The user journey and experience of using a website or application should always be as pleasant as possible for the user; from start to finish, from entry point to purchase; both simple and intuitive.
In this blog post I’ll discuss the impact that a quality user experience design (UXD) has on search engine optimization (SEO) and your search rankings.
What is User Experience Design and Why Does it Matter?
The User Experience (UX) is the overall experience that a person has when using a website, application or computer – especially in terms of the ease of use. User Experience Design is the process of designing the website or application for the user, with the end result of enhancing the user satisfaction.
Undertaking usability testing can provide existing websites, or websites in any stage of design, with an in depth analysis on how users interact with their site, and how they can improve the design to increase users completing the ‘end goal’ – in many cases, this would be enquiring for services or making a purchase.
Why does UX affect SEO?
Google’s legacy of being the superlative and most popular search engine is based upon the relevance of its search results. Google is constantly improving the quality of their search results for users — after all, there are over 3.5 billion searches made per day! The algorithms are regularly tweaked and updated to rank the websites that we, as users, will find most relevant.
Google has even stated that their, “goal is to provide users with the most relevant results and a great user experience”.
Mobile device usage has increased significantly in the past several years and continues to do so. In order to get visitors to convert, your site must be able to meet their needs whether they’re using a phone or a tablet. And the single best way to optimize for mobile conversions is to optimize the user experience.
The Indirect Effect
According to a prominent Moz guide on the relationship between user experience and SEO, it helps to think of usability and user experience as strong influences on the success of search engine ranking, with factors such as keywords, links, and site structure weighing in as highly significant influences as well.
The guide states: “[UX] provides an indirect but measurable benefit to a site’s external popularity, which the engines can then interpret as a signal of higher quality. Crafting a thoughtful, empathetic UX helps ensure that visitors to your site perceive it positively, encouraging sharing, bookmarking, return visits and inbound links–all signals that trickle down to the search engines and contribute to high rankings.”
Simply put, a positive user experience provides an indirect (but consistent) benefit on where a website will ultimately rank. If users come to your website and browse through multiple pages, spend time reading your content and even come back again – then when Google takes these factors into account it could benefit the ranking of your website.
The websites that provide an excellent UX with quality & relevant content, innovative design with a clear, structured navigation, are the type that users will be returning to time and time again. We will remember the brand name and, subconsciously, we will have strong, affirmative emotions towards the nature of the site.
Increasing Conversions to Your Site
User Experience Design embraces the psychology of human emotions, which is why it is vital that your website incorporates an excellent user experience through creative elements, minimalism, consistency and even aspects such as using the right type of colors.
Google wants features such as font size to be large enough so mobile users don’t need to zoom in, with responsive writing blocks and spaced out links to create a mobile site that is easy to navigate.
Ensuring that everything on your site is perfectly clear will aid in the overall user experience. People prefer simplicity over complexity – always.
Everything should be easy to understand, with total elimination of technical jargon which will ensure that everything is clear to your user. The navigation bar on your website should essentially allow users to find everything they want on the website in the most efficient way possible.
Adhering to good UXD practices with your website will have a knock on effect on the SEO. More people are likely to stay on your site and share your content if they like it, and as a result: higher levels of engagement and increased traffic to the site.
By designing for the users’ experience, you will be automatically designing for increased conversions.
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