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UX + SEO: How User Experience Fits Into SEO (and How to Balance the Two)
Pop-up video ads that automatically play sound.
Ads that cover content.
No headings or emphasized text (i.e. content that’s one huge block of black and white)
Slow page load time.
I’ll stop there.
Everything I mentioned above are website attributes that annoy people at best and piss them off at worst. They’re also all characteristics of both poor SEO and poor user experience (UX).
What Is UX (User Experience)?
“User experience” refers to the emotions and attitudes a person experiences while using a website.
The way a person navigates, interacts with, and uses a website are all part of user experience. An optimal user experience helps a person find the information they need to in a pleasing, frictionless way.
UX + SEO: What’s the Deal?
To the untrained eye, SEO and user experience clash.
In the early days of SEO, the name of the game was keyword stuffing. The more times you could fit a keyword into a page, the better. I’ll admit it—I was guilty of it back in the day. Most of us were. Everything was about keyword density and variation. Google’s ranking algorithm heavily emphasized keywords, so we latched onto that fact and the worst of us exploited it.
It was terrible for user experience (unless you enjoy reading every single synonym for a word 20 times in a row).
Thankfully, SEO and Google’s algorithm have come a long way since then. It’s constantly changing and adapting to give users the best experience and to prevent black hat SEO tactics from manipulating search results. Part of the mystery of Google’s search algorithm is that it takes a LOT of ranking signals into account before displaying results.
There is a reason Google includes certain ranking factors in its algorithm. Google wants us to find the most relevant and helpful information, and thanks to trillions and trillions of kilobytes of data, search engines have been able to learn what kind of web pages people like best.
In short, RankBrain tweaks the algorithm on its own.
Depending on the keyword, RankBrain will increase or decrease the importance of backlinks, content freshness, content length, domain authority, etc.
Then, it looks at how Google searchers interact with the new search results. If users like the new algorithm better, it stays. If not, RankBrain rolls back the old algorithm.
Image source: Backlinko
Over the past few years, Google has shifted more to user experience because, well—that’s what people want.
SEO + UX: How to Balance the Two
It’s actually easier than it seems. Use your common sense. If it’s bad user experience it’s probably going to affect your SEO rankings.
But, if you want it spelled out, below are attributes your website needs to have in order to pass both the SEO and the user experience test:
1. Speed up your page load time
Your website needs to be fast. While website speed is largely subjective, every single visitor needs to see SOMETHING happen on your website within three seconds. After three seconds, 53% of mobile consumers will click the “back” button. Bad for UX and bad for SEO.
To test your own website speed enter your website’s URL into Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. This will give you a page speed score and give you page speed optimization tips specific for your website.
2. Get an SSL certificate and make your site secure
Your website needs to be secure (HTTPS instead of HTTP). You do this by getting an SSL certificate. The modern consumer is informed. One side effect of this is that they’re much more aware of the dangers of visiting an unsecured website—82% of people wouldn’t browse an unsecured website.
If your website has any place where users can fill in personal information (even if it’s just a phone number and email address) it needs to be secure. Heck, even if it’s just a blog with no contact form it should be secure because website security is a search ranking factor.
3. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly
Mobile website traffic (website traffic that happens on either a tablet or a smartphone) now outpaces desktop web traffic, and experts predict that at least 30% of searches will happen without a screen by 2020.
4. Build a clean, easy-to-use design featuring your contact info
Your design needs to look good and add value—and Google will know if it doesn’t. When they land on your website, 64% of visitors want to see your contact information, and 44% of visitors will leave if there’s no contact information or phone number available.
Make sure your contact info is marked up with Schema and visible above the fold on your home page (preferably in the top right-hand corner).
5. Include clear headings on all pages
You need headings (H1,H2,H3,H4) on all your pages. People like to skim content. Nobody likes a huge block of text. Make sure to use headings that break up content and give your audience something to skim.
6. Skip the pop-up ads
And really, any ads that cover content. In Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, there’s actually a blurb in there about dinging websites that have ads that cover content. Skip the popups, and focus on creating quality content.
7. Include videos, but silence video ads
Incorporating videos into your website design is a necessity for both UX and SEO. Not only is a video 50 times more likely to rank organically in the search results than text pages, but people also spend on average 2.6x more time on pages with video than without.
However, if you host video ads that auto-play, you’re going to get dinged in the search results. Auto-play video ads go under the “poor ad experience” bucket. People hate them—82% of people report that they have closed a web page because of an auto-playing video ad, and 51% of people say they think less of brands that use auto-playing online video ads.
The Importance of UX in SEO
People like images. They’re easier to read. So, in order to give you a better user experience on this page, I’ll skip the list of statistics and go straight to an infographic that will show you the importance of UX in SEO:
Worried About the SEO of Your Website’s User Experience? We Can Help
Your website is arguably your most important marketing asset, and its success hinges on its user experience.
Consider these statistics:
- A single bad experience on a website makes users 88% less likely to visit the website again
- Your website’s conversion rate could increase by 200% to 400% with a well-designed interface
- 48% of people say a website’s design is the number one factor in deciding the credibility of a business
To put it simply, the way your website looks and functions matters to your bottom line. Your website should have an AMAZING user experience if you want it to work FOR you. A professional website redesign company, like Blue Corona, can help with this. If you’re unhappy with how your website currently looks, feels, acts, or functions, we’re only a click away.
About The Author: Blue Corona's Editorial Staff is determined to help you increase your leads and sales, optimize your marketing costs, and differentiate your brand by passing on our tribal knowledge. The team vigilantly stays on top of the latest in digital marketing, bringing you the top insights with expert commentary. Want to see something on our blog you haven't seen yet? Shoot us an email and our marketing team will get to work.
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