When talking SEO, most people immediately think about keywords, content… perhaps links? While they are certainly all highly relevant, one equally as important element of SEO that can sometimes go unmentioned is user experience, or “UX”. Basically, search engines are not able to digest text, pictures and videos on a website in the same way as humans, and thus search engines evaluate a user’s experience on a website is to help understand how people interact with a website, in order to then rank its quality.
For example: if you open a website and then immediately click the back button… search engines can justifiably assume this particular website didn’t answer your search query effectively.
Difference Between Mobile and Desktop UX
Last year, Google’s Gary Illyes explained that while user experience is a direct ranking signal for mobile search, there is no UX algorithm for desktop search… however; that’s not to say its not an indirect ranking factor!
Mobile UX = Direct Ranking Factor
Google’s April 2015 mobile friendly update focussed on evaluating how web pages rendered on mobile devices, underlining the importance for websites to become compatible with smart phones and tablets in order to rank for mobile searches. The mobile friendly update is therefore all about user experience – concerned with how easy it is to navigate and operate a web page from a mobile device, indicating user experience a direct ranking factor to the mobile friendly algorithm.
Desktop UX = Indirect Ranking Factor
While there may not be a user experience algorithm to rank desktop search, user experience is definitely an indirect ranking factor, as it provides measurable analysis of a sites usability and popularity, which search engines can use to interpret quality. Creating a ‘good’ user experience on your website encourages low bounce rates, increased traffic, encourages sharing, bookmarking, return visitors, inbound linking… all signals that trickle down to the search engines and contribute to high rankings.
So how can you tell if your website is up to scratch?
The good thing about ‘user experience’ is you can quite easily test it… just get an unbiased third party to sit down and test their user experience on your site… Rather than asking your Mum who may or may not be an expert on online practices, why not seek professional user experience testing from the experts at Webfirm – we can test your website, and provide advice and assistance on necessary improvements.
What you should test on Mobile user experience…
With Google confirming last year that we’ve passed the tipping point for mobile searches over desktop, it is vitally important to have a responsive website that adjust to mobile-friendliness. For example, if users have to constantly pinch or zoom to read content or click links… they’re probably not having a good user experience…
Key testing points:
- Does the user find it the design responsive/mobile-friendly…? If not, learn more about understanding and implementing responsive design HERE.
- Are the navigation and links big enough to easily press with fingers or thumb?
- Does the user find it fast to load…? Anything over 4 seconds can be seriously detrimental to conversion rates (Every second counts!)
What you should test on Desktop user experience…
Desktop searchers generally have a little more patience, as they are less likely to be on the move whilst operating a desktop. However, with most modern day users being quite internet-savvy, they also expect a lot from their user experience…
Key testing points:
- Can the user navigate from the home page, to any other particular page on the website, and back again, with ease?
- Can the user easily find contact or location information on the website?
- Does the reader feel comfortable with your web design? – The Internet has been around long enough for people to have developed a ‘norm’ for how a website should look… and stepping too far out of these parameters can be detrimental to user experience. Learn more about how we traditionally read websites HERE
- Does your user trust your company based off their first impressions of the home page? – Tying in to the above point about familiarity and comfort. Semiotics in web design deserves respect!
- Does your website have any special features? If so, are they all easy to operate? – g. calculators, converters, and interactive features…
Search engines are putting more and more emphasis on, and becoming more advanced in calculating the quality of a user’s experience whilst on a website. Whether affecting search rankings directly (as with mobile) or indirectly (as with desktop), a deliberate, thoughtful and empathetic approach to user experience when developing your website is going to drastically improve your rankings, and of course your general user’s experience, which can only lead to higher conversions.
For assistance in testing the user experience of your website, help in developing a better user experience, or further information on this important element of SEO, please don’t hesitate to contact Webfirm today!