Google factors in an array of elements when ranking your website; from mobile-friendliness to content quality, page speed, navigation and more. UX factors play an increasingly more important role within SEO and ranking, encouraging an overlap in SEO and UX strategies.
The Importance of UX for SEO
Google’s algorithm constantly evolves and changes to ensure it’s providing users with the best possible results to their search query. As updates go on Google’s goal has become more and more user-orientated. This has seen a huge change in the SERPs. Chief among these include user-friendly features such as rich snippets and knowledge panels.
Introduced in 2015, RankBrain is considered the third most significant ranking factor. This algorithm really highlighted the overlap in UX and SEO. RankBrain uses metrics to decide how much the user is enjoying their experience on your site. Using a variety of behaviour metrics such as pages per session, organic CTR, bounce rate and dwell time the search engine can determine the level of UX your site provides.
With SEO moving away from only ranking for search terms it has led to UX and SEO sharing common goals. They both share a goal of providing users with the best answers to their search query. Working hand in hand, SEO brings the user to the answer. Once on the web page UX answers the query.
SEO Practices that affect UX
Many SEO practices we undertake directly affect and influence UX:
- Image tags are crucial for user experience, as they provide the user with details on the picture when it doesn’t load.
- Headings also play a part in UX as they not only improve readability but also help structure the page.
- Thin content affects a page’s rankability as it is seen that copy over 600 words provide the user with more in-depth answers.
- Page speed is a key ranking factor as a slow loading page can cause huge amounts of user frustration and overall bad user experience.
- Not only do mobiles make up 52.2% of the market share but they also overtook desktop in total internet usage in 2016. Therefore having a mobile-friendly site is critical.
Harnessing UX to Increase Rankings
As above clearly shows how SEO influences UX, it’s important to now understand how UX can increase SEO rankings.
Aligning your strategies
Ensuring your UX and SEO strategies work together and not in separate lanes is fundamental.
Design to fit SEO principles
This covers a range of elements from designing a clear navigation path, maximising H1 and H2 titles to having focused product names and description. In addition to creating content that is both natural and user friendly but also appeals to the search engines.
Responsive web design
With the number of smartphone users only increasing it’s only logical to have a site that’s optimized for all devices and platforms. Not only does it provide you with a wider audience range but it’s also a key ranking factor.
Simple yet effective navigation
The key to a successful website is simplicity, a user should never have to think about their next step. That’s why navigation is such an important factor within UX and rankability. This can then be reinforced with the use of a sitemap.
Quality is key
There are many design factors that Google takes into consideration when determining the quality of your site, navigation is just one of them. Google also assesses the relevance of the content, page layout, internal link structure, speed and content uniqueness.
The online world is a very fast-moving place with trends and best practices constantly evolving and growing. Either you grow with it and adapt your strategies accordingly or you get left behind. UX needs to be at the root of a solid SEO strategy to successfully boost online visibility and increase your conversion rate.