SEO is intimately connected with user experience. It’s no secret that Google wants to provide its users with web pages that offer them a positive experience, web pages that provide them with the answers and solutions they were looking for in the first place.
But while many website owners understand that UX plays a role, they might underestimate just how important it is.
Many marketers are of the opinion that as long as they build links, they don’t have to be overly concerned about UX. Links are obviously a key part of SEO, but they are not the be-all and end-all. (And good UX will very often help to generate more links anyway.)
Here’s a look at why UX is so important for SEO along with the steps you can take to improve your own website.
What Good UX Does for SEO
According to Rand Fishkin of Moz, the biggest benefit good user experience has for SEO is the boost it gives to organic sharing. Seeing as most types of sharing have SEO benefits of some kind, this can lead to much faster growth.
Good UX also reduces the bounce rate. And while bounce rate in itself is not a ranking factor, a lower bounce rate means people are spending more time on your site engaging with the content and finding solutions.
A good user experience is especially important for mobile websites. A site that is not optimized for the mobile visitor will not even be featured in mobile search, and with Google’s mobile-first index coming into force soon, a bad mobile experience might also affect the ranking of your desktop version.
In short, Google cares about UX, and it will reward good UX in various ways. But good UX provides more than just SEO benefits: By providing the user with what they want, solving their problems fast, and making it easy for them to find and buy what you’re offering, you can increase conversions, boost trust, and get more repeat customers.
What You Can Do to Improve UX for SEO
So let’s look at some of the major factors involved. While UX optimization can be complex, you don’t need to be an expert to implement some simple changes. You just need to have an understanding of it.
There are many things you could change, but the following provides a good start to ensure that, once you’ve got visitors to land on your site, you keep them happy.
- Make It Clear What the Page Is About
As soon as a visitor arrives on your site from the search engine, make it clear to them where they are. That means telling the reader what the page is about.
Use the H1 tag to quickly explain exactly what the page provides. Visitors will look to the header before anything else, and they want to know that the page contains the information they are looking for. The H1 tag should make this clear.
Also, use other headings to break up the content. Visitors will often scan these headings, so use these to provide a clear overview of the content and make it clear you have the solution they are looking for.
- Deliver with Your Content
While the headers should clearly show visitors what the page contains when they scan over it, the content needs to deliver on that.
Once the visitor starts reading, they had better find what they are looking for.
That means content that is focused, compelling, and high-value. Make sure you also use links to send the visitor to other content on your site that will help them achieve their goal.
Also, you’ll want to make sure the title tag is relevant to the search query as well as the content on the page. Make the experience seamless so that you not only attract visitors from search but provide them with exactly what they want.
- Optimize for Speed
Speed is a big part of the user experience. You want your web pages to load quickly, which has long been a ranking factor. Slow pages send visitors away because people are not going to hang around for long, and this hurts your SEO.
There are many factors involved in speeding up your site, and Google’s PageSpeed Tools are a good place to start. Lean code, compressed images, and a faster web host are just a few of the possible solutions.
- Improve Navigation
Navigation is one of the key areas of UX. Visitors will often scan the navigation when they land on a page, so don’t hide what you offer.
Display your solutions clearly—you might provide more than one thing that they are looking for, and good navigation is essential if you want to lead them to the right place on your site.
- Make Sure It Looks Good
Your site should also look good. Don’t underestimate the importance of web design and development when it comes to improving the user experience. A professional and compelling design that makes the site easy and enjoyable to use is essential. The visitor should feel like they are on a site they can trust to provide them with the solutions they need.
Briefly, your site should also be mobile optimized. We won’t go into details here because most site owners now understand the importance of having a responsive website.
But just know that, if you do not provide a great experience on mobile, your site is going to suffer in both mobile and desktop search once Google’s mobile-first index comes into effect.
- Incorporate Calls to Action
If each page has a goal, you should use CTAs to tell the visitor what they should do. Ideally, when someone lands on one of your pages, this is the start of their journey. Even if they read your content, if they leave straight away, you’ve probably lost them.
Try to encourage them to take the next step, whether that’s incorporating a content upgrade in your blog post or encouraging them to check out your store.
You might want to include various CTAs. Web pages are not landing pages, after all, and visitors may have secondary goals, so provide CTAs for these as well.
- Consider All the Entry Points
UX designers often want to take a linear approach by focusing on the journey that starts at the home page. But many visitors won’t start at the home page, so you need to think beyond this.
Don’t just provide a great experience for visitors landing on the home page. Find out where your visitors are landing, and adapt your UX journey to focus on these other entry points.
UX Is Only Going to Become More Important
UX and SEO are strongly linked. You cannot focus on SEO without taking UX into account, and this is only going to get more pronounced over the coming years.
As search engines become more powerful and provide more relevant results, focus on improving your UX, and you’ll automatically be doing your SEO a favor