User Experience & Search Engine Optimisation
UX and SEO, so why is this so important? To explain things simply, we can consider that SEO brings together techniques to “please” search engine robots while UX (User eXperience) aims to “please” humans who surf the web.
Are UX and SEO exclusive? Not anymore!
What is user experience and why does it have such an impact on your website’s SEO?
“ UX and SEO are like chocolate and whiskey . They’re much better together!”
( Rand Fishkin , founder of Moz)
Gone are the days when a website could be favourably indexed by search engines with the simple inclusion of a few keywords in the content. The evolution of tools, thanks in particular to Machine Learning or AI (artificial intelligence), has made the old SEO tactics almost obsolete. Other, more relevant factors now make it possible to judge the quality of a website: UX (user experience) is one of them.
UX, at the heart of Google algorithms
Google’s stated commitment is to provide personalised search results in the fastest and easiest way for the user.
The Mountain View firm has been working on optimising its own user experience for years and now pays attention to what users think of a website.
User experience or UX is therefore now central in how Google values your website and therefore your SEO strategy. In concrete terms, an indexed website that does not make it easy for users to access the information they are looking for will be penalised by Google.
Questions to ask and UX factors to identify
In order to gradually improve the UX and reach the standards defined by Google, it is important to ask yourself simple questions, putting yourself in the user’s shoes:
- Is the website loading time optimal (FAST)?
- How easy is it to contact you?
- Is it obvious for users to understand what you are offering?
- Is your offer or products / services easy to access?
- Does your website look professional? Is it visually pleasing to the user?
- Is browsing the website pleasant for the user? Is it easy to navigate?
- Can visitors intuitively find the information they are looking for?
- Do you speak directly to users, focusing on their needs? (Buyer personas)
- Are your images unique? Do they really reflect what you are offering? Are they tagged?
- Have you integrated a CTA (Call To Action)to guide users towards meeting their needs?
- Do you often answer questions asked by visitors?
- Can users get relevant information on any of the topics you are discussing?
Although Google’s algorithms are not known in detail, some factors have been identified.In particular, we know that Google takes into account the bounce rate and the number of page views.
The high bounce rate puzzle
A high bounce rate means that heavy users left your site after reading an indexed page.
And there you say to yourself:
“Thanks to the great design of my site, the user easily finds the information he was looking for and then leaves. And this is proof that my content AND my UX are of quality!”
And that could be correct! A bounce rate is also never a relevant KPI taken independently. It must be put in relation with other parameters (and Google knows it).
Still, there’s a good chance this large bounce rate will reveal a problem with UX.
This could mean that, despite the answer you might have given a user, there is a problem with the page that does not encourage the user to continue their research. This is also true if you are spending on advertising like Google Adwords (PPC AKA Pay Per Click) and the clicks are not converting.
It could be a layout flaw, scripting, or interrupted ads that hold users back.
Pop-up ads harm your UX
The problem can also be related to the bad design of the site, a bad combination of colours, loading times that take too long or the presence of spelling errors.
Too high a bounce rate is a priority worry for the users of your website but also for Google, which will consider that your website does not quickly lead to user satisfaction and will rank it unfavourably in the search results.
Even in the case mentioned at the beginning of the paragraph, Google will consider that you have not made enough effort to encourage your visitor to find more information on your site, for example with internal links, and therefore, that you don’t deserve the best possible ranking in the search results
That’s a genuine issue.
The number of pages viewed per visit
The number of page views per visit is an excellent indicator of user experience. And all this valuable data can be located in Google analytics and google search console. The higher this number, the more it means that users found the site easy to use and the content relevant and tailored to their needs.
This KPI goes hand in hand with the time spent on the site.
As with the bounce rate, this indicator is easy for Google to identify and says a lot about your consideration of visitor experience and consideration.
Of course, search engine algorithms incorporate dozens of other parameters that it would take too long – if not impossible – to describe here.
4 simple solutions to optimi3e the UX of your website
1 – Speed up website loading times
A user facing an endlessly loading site quickly loses patience and is more inclined to browse a website similar to yours.
Improving the loading speed is therefore crucial since Google has integrated this factor into its algorithms.
2 – Offer content and interactive elements
Users are always looking for more innovative and enjoyable experiences on the web. The modern user is particularly drawn to interactive content because it involves the user in a relationship with the business.
In addition to visual content , including a quiz, a contest or interactive infographics will increase the time spent on the latter’s site. The same is true for videos.
Do not limit yourself to the usual static textual content then allows you to create a better experience and therefore increases the time spent on the site, a factor used by Google for SEO.
Incorporating interactive content doesn’t mean putting the usual content on the back burner.
The user first looks for the information that meets his needs. Finding the right balance between interactivity and relevance of content makes it easy to interest users and therefore increases the time spent on the website.
Other interactive elements can be integrated into the website to improve the user experience. A Chatbot for example is a plus for the user and for the company.
3 – Ensure the responsive aspect and the design
With the development of the mobile internet and the evolution of consumer behaviour, the responsive aspect of a site is essential. Ensuring pleasant navigation and easy access to all the information on the site on all media is highly appreciated by users.
This allows the user not to lose patience when browsing on their smartphone and therefore improves your SEO.
The “Mobile-first index» Google will make its widespread occurrence in 2018.
Your mobile site will then be considered by Google as your main site. Responsive design will then no longer be important but decisive for your SEO.
4 – Create a network of relevant links
Embedding relevant links in the content on your website serves different interests.
First of all, it allows the user to go further into your content and find the information they are looking for if it is less accessible or less visible.
In addition, getting the user to browse around your site and orient them towards their needs reduces the bounce rate and increases the time spent on the site as well as the number of pages per visit.
Creating an intelligent network of links allows you to better guide the user and send strong signals to Google that show your desire to improve the UX of your website.
For Google and for you, SEO and UX have never been so closely linked.
From now on, there is no longer any question of choosing between “to please” robots and “to please” humans: pamper your fellow human beings means making Google happy.
UX & What a good SEO agency does
A good SEO agency will take this into consideration when running a SEO analysis of your website. They won’t immediately pick up all the usability issues, this will often happen over weeks and months as they continue to check your website and analyse the Google console and analytics data for you. If they identify issues with your User Experience (UX) expect them to draw your attention to it so you can direct your web designers to consider making appropriate changes.
Simple changes might be within the limits of what the SEO agency can offer and change but remember you are hiring them to market your website and the focus for them will be on doing just that. Don’t expect them to make structural changes to your website, they will only directly make changes that impact the technical SEO and not the UX as this is often delivered by design experts.
If they have an in-house design team (as we do) then they may be able to make the changes for you but as this is outside of the scope of the SEO work, there would be additional charges as it’s a different set of skills needed to make those changes. SEO experts are just that, experts so if you have the same team offering designs then it’s likely they are not dedicated professionals.
Think of it this way, you order a burger, you pay for your burger and then you decide you want fries with that, the fries are additional to what you have paid for and you expect a charge, web design as opposed to SEO works in the same way. Improving your website design and SEO efforts will positively benefit your website. While these two areas of expertise are very different, their goals are the same: to increase your website traffic and provide a good experience for your visitors.
Contact the Haych Enterprises Team for your FREE SEO analysis and if you’re designing or re-designing a website we can offer in-house website design or work with your existing designers to get the best results for your business.