By Lucy Bradley
User experience, commonly referred to as UX, refers to all aspects of a user’s interaction with a company site, product or service. What is important about UX is the way the user feels about these interactions at the time they are facing them. With the frequency of algorithm changes, search engines have now advanced enough to not only provide results to the user that contain the answers to their search queries but also provide them with a high-quality user experience. User signals are now playing a greater role in search rankings, so it’s only natural that they should subsequently play a larger part in our SEO effort. Ultimately, UX and SEO work together to please search engines and provide the best experience to users.
A site that is well designed doesn’t just mean looking aesthetically pleasing and being on brand, UX is a huge part of the design process in website creation. A pretty design is a useless design if there is no clearly defined user journey, and users are unsure where to navigate to on the page. Part of this is creating menus that are user-friendly, optimised for mobiles and contain all the pages that they should – this plays a huge part in a user journey and overall user experience. If a user cannot easily find the page they are looking for, they will leave the site, simple as that.
This isn’t simply a high priority for your home page, it should be site wide. Take a look at your internal linking structure, can this be improved in any way? Make it easier for users to find the information that they are looking for. Not only does this bring joy to the user, but can also lead to site links appearing in Google search results, helping you dominate your competition!
Having a mobile optimised site should now be a priority, especially with Google announcing their new mobile-first index. Google wants their results to represent the majority of their users, who as we have mentioned are now mobile users. This makes it increasingly important to ensure your mobile site contains all the right content, as this is what crawlers are now going to be looking at – don’t miss out on ranking opportunities. Make sure your mobile site is a fully responsive version of your desktop version to ensure this.
We’ve all experienced the annoyance of a site that’s slow to load and I’m sure we’ve all lost patience and navigated away from the page. Therefore, it’s no surprise that 53% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. This is quite a powerful statistic, well how about that a 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. Your page speed is having a direct impact on your conversion rate, but why is that? Quite simply, slow page speed leads to a lower quality user experience. Users are looking for the answer to their queries in the fastest time possible, and if a website fails to do that, they will navigate to the next result the search engine provides. If we look at this from a search engine’s perspective, they want users to have the best experience possible, therefore will rank pages higher if they provide the answers to users queries more effectively. Site speed isn’t important for your desktop site, but also your mobile site. Starting in July 2018, Google will use mobile page speed as a ranking in their mobile search results. If you want a little more information on speeding up your website, see our tips and tricks here.
An easy actionable aspect to look at for user experience is to take a look at the headings on your page. Previously, your H1 and H2 tags used to be the prime opportunity for keywords in the search engines. However, as Google has gotten more advanced this isn’t so much the case. Headings work to provide a hierarchical structure which indicates to users how they should navigate your page, and can, therefore, have a direct impact on the user journey.
Your H tags are there to tell both users and search engines what the separate sections are about on your page, and can really enhance both UX and search engine understanding. However, make sure you use them appropriately. You should use only one H1 tag on the page, which is used to tell both search engines and users the key focus of the page (this also can have an impact on rankings). So choose your keywords appropriately.
It can be difficult to know where to start with improving your UX, or making sure that you choose to focus on areas that are most relevant to your site. This is where Google Analytics becomes your best friend. You can really drill down into users behavior, see the bounce rate, how long they’re spending on each individual page and how many pages on average they are viewing during their session. We’ve put together a handy guide on combating the issues your Google Analytics flags up which you can view here:
Part 1 Solving Your Google Analytics Issues
Part 2 Solving Your Google Analytics Issues
In 2018, it’s really important to broaden our SEO skill set to incorporate UX so that we can provide the best on page experience for users. This will not only be beneficial to our website users and their user journey but for the search engines eyes and therefore search rankings.