User experience may not first come to mind when you think of SEO, but what exactly is a search engine optimized website? Many bloggers and website owners mistakenly believe that it’s making your site more relevant with title tags, meta tags, and alt tags. If you think the same, then you’ve been fooled by SEO. An optimized website follows a set of on-page practices to make it more search engine friendly. While tags do help Google understand your site’s content, the search engine uses more than 200 ranking factors to evaluate SERP ranking.
All of Google’s ranking factors can be summed up into these five major bullets. Two are based on link-building approach, one is based on social presence, and two are based on user experience, which is within your control. I’ve written posts on link-building, on-page SEO, and social media previously, but today I’d like to discuss the importance of user experience. Why should we focus on user behavior and user-centric SEO approaches?
Google launches new updates and refreshes regularly to improve their search result quality and give users what they want. Killing all web spam is impossible because there’s always a way to manipulate the algorithm. That said, Bill Slawski informed us that Google has many patents and uses user behavior data to improve their search results. Rand also stated that dwell time and pogosticking are used to rank websites on SERP. It’s clear that Google looks at user behavior and uses it as a powerful factor in evaluating the site’s online worth.
When you first start a SEO campaign, the first thing you must analyze is user experience. It’s best to gain more organic traffic by implementing on-page and off-page changes that facilitate a more positive experience for your users. After all, simply adding in tags and keywords will be meaningless if users aren’t able to understand or interact within your website’s interface. It’s all about creating an online atmosphere that piques your visitors’ interests and converts them into paying customers. Websites need to be responsive, intuitive, and inviting to draw in users.
What is User Experience (UX)?
User experience, often abbreviated as UX, is a term that covers a whole range of website features from ease of use to user engagement and visual appeal. UX captures all of the behavioral and psychological aspects of users’ interactions with web pages. User experience on a site directly reflects how visitors will behave. When UX is awesome, you can expect more site engagement and user interactions. Poor UX will undoubtedly lead to poor SEO and vice versa. User experience always has four elements:
- Usability – Is it easy to explore and complete the task?
- Value – Does the website provide value to users? Does it publish valuable information that’s required or sought after by users?
- Adaptability – Does the website convince visitors to use the products or services?
- Desirability – Is the interface engaging and visually pleasing?
It’s not necessary to keep all elements equal for every website. For instance, if you’re designing a social network, then it’s important to provide “adaptability” regardless of its features, usability, and content. This will make certain users can easily discover the website and signup with their own profiles. Adaptability cannot depend on marketing. The next part is “desirability” of the social network. Is it fun and engaging? Even if adaptability is good, failing to make users engage more on the website will affect its end results.
However, if you’re creating an eCommerce site, then all four elements are equally important. You can’t neglect any of the elements from your eCommerce design. Users should adopt the site easily, benefit from ease of use, engage with offers, and find valuable information that they need. When one is missing, there will be a noticeable drop in purchases.
Making an interface that brings all of these elements together will generate an amazing user experience that positively affects your user behavior. Thus, users will love visiting your website again and again to learn more. Since UX has so much influence on user behavior, Google uses it as a clear signal that the website is equally valuable to its users.
Measuring a Website’s UX
Now, let’s discuss how these elements can be numerically measured for your website. This can be tricky like measuring your ROI, but there are several analytical clues utilized to measure your UX. User behavior can be counted by the below analytic parameters:
- On Site
- Average time on website
- Bounce rate
- Page views
- Exit rate
- On SERP
- Click-through rate
- Dwell time
Matt Cutts denies that analytical parameters like bounce rate and average time on site aren’t evaluated. However, click-through rate (CTR), dwell time, and pogosticking are considerably used by Google to assess a website’s quality for a specific search query. As I said before, the analytics parameters aren’t the same as ranking factors, but they’re closely correlated. Having a low bounce rate and high average time on site shows that users are engaging with content. The combo of CTR and dwell time is something that’s very hard to manipulate, so Google can trust these parameters for judging user behavior.
Steps to Create Awesome User Experience
So, what can you do to improve overall site experience? Keep all of the elements in mind and continually crank out fun, engaging content. You could improve user experience by taking the consultative approach of testing, monitoring, and conducting surveys. Yet, you really only need to focus on designs that fit UX principles. For instance, maximize your headline titles, optimize your menu names, create clear navigation tasks, and provide exciting product descriptions. Make certain you’re adding in a clear call-to-action that draws in users.
For high conversions and search rankings, simply give users what they want. Focus on quality by boosting your page speed, making navigation easier, eliminating duplicate content, and following an internal link structure. When you utilize a great UX design, users will love your website, visit more often, stay viewing your page, and avoid going back to Google for browsing other websites. SEO and UX are a match made in heaven when organized well in perfect harmony.