When starting a website or blog, the user experience needs to be in the forefront of our minds. We can tweak code and employ algorithms until we’re blue in the face, but ultimately our search engine rankings reflect how well we provide our readers with a quality experience across all aspects of the site.
Something intangible like “user experience” (UX), is hard to put in hard terms and facts that a developer or designer can use. The concept is nice, but how is it reflected in more concrete aspects of web and blog design?
The answer lies in certain SEO ranking factors and practices that contribute to the overall user experience. By targeting these, we can better understand the how’s and why’s of the user experience in a way that allows us to take actionable steps when needed.
3 Vital UX Factors That Affect Rankings
This approach allows web developers and designers the chance to see a vague concept like “user experience” through the lens of more concrete SEO concepts and how these factors and practices can be used to positively affect and alter the UX of your website.
The user experience is something Google is always looking to improve. A brief glimpse into Google’s User Experience Lab shows just how dedicated the company is to understanding how and why a positive experience is achieved so they can better analyze and reward that outcome in the search rankings.
Here are three ways you can analyze and improve your site’s UX today:
1. Page Loading Speed
The UX begins when the user clicks on your website. If they have to wait ten seconds or more for your site to load, they will move on. Site speed has long been a factor in SEO rankings, but it also provides users with a first impression of your site.
The bottom line is that longer load times directly affect your conversions and ultimately your bottom line as a result.According to a study done by Kissmetrics, every second past the ideal loading time of three seconds costs you a seven percent reduction in sales!
If you see a rise in your bounce rate or a decrease in your page views, it could be that your site is loading slowly. To check it, utilize Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to see if your website loads fast on all devices, and if not, how to fix it.
If you suspect that your load times are too high, here are some quick tips to get them down to where you need them:
- Optimize your site’s database by adding an index.
- If you’re on WordPress, use a caching plugin like W3 Total Cache.
- If you’re running an eCommerce store, leverage Shopify’s buy now button.
- Make sure your images are optimized by running them through a tool likeOptimizilla.
A great example is my friend Matt’s website, On Blast Blog. His homepage loads incredibly fast, but still has high-quality images. When building his site, he smartly compressed his images and leveraged a strong page cache.
2. Intuitive Site Organization
Part of what defines a high-quality UX is how quickly and easily visitors can access various parts of your site. The best way to ensure is this is through the use of effectively designed menus and submenus. Start with anywhere from four to six main categories, and then create a contact page and an “About Us” page so people can easily reach you or get to know your brand.
As a rule of thumb, make sure it doesn’t take more than two clicks for visitors to find anything on your site. One click for the category, and one for the post or page. Anything more and you risk overcomplicating the process.
In addition to these things, another great way to improve the UX on your site is to include internal links to other pages. This allows visitors to pursue topics or find another post quickly and easily. This type of convenience is great for your visitors, and it benefits your SEO as well.
Making this change will net you lower bounce rates, increased conversions, and high click-through rates.
Here are some actionable steps to take regarding site organization:
- Break down the path between your homepage and your content into categories (no more than two clicks to reach any piece of content).
- Include internal links to other pieces in your posts (keep it relevant).
- Provide access to an “About Us” page, and a “Contact Us” page.
3. Mobile Responsiveness
In April of 2015, Google released a new algorithm update that focused on sites that were mobile responsive. This term refers to a website’s ability to display itself in a readable format on both a desktop and a mobile device. If it looks great on one, but looks poor on another, then Google’s update tanked their search rankings.
Why the big change? Well, as we already know Google is all about a high-quality UX. Since most people are now browsing the web on mobile devices, this kind of check was logical. People should be able to have the same level of quality on their mobile devices, doubly so if they use them primarily.
Google’s update, when it was released, was referred to by many names including mobilegeddon, mobilepocalypse, or just mopocalypse. People were scared because without being mobile-responsive, their websites would fall through the rankings like a keyword stuffed turkey on thanksgiving.
Thankfully, Google released aMobile-Friendly Test tool to help you check and see if your website fits their standards. If you come back with a negative, don’t give up. There are several ways to make your site mobile friendly:
- If you’re using WordPress, there are a variety of mobile-ready responsive themes to choose from. Easy fix!
- For web developers, the use of CSS3 Media Queries will allow you to code the maximum width of the website on mobile devices.
SEO ranking factors and analytics like page views, bounce rate, and others all point towards the user experience. By improving the UX, you ultimately improve your SEO in the process. Focus on these major factors and you’ll see your website’s statistics improve to the point where you want them to be.
Thanks for reading and be sure to share your tips for maximizing the user experience in the comments below!