unique about the store, that makes it really special…

William – 06:46: What level of personalization the store offers to satisfy that need that I had, how much they’re understanding the data that I’m sharing with them so they can improve my experience, the feedback that I give to a store manager or on a survey online, are they keeping that mind to build a better experience. So that is the customer experience. And then for me, it is not the last thing, it’s like all plays together at the same time, is the concept of the page experience at Google is in indicating that it’s gonna be a ranking factor in 2021, but I think it was always there in some fashion that has to with, are your pages loading fast enough to present the content in a timely fashion so users can satisfy their needs when they want them, is it mobile compatible… All those things. So that’s for me. What do you think about the definition?

Eric – 08:00: Yeah, I agree with everything you said. I think the user experience really has to do is the conglomerate of all of the customer experiences all together, how do you feel after you’ve done each experience, and your store scenario, you mentioned you walk in the door, or actually you see the store first… This is one customer experience, when you walk in the door, how is the store laid out, is it clean… Does the store smell nice, all of this, this is another completely separate experience, maybe if it’s a shoe store, you’re trying shoes on, how is that process? It is easy to get this use is a different customer experience, all of the customer experiences together when you leave that store, provide you… That is your user experience, that’s your overall user experience. And I want a note to one bad customer experience friction in one area can really devastate the whole user experience, and that’s one of the things that I think is really important for users to know, for website owners to know is you can have a beautiful looking site like you said, you can have the best e-commerce system, you can have great pictures of the products and videos, but if for instance, the page loads are slow, you might have the greatest system in the world, except the page is load slow, Google uses like you were saying they use all of these different, what they’re calling web vitals to decide how well.

Eric – 09:49: Each page is performing. If you get to the check out, everything was amazing Up until that point, you hit checkout and you just see the ball going around and it never actually checks you out, or you’re not sure if it did, That creates a terrible user experience, even though every single… Even if all of your page… even if Every page experience, although even if they were fast, even if everything worked well except for that… So I think it brings it all together, I think the user experience is how you feel, it’s almost how you feel after you left the site, then you can judge your experience… Probably reviews that you get… Reviews that you get are based mainly on the experience, the user experience, where they might… go into detail maybe about each customer experience, they’ll say, You know what, the store looks great, it smells great, I went to the check out upfront and the girl didn’t now how to use it or register, so I read the experience. So instead of giving you four or five stars, I’m gonna give you one or two stars, that type of thing. So that’s how I see it.

Eric – 10:59: That’s how I use experience, first customer experience, and then like you said, Page experience, which is starting to be more of a factor coming in the oncoming year or in 2021 according to Google. So that’s how I see it.

William – 11:19: I see it the same way. Now, you just mentioned something really important, that core web vitals. As a marketer, you don’t have to know that as an SEO, I have to know, I have to deal with that every day. We have the way to create the score cards of how each one of the elements that impact page experience ranks for your website. So if as an SEO, I come to the CMO and explain that the scores are low or poor for the pages, I can kind of estimate what an increase in the scoring is going to cost in terms of revenue. As a marketer, you should be listening to that… Yeah, I think every time you see something that is like orange or red in a scorecard coming from SEO, you should worry about that. because it takes time, between the time that you inform it, the time that you make it an actionable item and put it in your queue, and that goes through all the rounds of approval to get it implemented. At the enterprise level, It sometimes takes a while, first for SEOs to communicate that and make the definition clear to get back in, and if you delay the process by which you receive that message and you approve it, you’re losing clients, you’re listening, customers, you’re losing sales, it’s like we get hit very frequently or in some situations, where CMOS come and say, How can we improve our revenue from the organic search channel? I don’t see that happening yet, but also you’re not proving what you have to prove when it was informed, and that’s a really key aspect of it, as for what is more important.

William – 13:35: Well, user experience as a whole is always important, so in terms of prioritization, when your designers, tell you that you need to do some improvements, look into how that can be accommodated when your SEOs talk to you and say, Hey, this is important. It’s critical. Take this very seriously. I’m making it work together. I also see a problem when companies say, We have to prioritize design first because our logo is horrible from 20 years ago… Yeah, that’s important, but SEO is equally important, and the conversion rate is equally important, all the limits are important and work together and they work in concert.

Eric – 14:30: Yeah, I think one important thing that people miss out on is, I think the term SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization, is a little bit misleading ’cause it’s not really… It used to be what we did, an SEO is now responsible for the performance of the website performance as a whole. They’re responsible for the bottom line. So I like to refer to it as website optimization or whatever, there’s so many hats that we wear… But the one thing that really that people need to understand is, when we optimize a site, when we make recommendations, whether it’s technical recommendations, whether it’s experience recommendations, when implemented, they’re gonna help with every single channel, if we do conversion rate optimization, we’re gonna see increases in paid, in direct, we’re gonna see increases, bottomline increases in search engines from search engines, we’re gonna see it from email, everything, everybody that uses the site to convert will be affected positively if the state is optimized appropriately. So that’s something I just I really like to point out because I know there’s a lot of conversations about about an SEO, about what SEO is and what it covers, and a lot of people see it in different ways, and there’s niches, some people work…

Eric – 16:06: Just do technical stuff, some people just do content and that type of thing, but really as a director, which we both are director of SEO, we need to be responsible for all of that, and generally, that’s what we focus on, it’s the entire user experience, which is responsible for the bottom line, the revenue, the conversions, whatever it is, a website, whatever the goal of the website is, and whatever you as a marketing manager, whatever your goals are, is the SEO’S job to support it with whatever is on the website. However we do it, we have… I was gonna say, where do you think we’re in the experience, do you think content fits ’cause we spoke how things work, how things look, but what about the actual content itself?

William – 17:12: With the customer experience, what I’m putting in front of the users to guide them through the process in a very typical bad scenario of page optimization is when you go on the e-commerce, and you land on the pro category page, 200 images of the products in different colors without any type of organization, and there is no… Always like a shopping guide or shipping guide, or the size charts, or what are people saying about the same products, but the are how they feel after they purchase a product. In some modern ecommerce websites, I see that there is user generated content, there is embed of the Instagram stories on the post with people saying, This is amazing, the reviews and stuff like that. So high quality content has to do with what can we say about the product in terms of features, what can I say about how is working for others who already purchased the same item and what other level of research, Innovation, I can talk about that product, it also has to do with tools that help me refine my purchases, or let’s say you’re gonna buy a music instrument and then you wanna know how to fine tune the instrument, I enable a tool that help me simulate the process online in a virtual reality or what the content has to do with implementation of the technology is like, I’m not gonna be able to go the the store anymore, I’m gonna order online, but I wanna see how this awesome violin looks under my desk, I can bring it on 3D and augmented reality experience, that is an enhancement from my experience with the store, and that is high quality content as well, so on top of whatever you wanna do on the website ever, you have a content hub where people can go and find information that they need, but if you can weave that content into the product pages, on the category pages, you’re gonna improve the experience of the user as well…

William – 19:59: Yep, that’s where high quality content comes into place.

Eric – 20:05: Yeah, I would say, if I were to summarize this, I would say make the customer experience as frictionless as possible, make it as seamless as possible, just make the overall experience easy and nice for your user… It’s not a new thing, but I’ll say it. I’ve said it before, everybody says it, keep the user in mind. When you’re thinking about your website, make sure you focus on the user… That’s what I would say.

William – 20:44: Yeah, you know what’s fun, FAQS, we’re always talking about FAQs when you make them available on the page, there are an awesome sales experience. Marketers sometimes don’t understand why FAQs are important. all the benefits that has to do for organic search on this day comes to representations of queries or questions that people are asking directly on the search pages, etc., so that is in our example… I just remember it. So anything else you wanna say before we wrap up?

Eric – 21:29: Just focus on the user? Yeah. William – 21:32: The customer always is Right, right? That’s what they say. So thank you Eric, I think this was a really great and insightful conversation that we had today, we’re gonna continue doing this on a regular basis so stay tuned. Thanks for watching. Until the next time.


Drop us a line! Contact us at for all your SEO related questions.

Want to stay up-to-date with the latest news, insights, & more from Catalyst?
Join our newsletter today!