Everyone wants their website and content to be prominent, rank well and stand out on Google.
Most people know a bit about SEO, there are the usual boxes to check optimising your headings, using keywords, ensuring landing pages align with people’s expectations etc.
All of these are important and will have a strong impact on where Google ranks your site. One aspect that people often forget about, that has a significant impact on your SEO, is UX. The user experience (UX) of your website can drastically influence your search rankings and it’s not something that should be overlooked.
Search engines often update and alter their algorithms to add new signals for determining search ranking. In 2021 Google Core announced an update where “Page Experience” signals are included in SEO rankings. According to Google, “Page experience is a set of signals that measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page beyond its pure information value.” Therefore, the user’s experience on your website is increasingly important to SEO results.
Having a considered approach to UX design will create an enjoyable experience for your customers AND increase your engagement metrics for Search Engine Optimisation. It really is a win-win.
Before we look at how SEO and UX are connected, let’s confirm what UX actually is.
Put simply, UX is the experience someone has when using your site. Having a focus on UX means curating a website that is easy to follow and use. At a basic level, it is about putting your users first when creating designs and content.
Simple steps like creating clear menus and thought-out customer-journeys throughout your site are a good start. But all sites and all users are different, creating a website that works seamlessly for your customers requires you (or your website designer) to understand as much about your people (and how they interact with your site) as possible.
Let’s take a look at a number of factors that are going to affect your UX and ultimately your SEO.
Search engines are constantly changing the criteria and algorithms used to work out SEO ranking on sites. But one key factor remains, having the best information and content on your site will boost your rankings. When I say “best” I mean accurate, engaging and fresh. Copy should relate directly to the page title, it should be interesting to read, it should answer questions and relate directly to what people are searching for.
We are living in the age of TikTok and Reels – people’s brains are literally being rewired, they want information quickly and they have short attention spans. If a user doesn’t like what they’re reading, or it feels irrelevant, they’ll move on – quickly – which is not good for SEO.
Creating an engaging page also makes it more likely backlinks will be created to your site, once again increasing the SEO ranking.
A lot of factors make up the experience a user has when interacting with your site. At a very basic level, text needs to be easy to read and the layout of pages should be visually attractive and clean.
Load time has always been important to users, we have all seen the stats on how quickly people abandon slow pages and how it effects the likelihood of them returning. The speed at which your pages load now directly influences the page experience signals and in turn the SEO rankings. Visual stability during the page load is taken into account, as well.
Navigation Bars and Menus
At a minimum, you should have clear, informative and easy-to-follow navigation. Streamlining your menus and keeping them uncluttered ensures that they are an accurate map of your entire website. By using only one navigation bar at the top of pages you will be ensuring that viewers can navigate and find information easily within your site.
Mobile friendliness has a significant impact on search results. Desktop vs mobile is a constantly changing statistic. As of Feb 2023 52% of total web visits are accessed via mobile. As neither platform are an obvious “preferred” choice, it is essential that your web page performs well on both.
If your site doesn’t perform well on mobile, you are not creating a good user experience, customers will leave your site and your SEO will be affected. If you’re not sure how your site performs, you can make use of this Mobile Friendly Test app.
Content on your pages is required to be easily accessible to viewers. An “interstitial” is an advertisement that appears while a chosen website or page is loading. Pop-ups or ads you may have created are (usually) added for a reason, but they can be considered intrusive. Helping your users to find information they may be looking for quickly and easily is what will assist with SEO ranking and form part of a good User Experience.
It is highly recommended that, even if your site is not showing a security issue, you register your site with Google Search Console. You definitely don’t want any malware, harmful downloads or deceptive pages associated with your site, as they all present security issues for viewers and will affect your ranking. For this reason, regular checks should be carried out on your site to ensure that it hasn’t been hijacked and is vulnerable.
Search engines are constantly receiving signals as to how much time a user spends on a site or page within a website. If users dwell longer on your site than competitors, this will be an indication that your content is useful and relevant to a search query and your ranking will increase accordingly. If viewers leave your site very quickly, it will have an adverse effect on rankings. If a person on your site is having a bad experience or they aren’t finding what they need easily, they’ll hit that ‘back’ button.
Your site’s connection needs to be secure and safe to visit for viewers. Once your site is registered as a HTTPS secure site, it is depicted by the symbol of a lock to the left of your web address. This symbol signifies that information which is shared with a viewer is secure and private.
The Little Things
Sometimes it is the little things that make up a feeling you get when using a website. Collapsing the search bar to a search icon is another way of creating a better user experience. Tuck it under a magnifying glass icon and this will clear the clutter and save screen space. Most users know that the magnifying glass icon represents a search function and shouldn’t cause any confusion.
Every touchpoint of your brand should be a considered experience for your user. All interactions are connected and make up a part of your brand and customer experience. When looking at SEO, it’s important that the user experience is considered. It will affect and improve your rankings when engagement metrics are increased due to the better usability of the site.
Communications Manager // kwpx