In May 2020, Google announced an algorithm update to evaluate ranking factors. A user’s perceived experience can now be quantified, which is a total game-changer in the world of web design and search engine optimization (SEO). The rollout began in June 2021 and was completed about a year ago. We now have information to share about how Google uses user experience (UX) as a ranking factor and what you can do to up your game in the digital space.
What is User Experience?
UX is a term referring to the way a visitor feels when they interact with a website or app. It takes into account the ease of use, how visually attractive it is, and how simple it is to navigate. UX optimization makes people’s interactions with your site or app as pleasurable as possible.
A positive user experience is necessary for any company’s site. If your audience doesn’t understand how to use your website or finds it too difficult to navigate, they’re likely to bounce quickly and never return. However, if your site is simple to use and offers a positive user experience, you’re more likely to retain visitors and convert them into paying customers.
Is UX Important for SEO?
The short answer is: absolutely! Several factors go into your SEO rankings, many of which now encompass an overall user experience. Here’s a look at a few top factors:
Site speed is an incredibly important UX factor in SEO, and Google reviews site speed as a ranking factor. The faster your site loads, the more likely you are to appear higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs). On a related note, if your site loads too slowly, visitors are likely to leave quickly, impacting your bounce rate and negatively impacting your SEO rankings.
Mobile-friendliness was once a luxury item that only big-name businesses could afford. Now you can’t afford not to be mobile-friendly, no matter how large or small your company is. Google considers mobile-friendliness when determining where you should live in the SERPs. After all, the majority of searches these days (around 60%) are conducted on mobile devices.
Visual stability refers to the ability of a design to preserve a consistent look and feel, even if the design changes. Think about your marketing and branding efforts and where you want to maintain that visual identity across all of your collateral. The same is true for your website.
Although it’s not always easy to maintain visual stability online, it’s vital to think about this element during the design process. Your global layout needs to be pretty simple, allowing for flexibility in separate elements. Also, be careful with colors, typography, and images you use, opting for ways to create a unified look your visitors can easily recognize.
User-Friendly Permalink Structures
Permalinks are significant for SEO because they tell Google what your blog posts or pages are about. If your site’s permalinks are too long or complicated, Google will have a tough time crawling and indexing your content, which will ultimately harm your SEO efforts. UX SEO uses short, keyword-rich permalinks.
Menus and Headers: Navigational Elements
When looking at user experience and SEO, you must ensure people can navigate your website easily. This means adding menus and headers so people can readily understand how to interact with your content and pages. They need to be easy to comprehend and use. Again, a hard-to-use website invites people to leave immediately and never come back. This is bad for your brand and SEO.
UX is Now a Google Ranking Factor
Now that you know a little bit more about what UX is and why it’s useful, it’s essential to understand that these elements now factor into Google’s ranking algorithm. Like many big changes the search giant makes, the UX Google ranking factor really changed the game for some companies that had let their websites fall into disrepair (or never really bothered to get into the user-friendliness experience in the first place).
UX + SEO Best Practices
There are some SEO UX best practices you should consider implementing into your own website’s design:
1. Core Web Vitals
Core Web Vitals show how your pages are performing. As noted above, longer page loading times can severely impact your SEO rankings; if you’re trying to figure out where you stand as far as page load speeds, this is where you’ll want to go to examine your data.
2. Responsive Web Design
Responsive web design enables your site’s content to flow freely across all screen types, sizes, and resolutions, rendering the images and text well on any device. It is also unnecessary to have different versions of your site for mobile and desktop, saving you time, resources, and effort.
3. Website Architecture
A well-designed website architecture improves dwell time and entices visitors to consume more of your content. Ultimately, this will drive more conversions and improve your company’s revenue. The key is to make sure your navigation makes sense and is easily understandable, so users have to perform as few clicks as possible to get where they want to go.
4. Creating Unique & Digestible Content
No matter the algorithmic changes Google makes, it’s always essential to continue putting unique, digestible content into the world. Create content that’s easily consumed in a short amount of time, can easily be shared, and is readily repurposed so you get the most out of your efforts.
Need help getting your website Google-ready? Zero Gravity Marketing is here to help! Reach out to our team of pros, and let us guide you to a Googleable space online!