Creating a great website isn’t easy. Making it look good and creating awesome content isn’t enough. If you want the website to drive conversions, you need to consider user experience as well.
But with the many definitions of what constitutes a good user experience, which one is the right one? In this article, we’ll look at what experts from Google are saying. We’ll also look at how you can create that great user experience to wow your website visitors every single time.
Ready? Let’s go.
A good user experience (UX) benefits both website visitors and the website owner.
With a good user experience, website visitors can enjoy seamless interaction with your site. That means they can do whatever they intended without any disruptions. On the other hand, when visitors have a poor user experience, they’re more likely to leave your website without taking the desired action. What’s more, they’ll probably never come back.
As a website owner, visitors leaving your site in droves is a disaster. If too many people leave before doing anything, you end up with less of everything: fewer purchases, fewer subscriptions, and fewer marketing sign-ups. That means your leads and conversions suffer—and so does your revenue.
In other words, user experience and UX design are crucial to your business success.
Bounce rate and conversion rate are not the only things that user experience affects. It affects your search engine optimization (SEO) performance, as well.
Google takes into account the user experience element of websites when ranking them in search results. The better your user experience, the more plus points for you. And then there’s the fact that UX will soon become a ranking factor in itself. Starting in 2021, Google will rank websites according to “page experience”.
Here are some of the metrics page experience measures, according to Google’s developer document:
This isn’t a surprising development. Google has long believed that the user should be at the center of everything. Just take a look at the company’s mission statement:
In other words, Google is walking the talk by prioritizing amazing user experiences, and it expects other sites to follow suit. If they don’t, their search rankings will suffer.
Now that you understand the link between user experience and SEO, it’s time to look at ways to improve the user experience your site offers. As you’ll see, the basis for many of these tips is Google’s user experience view. If you follow these tips, you’ll soon see improved SEO results.
The quicker your website loads, the better for you and your website visitors. But what exactly is a fast loading speed? According to Maile Ohye, who spoke in a Google Webmaster video, “2 seconds is the threshold for e-commerce website acceptability. At Google, we aim for under half a second”.
Google also talked about the Largest Contentful Paint—a measure of the amount of time a website takes to display the largest content on the screen—occurring within the first 2.5 seconds. That means that when you create a landing page or homepage, the most prominent element above the fold must appear and be ready for interaction within that time frame.
To optimize your homepage or your landing page, here are some things you can do:
To know your page speed, you can use PageSpeed Insights. Just input the website URL, and you’ll get a performance score based on various metrics:
The tool will also give you suggestions on how to increase your page loading speed.
Don’t make it difficult for your website visitors to navigate your site. For Google, that means getting rid of anything that might disrupt the viewing experience. In its developer document, Google cited three instances of content becoming inaccessible to the user:
The screenshot below shows We3’s homepage. It’s a perfect example of a website that’s easy to navigate: It’s simple, the elements are easily distinguishable, and all the content is easily accessible.
In contrast, here’s an example of poor design:
The text is hard to read, there are far too many options, and the navigational menu is too small and difficult to find.
Even without Google’s guidelines, it’s easy to test if a site is easy to navigate. Ask a selection of test users to review it during the design process and give you feedback. Your selection should be representative of your target website visitors. Ask them what they liked about the prototype, what they didn’t like about it, and why the user flow works or doesn’t.
Internal linking is also an essential part of site navigability. Link to relevant internal content on your site that will help users learn more or find more information. Pro tip: read up on anchor text optimization to ensure you’re using appropriate anchor texts for both human readers and Google’s crawlers. If you don’t, you might incur a Google penalty.
Over 50% of all the world’s web traffic now comes from mobile devices. Therefore, ensure your site has a mobile-optimized media display so that the images, videos, and call-to-action buttons look just right on different screen sizes. You should also ensure your font sizes are readable on a small screen and that you break up blocks of text with plenty of white space.
Google has a mobile-friendly test tool you can use to determine if your site is mobile-friendly. Just enter the website URL, and it will tell you if a site is fit for mobile. It will even show you how a site looks from a mobile device. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, Google will give you suggestions on how to improve it.
The best way to ensure that a site is mobile-friendly is by using a responsive site design in the first place. It doesn’t matter if it’s custom-built or a template. A responsive site design will look good on any type of device, including cell phones. Cue happy visitors and a greatly improved user experience.
Quality content matters. If your website provides excellent content, it gives website visitors a great user experience and an incentive to keep coming back again and again.
But what exactly is quality content? According to Google, it has E.A.T: expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. In other words, you or your writers should be experts in the subject matter so that your website demonstrates the authority and trustworthiness that readers expect.
That content should also be easily digestible. The idea is to give website visitors something of value. So write to express, not impress. Use simple language and visuals like infographics and screenshots to get your point across.
If you always remember that you’re writing for a human audience (as opposed to search engine crawlers), you’re already enhancing the user experience. Use content testing to ensure your content is the best it can possibly be.
Good SEO practice is essential for website success. Whether you’re writing long-form, keyword-optimized articles, or building your backlinks through guest posting, every step you take will help build and maintain your site’s audience.
But without a great user experience, you can’t meet your goals. UX doesn’t just benefit website visitors. It also helps website owners to enjoy increased traffic, leads, and conversions.
Google has made it clear that UX and SEO are inextricably linked, and starting in 2021, this will become an official ranking metric. This means that websites that provide an excellent user experience (and great SEO) will fare better in search results.
I’ve outlined the steps to improve user experience in this article. Now it’s over to you. Just follow the steps, invest some time, and stick with it. User experience isn’t as complicated as it sounds. It’s just about understanding what the user wants and needs and taking them into account every step of the way.
About the author:
Matt Diggity is a search engine optimisation expert focused on affiliate marketing, client ranking, lead generation, and SEO services. He is the founder and CEO of Diggity Marketing, The Search Initiative, Authority Builders, LeadSpring LLC, and host of the Chiang Mai SEO Conference.