There are a few misconceptions when it comes to SEO, and one of the main ones is that SEO just involves link building and implementing the relevant keywords into the content and meta data. Yes, they are two very important tactics, but search engines look at a lot more than just those two things when ranking websites in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). There have been elements of user experience (otherwise known as UX) rolled out into SEO practices over the last few years, and agencies have started looking at things like these:
- Is your website secure, fast, and mobile friendly?
- Do you have content that engages users and makes them want to stay on your site?
- Does your websites load quickly, and is it easy for users to navigate?
The points above are all elements of user experience and are things that are considered by search engines like Google when determining whether or not your website should rank for your chosen phrases.
Why Is UX Important When It Comes To SEO?
We think that it is fair to say that Google has changed significantly over the last few years; the search engine is constantly updating its algorithms, to make sure that Google users are given the best possible results for whatever search they perform. Every single algorithm update that Google has made recently has been geared towards giving more user-focused and user-friendly results to searchers. There has been changes to the SERPs, such as the knowledge panel and rich snippets, and other updates that have proven just how important user experience has become to Google. Just look at RankBrain for further proof.
What Is RankBrain?
Google introduced RankBrain back in 2015, and it became obvious that it was the third most significant ranking factor in determining the SEO factor of your website, falling below links and content respectively. RankBrain is primarily driven by something called ‘behaviour metrics’, which includes bounce rate, pages per session, dwell time, and organic click through rate (sometimes called CTR). To put it simply, these metrics inform Google whether or not users of your website actually enjoys their experience.
If a user of your website visits time and time again, spends a good amount of time on it, and moves through the website easily, Google is told that you provide a good user experience and, in turn, your rankings will improve. However, if you provide a bad UX and someone leaves your website shortly after visiting it, it tells Google that you are not providing relevant information and can cause your rankings to drop significantly.
SEO and UX – Their Common Goals
SEO perfectly incorporates user experience because they share a few common goals; if you have been following the SEO industry for some time, you will understand that it has moved away from ranking for sole terms and wants to provide searches with information that answers their specific queries. This is the very starting point of when user experience and SEO come together; both of them share the end goal of assisting users in completing their tasks by providing them with the relevant information that they are looking for. Good SEO will lead a person to the content that they require via clever website design, and the user experience part answers their queries when a user ends up on a specific page on your website.
How SEO Influences User Experience
It can be quite important that you understand the common SEO and content practices that influence user experience, and they are:
- Headings and image tags are vital. This is because image tags provide details if the images do not load correctly, making sure that the user receives a very similar user experience regardless of whether there is an image or not.
- Having a mobile friendly website is crucial, as mobile takes up over 50% of the market share! Mobile searches actually completely overtook desktop in terms of global internet usage all the way back in 2016.
- Page speed also plays a major role, because no user wants to wait for what feels like eternity for a page to load. In fact, if your page takes even 2 seconds to load, you will more than likely lose that user forever.