So Google will tell you that User Experience, or UX, is the #1 SEO factor. In a sense that may be true, but it is vague and confusing to many who seek actionable advice on how to move up the rankings. So I wanted to break down UX to help people understand what all of that means.
In reality, UX is an all-encompassing factor that includes most search factors, which is why it is safe to say that it is the top factor when in actuality most studies show that links still have the most correlation with ranking. Naturally, you want visitors to your site to be able to find what they want as quickly as possible and not want to leave.
What Makes Up UX
So what are the main components of UX that you have control over and can take action to improve, and how is it measured? UX is every aspect of the user experience, so it includes but is not limited to the key pieces below. I have included the piece as well as a way it may be measured, though we all know Google measures things in many different ways.
How fast does your page load? Have you ever clicked on a site and sat there for what seemed like forever waiting for it to load? You eventually just leave. Our patience is shorter than ever for that kind of thing and a slow loading page is a bad user experience and will send people away.
How is it measured? You can measure load speed easily in your Google Analytics or in this site speed tool that Google offers, as well as many third-party tools. Often you can tell just by loading your page that you have an issue.
This one is a slam dunk. With more than half of searchers now using mobile devices, and that number growing, your site better be mobile friendly these days. It should be fairly clear if you aren’t. If your site requires a lot of pinching and/or has content that is very hard to read on a mobile device, or is very difficult to navigate, it is likely not mobile friendly.
How is it measured? If you don’t know for sure, the tool I linked to in the speed section will also tell you if you don’t meet mobile standards, but come on, you know.
When you land on a website after a search, you want to find your answer. Seems straightforward. As we see the length of the content is more important to search rankings, it is because we want a nice thorough answer to what the searcher is looking for. It isn’t just about being long to be long. It is just that typically a thorough answer is a better one. That being said, the content that is there should be clear and easy to navigate. I often use the word “digestible” with clients. For long chunks of content, make it easier to digest by breaking it up with images, bullets, and headings. Headings make it very clear to the visitor exactly where their key piece of information is if they aren’t looking for all of it. If you land on a page with the intent of finding the price and you see 4 big paragraphs, but one has a “Pricing” heading, you will go there. It makes sense.
How is it measured? This one may not be as directly measured. Google can see how long visitors spend on your site and site pages before returning to Google. They can also count how many characters and words are on your site pages. With semantic search, Google knows from all of the other sites, what words are on successful pages vs. those that are not. There is a lot that goes into measuring content success, but generally writing clear and concise content is important that best answers the “search concept” you may be trying to rank for.
Your site should be easy to get around. Your navigation should be obvious for users to find exactly what they need from you. If they are on your blog, but they want to look at a product, it should be very clear how to do that. Having a site search can help with this, but having a clearly organized and easy to understand site structure is important to a great user experience.
How is it measured? This one, like content, is a little fuzzier. Again, Google can measure how people interact with your site, and in many cases, it can be a function of how much time and the number of pages a visitor hits while interacting. Another measurement can be industry standards and comparing to other successful sites in terms of the number of internal links on a page and their size and location.
All of these things are important to your users staying on your site and actually buying what you sell, whether it is through your site, or by offline conversions. Making your site more user-friendly is a constant process. Processes like Conversion Rate Optimization can closely analyze small changes like wording or button placement and how it changes success rates, and is used a lot in the paid search world. These concepts, in slightly different ways are also important to SEO. Though you still need links to rank well, these other pieces of the UX puzzle, are also critical in search success. If you need help with your own site, please give us a call.