12 Feb Does UX affect your SEO?
When SEO was first pioneered it was considered very much a ‘black magic’ with little or no rules and how times have changed; initially how many times a particular word was mentioned on a page carried a significant amount of weight in the eyes of Google. Site structure was initially not considered (this changed quickly) and in the early days if your page background was white you could add white text with and repeat your keyword(s) in hidden sentences and Google would still read this – yes, this happened, it is not a myth. But, before you try it now in 2020 you can no longer do it and if you try you will be heavily penalised resulting in Google quickly de-ranking your website. The SEO landscape has changed drastically with Google now considering over 320 ranking factors when crawling an individual website. Google has made many advancements / adjustments over the years with a number of algorithm updates and changes anything from (but not limited to); Pigeon, Panda & Penguin to Hummingbird, Fred and of course the latest Bert.
If you look at all of these updates over the years you can see that whilst it may not be the core focus, Google are / have been making a shift towards User Experience (UX), and like search volumes and other information which agencies find useful, Google like to keep changes close to their chest (which is annoying and keeps SEO and agencies very much on their feet). Let’s start by looking at Penguin. This was mainly aimed at stopping poor quality backlinks and it is now about quality not quantity. Panda was about stopping sites with poor content from working their way up the rankings (sadly there are still some sites ranking today), this mixed with the sites now being indexed mobile first officially as of 2018 but in reality since 2016 it has caused some ruptions for rankings but, now we have BERT; Google said: “BERT helps better understand the nuances and context of words in searches and better match those queries with more relevant results. It is also used for featured snippets”.
All of these updates have had different core objectives but, all of them aim to give the user a better experience once landing on a website and, as Google continues to ensure the correct high quality content is being delivered to answer search queries. Google are looking at sites and looking at how users are navigating their way around the site and also asking; is this site delivering useful content which will solve the query of the user? As a result of both, Wriggle has been asked by both existing and prospective clients asking the question; does UX impact our SEO? The answer is, YES, it does! Wriggle anticipate that there will be an update within the next 18 months whereby Google starts to use this (UX) as a major ranking factor maybe unofficially at first and then officially, just like the mobile indexing. As a result of this we have given five simple tips below to help you improve the UX on your website:
Five ways to help you improve website UX
Mobile & Cross Device Testing:
Here at Wriggle, our development team without fail knows the paramount importance of cross testing all of the websites we build across a range of devices. Following on from this then like most agencies we take this a step further and within those devices we use a selection of different browsers, these could be (but not limited too); Internet Explorer (IE), Safari, Firefox and Google Chrome. Whilst ensuring your website is built mobile first and / or optimised for mobile may sound obvious, it is astounding the amount of companies which brush over this and wonder why conversion rates are low across mobile devices.
A statistic which may convince you to look more at your Google analytics account; a client of ours who operated in a B2C marketplace has a three figure revenue being generated from their website and had a device split of 50/50 mobile / desktop but 80% of their revenue was being generated via desktop. We implemented a six month plan where we took their mobile conversion rate from 1% to just under 2% – whilst this increase may not seem like much it has meant they have almost doubled their mobile sales within a six month period. They did not need any extra traffic, they merely needed to make small tweaks and adjustments to their site based on the data provided by heat mapping software and Google Analytics to convert the traffic which was already flowing through their website.
Think of your webpage as a newspaper. Within a newspaper you can quickly find an article and the article title, it is (normally) in BIG, bold writing. This is the same with a web page by adding headings more commonly known as <h> tags this allows the Google spiders and users to read your site with ease. These tags should tell the readers and search engines what the paragraphs / sections are about and show a logical hierarchy of the content.
If a website decides only to use one h1 tag — that lets Google and users know the primary focus of the page. H1’s are normally the first piece of content on a page, placed near the top. (you can also think of h1’s as the chapter title of a book). Adding keywords towards the front of a heading can also help with rankings.
Navigation & Site Structure:
Easy site navigation is essential. A little like mobile optimisation, it is astonishing how many clients (where we have not built the website) that we still have to explain the importance of site navigation and structure. Your structure and navigation is a roadmap to the users, a clear path and direction to where they may want to go next and it is the same for search engines too – let indexing be easy for the spiders.
A significant proportion of visitors will land on the homepage of the website, and therefore you need to consider how the user reacts to this and investigate how easy it is for them to go to the next step, while remembering you do not want information to be hidden away as generally speaking the less clicks the better. We are talking about looking at a few simple but core aspects; is it easy for your users to get back to the homepage? Is the menu clearly visible and does it display correctly? And, are your users where they need to be within three clicks from the homepage?
Users live and work in fast paced environments where they expect everything at the click of a button, at a moment’s notice and without encountering a slow and sluggish response. Your site needs to be fast or lightning fast even. Users will not wait around whilst content or images load, they will merely leave the website and go to a competitor’s website.
A stat released in late 2019 showed that if your page took longer than four seconds to load then you would lose over 25% of potential visitors and if it took longer than nine seconds then you would lose around 40%. The cost of high performing servers these days are relatively inexpensive. If your site is slow and users are therefore bouncing off the page then Google will recognise this and penalise your site.
Call to actions are commonly referred to as CTA’s and they are paramount on any website regardless of whether your site is an e-commerce site or a website selling a service. These CTA’s inform and push your users to go further into the website and learn more about your products and services, get in contact, enquire or actually finish their purchase and as a result your CTA’s should be appealing, well designed and striking. Do not underestimate how powerful CTA’s are and how important they are to a successful website.
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