Search Engine Optimisation has been around for a while now and has become the bread and butter of digital marketers. While the initial days of SEO were full of run of the mill ‘keyword stuffing’ period, the new-age algorithm updates from Google and Bing have changed the ball game altogether.
The focus has shifted to the consumer and his experience from an online engagement has taken centre stage. The reason behind this transformation is that merely embedding keywords in content was confusing for the search engines, which were giving higher rankings to low-quality websites and presenting skewed results.
To fix this problem, Google and Bing decided to come up with a plethora of algorithm updates which aim to rank those sites higher that offer a brilliant user experience. The ranking criteria cover many aspects of UX such as ease of navigation, quality of the content, level of engagement, mobile-friendliness, loading time, security etc. Naturally, UX design has become a vital ranking factor which cannot be ignored by the marketers.
Besides concentrating on keywords and backlinks, there is a need to optimise the site’s web design and UX. Since UX is a significant contributing factor in the determination of the user metrics, combining UX and SEO can help in formulating a winning association. Let our SEO professional at Netvision help you in solving this puzzle of how the UX design affects SEO.
The user experience aims to enhance the interaction of the users with a website and identify the problem areas such as elements that appear ambiguous to the viewers. An intuitive UX aids the users to quickly find the information they are looking for and arrests their attention which makes them spend more time on your site.
Therefore when your site gets more love from the audience, it automatically moves up the search engine rankings ladder. Thus user engagement metrics affect SEO, which is a by-product of the interaction of the users with the website’s interface. An optimised UX design using tools like Optimize 360 can tackle the problems effectively. Here is what needs to be done to gain the attention of your audience.
The site architecture is essential as it helps in the navigation process. It is not just relevant for the users but also the search engines which use it as a roadmap. The menu bar should be visible, and the homepage should be accessible from all pages with the same ease. The user should not be confused about how to go back to the home page or find a particular section.
The categories should be labelled, and there should be a search box available to offer a smooth browsing experience. Don’t try to play hide and seek with your customers by putting all your offerings under the services tab. Showcase your products by categorising them under various groupings with appropriate titles.
Let people find what they are looking for without feeling lost and going through a maze of irrelevant landing pages. Small business owners need to focus on this aspect as SEO is of paramount significance in generating business. The navigation link must always carry the keyword so that it leads the searcher to the correct information. The URL structure should be user-friendly as well to aid in the indexing of the web pages by the search engines.
Waiting for a page to load is considered to be a big turn off for users. According to Google, if the loading time goes up from 1 sec to 3 sec, the bounce rate increases by 32%. If the time further goes up to 5 sec, the bounce rate shoots to 90%. Thus the site needs to load quickly on both desktops and mobile phones.
In the age of Smartphones, if your website is not mobile-friendly, then you are losing out on a major chunk of the online traffic. More than 50% of the traffic is generated from mobile phones across the world.
The loading time, navigation, appearance, images – everything forms the user experience, and it should be responsive to the screen size. You can check for the various elements using Google’s mobile-friendly test tool.
Headings are the introduction of the topic you have elaborated on your web pages, and they are equally vital for the users as well as the search engine crawlers to understand the content. All the sections on the page must inform about the information given in the segment which must follow a systematic flow on the page (<h1>, <h2>, <h3>, <h4>, <h5>). There should be only one <h1> on a page which defines the main theme of the content. The rest can be used multiple times depending on the type of the matter. These headings can also have keywords to rank higher.
UX optimisation does not require one to be a technical wizard. The SEO executive needs to focus on meeting the needs of the users who are looking for specific information online. Its importance can be gauged from the fact that RankBrain, which is the third most important ranking factor for Google, notifies the search engine giant about the user-friendliness of a site by evaluating the clicks on the links, time spent on the site, movement from one page to another, and much more.
Let us discuss the user engagement metrics in detail to understand their effect on SEO.
Bounce rate is the percentage of users who navigate away from your website after only visiting one page. It means that they did not find anything interesting to go past the landing page. There are many reasons for a high bounce rate such as unattractive web design, irrelevant or low-quality content, increased loading time, confusing navigation etc.
Since Google and Bing consider bounce rate as a ranking factor, lowering it is the key to success. You can utilise the analytics reports to find out the root cause of the high bounce rate.
You can think about redesigning your site and changing the content, images, and colours. You can also add more call to action buttons and include internal links in the content so that people hop on to the next page smoothly.
Search engines lay emphasis on the amount of time the users are spending on each page of your site as it indicates the level of engagement. If the users are spending a lot of time on a page, it means that they find the content useful and interesting.
This makes the search engines believe that this page is most relevant for the given search query and thus they rank it higher. Therefore it makes sense to improve the content and make it as knowledgeable, unique and creative as possible.
In a nutshell, it can be confirmed that the UX design affects SEO. The SEO experts in Gold Coast need to blend the two elements and create a dynamic solution which enables the site to offer an outstanding experience to the users. An optimised UX will help in increasing your brand loyalty through retention of the users.