Everyone knows that the higher we rank on search engine results, the more traffic we get to our website and the more opportunities we get to convert those visitors into paying customers. In fact, you may already spend significant time creating content, building backlinks, and executing a whole host of SEO best practices to rank your business higher on platforms like Google.
Marketers can become so obsessed with rankings that they sometimes focus on getting more clicks to the detriment of the user experience (UX).
But what if we told you that you can have both? That great UX can be good for SEO?
Does UX Impact SEO?
Search platforms like Google keep the exact algorithms for their search results a closely guarded secret. However, there is one thing we know for sure and that is that they are always trying to deliver the very best websites when someone uses their platform to find what they are looking for.
When you consider this fact it is easy to see that better UX will always impact your search engine rankings.
Even if one specific element of good UX currently isn’t being measured and applied to search engine rankings, the likelihood is that search platforms are looking for a way to measure and rank these factors. Therefore, all improvements to UX are practically guaranteed to have a current or future impact on SEO.
When search engines first came about, they primarily focused on keywords and how regularly they were used. This leads to several issues, including websites stuffing keywords into pages as many times as humanly possible, leading to well-ranked, but horrible-to-use web pages.
In more recent years, search platforms have become savvier to UX and constantly update their algorithms to promote better websites. For example, it is widely accepted that websites that perform better on mobile and have faster load times do better in search engine results.
With the rise of e-commerce, UX has become more important both in terms of SEO and ensuring that there is less friction when making online sales. This is clear by the tools provided by some of the leading e-commerce website builders, designed to make UX seamless.
Boost SEO with Good UX
So, you may be asking what improvements can you make to the UX of your website that will also boost SEO.
Improve load speed
Don’t you just hate it when you open a website and it takes ages to load?
Well, so does Google.
Minimizing the time it takes for your website to load is a powerful way to improve the user experience whilst simultaneously boosting the attractiveness of your website to search engines.
Some statistics show that a massive 40% of people would abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. The fact that search engines use load speeds as an indicator of website quality is likely a direct reflection of this stat.
There are many ways you can reduce your website load time. A few simple strategies include:
- Reduce file sizes
- Lower the number of elements on your page
- Reduce your server response time
- Host videos on an external platform (YouTube, Vimeo)
Make your intentions clear
Attention spans are reducing. A study by Microsoft found that the average attention span in 2000 was just 8 seconds long and likely to be even shorter now.
That is why businesses need to ensure that when someone opens a page on their website that they can quickly and easily find exactly what that page is about. Correctly doing this is also a good way to show search engine platforms what is included on your site and therefore help them match search queries with the information you are providing.
Using clear headings (H1, H2, H3) will help search engines and visitors understand the layout of your content and which parts of that content are most crucial. In addition, ensuring you use the most suitable keywords and key terms in the most relevant places will support this.
When building your website, including images that add context and help further explain your content will drastically improve your user experience. However, you may have to include clear, concise alt descriptions to those images for them to be considered valuable by search engines.
Improve (lower) your bounce rate
If you regularly check your Google Analytics or an equivalent website analytics program, you will likely already be aware of the prominence of bounce rates and session durations.
Google defines your bounce rate as “single-page sessions divided by all sessions.” In other words, your bounce rate is the percentage of people who visit your website and then exit without visiting any other pages.
As the goal of your website is to drive engagement and ultimately generate profit, it is unlikely that your customer visiting just one page of your website is going to be very beneficial. A high bounce rate also indicates that your customer hasn’t found what they are looking for and have clicked away from the site to find it somewhere else.
Site speed and correct formatting will go a long way to lowering your bounce rate. However, you may also want to spend some time ensuring that there are clear calls-to-action on your site, prompting visitors to click to find out more and ultimately purchase from you.
Improve (lengthen) your session duration
Another key analytic which can be improved to both benefit UX and your search engine rankings is session duration. Similar to bounce rate, a short session duration indicates to search engines that the page they suggested didn’t answer the query they were given, ultimately leading to a lowering of your website in the rankings.
You can think of bounce rates and session durations as visitor votes for or against your website.
For example, if 99% of your visitors visit your site then immediately close it, this is a vote against it, indicating that you didn’t provide them with the information they were looking for. On the other hand, if each visitor to your site spends an average of five minutes on each page, this is a vote for your site, indicating that the content is useful and answered their query fully.
This is part of the reason why long-form content such as videos or blog posts of 1000+ words can be a great way to boost your search engine rankings. However, if that content is not relevant or well delivered, the visitor will only read a couple of sentences before deciding to close or click away from the page.
UX for Better Business
In this article, we have explored how UX can be improved as part of a wider SEO strategy. However, it is also important to remember that the ultimate goal of your website isn’t strictly to get more visitors but to convert the visitors you do get into paying customers.
Ultimately, improving your UX will lower the friction your visitors encounter when on your site, making it easier for them to buy, send an inquiry or take action on whichever goal you hold most important as a business.
Ella Patenall is a Content Writer for Tech.co, a global resource for tech news, product reviews, how-to guides, and all-around inspiration. She writes on SEO, digital marketing and content marketing. In her spare time, she writes a music blog and plays guitar in an acoustic duo.