In previous blogs, we’ve talked about the importance of good keyword choices and quality content for improving your website’s SEO. When people talk about search engine optimization, these are usually seen at the top of the list of things that you need for SEO success. However, one of the most important elements of a website that impacts search engine rankings is one that many people neglect: the user experience.
This is changing though, as Google and other search engines are increasingly prioritizing human behaviors and experiences when determining search results. As such, if you want your website or other online content to find their audience, you will need the user experience (or UX) will need to factor into your SEO strategies. By focusing on your site’s usability, you work to improve engagement and boost site traffic.
The User Experience & SEO
When referring to UX, it is important to understand the difference between it and the customer experience (or CX). The main difference is where in the engagement process the customer is at: UX is strictly the domain of the website itself, while CX refers to the offsite experience that happens away from your website. As such, UX refers to most aspects of how a user interacts with a website.
Some of the most vital elements for a good user experience include:
- Visual Polish: People make a lot of assumptions about a website based on its design and overall appearance. If the website looks amateurish, that’s how people will view your services.
- Fresh & Relevant Content: Offer content that is relevant to your audience using language that makes the most sense to them.
- Clear Call To Action: Whenever possible, end off on a call to action, guiding visitors to the next step in the customer journey.
- Speed: According to a Google study, 53% of visitors will leave a website if it takes more than three seconds to load. Optimize your site’s performance and prioritize loading in the most important elements first.
- Mobile Optimization: Most people browse the internet using mobile devices, so you need to be sure that your website looks good and works great on any platform.
- Accessibility: It is important to ensure that your website isn’t just accessible to able-bodied people, but those with disabilities as well.
How to Improve the User Experience
In his book Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, Steve Krug lists seven key traits for high-quality UX design. They are:
1. Useful: Does it do something people need done?
2. Learnable: Can people figure out how to use it?
3. Memorable: Do they have to relearn it each time they use it?
4. Effective: Does it get the job done?
5. Efficient: Does it get the job done within a reasonable amount of time and effort?
6. Desirable: Do people want it?
7. Delightful: Is using it enjoyable?
Many of these might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many websites fail at the most basic of levels. A good website needs to offer something that people want in a format that is desirable, so you need to put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. Not only do you need to deliver content that’s valuable and engaging, but you need to do so in a way that’s easy to navigate and understand.
Why is UX So Important?
The biggest reason for the shift from a “search engine oriented” approach to a “user oriented” approach should be obvious: people want to be recommended content that’s actually relevant to them and their needs rather than get an endless list of websites that figured out how to game the system. If people aren’t getting relevant search results, there isn’t much reason to use a search engine, so it is in the best interests of companies like Google to prioritize websites that offer a positive user experience. These are the kinds of websites that attract users and get them interested in the brands behind them.
So if you want more people to see your online content, you not only need to worry about the content itself, but how people will experience it.