Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is crucial to your website’s success. The higher up you rank in the search engine (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc), the higher the chances of the searcher clicking it. This would potentially increase your site conversion rate and have more customers buying your products or services.
The conventional way of going about SEO is to focus primarily on keywords and link building. However, the way search engines rank websites evolve over time. As an example, back in the day, digital marketers could literally overuse specific keywords on the page so that the content ranks higher in the search results.
Nowadays, Google could detect the dirty tactic and penalize you for it.
An important element to the success of SEO these days is the User Experience (UX). If you want your website to rank well, Google makes sure that users who visit your website actually enjoy the overall experience.
UX design isn’t just about making your website look pretty like what some people think. That’s more on UI, a completely different topic for another day.
UX design is about ensuring your website is efficient and provides a meaningful experience to the user. This is the process of understanding who your audience is, drawing sketches and wireframing the flow of your website, creating the prototype for your “new” website, and performing usability tests to evaluate your website. The biggest brands in the world put a lot of emphasis on UX and are also one of the reasons why they rank well.
It is a lot of work and looking for a UX design agency can be a daunting experience, but this Medium article has listed the best website design agencies out there. Chances are, you already have a website up and running on WordPress. You can also hire a WordPress developer to customize your website to suit your preferences.
In this article, I’ll be explaining how with some effort and attention into UX, you can increase your page rankings on search engines. I’ve also pulled together some important facts which may help you make sense of the importance of UX on your SEO!
Good UX Reduces Bounce Rates
“Bounce rates? What?”
According to Google, a bounce is when a user only goes to a page on your website and exits. Like how there are times you would click a link to a website after searching it on Google, find it unattractive, and go back to the search page.
Obviously, high bounce rates aren’t good, but this is also dependent on the nature of your website and how you would set a baseline. Typically, higher bounce rates are okay for news and blogs. According to an article by RocketFuel, a bounce rate between 26-40% is excellent, while 56-70% is poor.
So, how does UX come into play?
For starters, the first impression and how the users feel about the website is a HUGE factor in bounce rates.
Let’s say you own e-commerce selling smartphone accessories, and a potential customer is looking for a tempered glass screen protector for his old iPhone 7. Chances are, it’s not going to be on the homepage because there are plenty of newer models that deserve the page.
So unless your navigation panel or page setup considers the importance of UX and makes it easy for him/her to look for what he or she wants, the user will leave. Google takes note of this through its algorithms and reduces the probability of your website ranking high when another user searches for something similar using the same query on google.
Speed Will Increase Ranks
Page load time has always been an important signal for Google when it comes to rankings. Faster load times equals better user experience.
In fact, Forrester Consulting found that 40% of shoppers won’t wait longer than 3 seconds for a retail or travel site to load before abandoning it. The longer the load time, the higher the bounce rates, and the lower your rank.
John Mueller, a Webmaster Trend Analyst at Google tweeted “Make sure they [pages] load fast… aim for <2-3 seconds” in 2016.
Optimizing the UX of your page can definitely improve load times. One of the popular ways of achieving this is by cropping and compressing high-quality images and removing and auto-play multimedia forms. Another cool method is by using lazy loading, which is allowing images to load only when the users reach that part of the page.
There are more tricks up the UX designer’s sleeves, but you can bet that with optimized UX comes better rankings.
It’s All About Mobile
UX isn’t just about making the desktop website use-friendly. This approach applies to mobile devices as well. If your website doesn’t have a mobile version in 2020, you are already at a HUGE loss and you have to catch up. Here are some facts I’ve managed to pull:
- Even if users like a business, 50% of them use it less if the website isn’t mobile-friendly (Think with Google)
- 53% of mobile site users abandon a page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load (Think with Google)
- 74% of users may return to a website if it is mobile-friendly (Red Website Design)
- 2/3 minutes that are spent online are on mobile (Red Website Design)
As it turns out, Google has been working on making its indexes mobile-first. Meaning, Google’s algorithm (which they are secretive of) will eventually use the mobile version of your site’s content to rank pages from your site.
This helps Google overcome the issues of mobile sites having less content than what the desktop site has to offer, yet still gets ranked according to the desktop site for mobile users.
Like how loading times on the desktop sites have a direct correlation, this same concept applies to the mobile site. Research from Google/SOASTA in 2017 found that as pages take 1-3 seconds to load, the probability for a user to bounce increases to 32%. If it takes 1-5 seconds, the bounce probability increases to 90%! Again, UX optimization, even for mobile, has a lot to do with page loading times.
But if you don’t have a mobile-friendly website yet, don’t panic!
At the time of writing, Google is still in the process of implementing this mobile-site index. Google suggests that while you are still working on your mobile version of the site, a fully functioning desktop version will still rank better than a mobile site that’s incomplete. So launch it when you’re ready!
Although UX and SEO are completely different on their own, they are not mutually exclusive. As search engines evolve over time, webmasters will need the upper edge to rank higher, and tough competition between websites will push them through extra lengths such as delving into the world of UX design to enhance the user experience. Read this site to learn more about user experience design.
We don’t know what new algorithm Google will come up with to rank pages, but we can be certain that they will always cater for humans, and to stay competitive in the search engine segment, will rank pages according to the best experience humans can get.