Is your website easy to navigate? Does it load quickly? Does it feature quality and engaging content that encourages visitors to stick around? Is your site secure and fast? Does it display well on a mobile device? These are factors that Google and search engines try to assess when determining the rank of your website.
Remember that when search engine bots crawl your site, they’re looking at the overall experience it offers to potential visitors. Their goal is to provide only the best possible content or website to searchers, after all. They wouldn’t want to send them sites that are confusing, have poor content, and don’t sufficiently answer queries.
To put it simply, Google (and search engines, in general) care about User Experience (UX).
What Is User Experience?
User eXperience (commonly abbreviated as UX) is all about how consumers experience a physical or tangible product. The said product can be as complex as a website or as simple as a milk carton. It’s all about how someone feels when using the said product. Does it make them feel happy or excited? Is the product a joy to use? Does it meet their expectations and fulfill their needs?
Over the years, elements of UX have been rolled into SEO best practices and that’s because of an overlap in their goals. Both actually share the objective of helping users complete their tasks by providing them with relevant and organised information. While SEO directs individuals to the content they’re searching for, UX guarantees that their queries are answered succinctly and comprehensively on the webpage where they’re led to.
With Google aiming to give searchers the best experience possible, it goes without saying that web developers and digital marketers have to adapt and aim for the same goal as well. By incorporating user experience into the web design and development process, you can improve your website’s chances of ranking well on search engine results.
User Experience versus Usability
You’ll often hear both terms used interchangeably and that’s for a good reason. Both can actually be used to describe the ease with which a site visitor navigates your website. The difference between these two lies in the fact that UX is considered broader in its scope than usability.
A website that is usable or user-friendly will be able to help site visitors find the information they’re looking for or attain their goals with ease. One that offers a good user experience is one that offers to do the same but without discounting on aesthetics.
For instance, your website can be straightforward to use but look a little too bland to impress anyone. You can say that, in this case, your site has excellent usability but could still improve in the user experience department. This is why you’ll often see content peppered with eye-catching photos or funny illustrations. Such visual materials don’t improve the usability of the site, but it does contribute to the overall user experience on a website.
Is User Experience and Usability Important to SEO?
As you formulate a plan for your SEO campaign, you’ll eventually be confronted by this question. The short answer is “yes”, but let us dig deeper into why these should be considered in any SEO strategy.
Keep in mind that search engines are getting smarter and they’ve gone beyond basic SEO practices. Nowadays, they focus more on how people feel using your website—the guiding principle behind the UX factor. This is why the leader of the bunch, Google, tries to gauge if your website does what your visitors need it to do. Through higher bounce rates, search engines can tell if users actually find your site useful or easy to use.
It’s recommended when hiring an SEO company or gurus to be knowledgeable about making user experience and SEO work together. By incorporating usability and UX into your SEO strategy, you’re getting in line with what search engines want: providing people with the best results for their query. And these days, the best result isn’t limited to the websites that offer the best answer. Those that provide the best overall experience get to be considered for the said criteria, too.
Even if you’ve written excellent content for a particular search query, Google and other search engines will probably not consider your post the best answer if your site is generally slow, unsafe, or a total mess.
How Google Gauges User Experience
Over the years, a lot of evidence has sprung up suggesting how critical UX has become to Google. In the search giant’s drive to provide user-focused and user-friendly results, it introduced RankBrain back in 2015. This factor in determining the SEO value of a website has been considered significant by digital marketers, falling slightly below content and links.
The RankBrain algorithm is driven by behavior metrics, which basically covers bounce rate, pages per session, organic CTR, and dwell time. If a user visits your website time and again, spends a good amount of time in your pages, and gets around the website with ease, it’s a telling sign that your domain offers good UX. These signals tell Google that your target audience has enjoyed their experience on your website and this fact can definitely improve your ranking on search page results.
Holistic, User-Centric SEO
At the end of the day, your goal in optimising (or developing) your website is to make sure that it’s excellent all around. See if it’s easy to use, secure from malware threats, and provides useful content. You’re striving for all these because you want users to stick around long enough to be convinced to buy your products, subscribe to your newsletter, or attend your events.
Although it may seem like you’re shooting for the stars by aiming for such lofty aims, just remember that Google and search engines, in general, don’t expect perfection. However, they do reward any webmaster that puts a premium on excellent user experience and quality content.
In the words of Google: “Focus on the user and all else will follow.”
Do you want your website to hit this particular metric? Get in touch and we’ll assess your domain with the goal of helping you make the necessary and effective changes toward better user experience.