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UX is part of the job

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Search engine optimizers can get so caught up in the minutiae of their job that they forget the main purpose of their website.

It’s not about manipulating algorithms to make you appear higher on the search results page. It’s about providing information to real, living humans.

And it comes down to creating quality experiences.

This is simple logic. When visitors become confused or frustrated with your site, they leave before they can make a purchase, fill out a form, or read an article.

For that reason alone, UX should be important to search optimizers.

But that’s not all.

A good user experience is reflected in the ranking.

Read on to learn how.

What exactly are SEO and UX?

If you’re reading this, you probably know a little bit about search engine optimization (SEO).

Simply put, it’s the process of getting a web page to rank higher in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) for relevant queries and increase traffic.

We focus only on free or organic traffic, not paid advertising.

Another important term that you may not be very familiar with is user experience (UX). This refers to the user experience when using the website.

Is it easy to use or confusing?

Is it aesthetically pleasing or visually cluttered?

Is it efficient or clunky and slow?

Can you easily give people the information they want, or do you have to dig deeper?

The answers to these and similar questions make good or bad UX.

But what does UX have to do with SEO? As an SEO professional, is there anything I should consider?

Yes: SEO and UX are interrelated features and are inexorably intertwined.

It could even be argued that every fulfilled search is UX at work where expectations for results interact with reality.

To do well with SEO, you also need to incorporate a UX mindset.

How does UX affect SEO?

At the most basic level, Google is only trying to do one thing. It’s all about giving searchers the best answers to their queries.

To do this, the search engine giant is constantly trial and error, developing smarter, more accurate algorithms that better understand user intent, context, and a myriad of other signals to improve search results. I am trying to create

Several algorithm updates, including Panda in 2011, Penguin in 2012, Hummingbird in 2013, and RankBrain in 2015, include increasingly complex means of evaluating page value and user experience. It was

This experience score is taken into account along with other more “traditional” SEO factors such as backlinks and keywords to determine overall ranking.

Say it again to the person behind you. The UX score will factor into his overall SEO ranking.

Google is becoming more and more user-focused, using machine learning, natural language processing, artificial intelligence, and other new technologies to determine which web pages provide the best response to a search. increase.

And they are all part of UX.

What UX factors does Google care about most?

All right, I made sure they were connected.

Let’s take a look at the overlap between UX and SEO and how they affect SERP positioning.

page experience

In May 2020, Google released Core Web Vitals to help site owners measure page experience.

Definitely one that will continue to evolve and included three focal points with corresponding metrics.

  • Read speed: The amount of time it takes the page to load the largest content element.
  • Interactivity: The time it takes for the site to respond to your input.
  • Visual stability: How the screen is affected by motion.

Page load time has long been part of technical SEO. That aspect of the user experience has trackable metrics from Google. Aim for 2.5 seconds or less.

Input lag is another factor that can cause a negative experience. After the user clicks an element on the page, don’t wait for the page to respond.

Visual stability can cause real problems for users, especially when input buttons are repositioned.

navigation

Navigation is important to your website experience. It applies to both users and search engines.

Even without an XML sitemap, you can help Google crawlers reach all your pages by providing a great navigation experience.

Breadcrumbs help users understand where they are in the structure of your website and help them navigate back to previous pages.

Make sure users or crawlers can follow links to all pages.

Make links easier to understand and organize your website by grouping related pages into categories.

Learn more about navigation improvements here.

mobile responsiveness

In Q4 2021, mobile traffic accounted for 54.4% of all internet traffic.

So if you don’t have a mobile-friendly site, you could be missing out on more than half of all web users.

Of course, Google knows this too.

Back in November 2016, recognizing the wind was blowing when it came to smartphones and other mobile devices, search engines began mobile indexing.

By March 2021, we were using our mobile site first when determining rankings.

This means that mobile sites are more important than desktop sites.

If Google spiders crawl your website and find that your website lacks mobile responsiveness, performance, or user experience, it will be taken into account when determining your Quality Score.

If you’re not sure how your site will perform for mobile users, the Mobile Usability Report can help.

interstitial ads

Over time, pop-up ads went from opening in a separate window to appearing on the page. And these pop-ups that appear between the user and her web page that the user is interested in are known as interstitials.

Websites tend to like them because they provide opportunities for interaction and focus the user’s attention.

On the other hand, many users find it only slightly more annoying than the old-fashioned popup.

By moving from penalizing all interstitial ads in 2017 to a more subtle position that allows webmasters to use these ads while minimizing searcher irritation. , have seen it from both sides.

However, so-called “intrusive interstitial ads” detract from the user experience.

These include popups that cover the main content, standalone ads that must be closed to access the content, and layouts where the “above the fold” content looks like an interstitial of the content below. .

Note that there are some required interstitials, such as the user consent popup.

Site security

There is a lot of information available online.

It’s not just the “5 Interesting Facts About Cats” article sent to you by your grandma. It also contains personal information, credit her card number and other personal information.

As technology becomes more sophisticated, so do the opportunities for bad actors.

The importance of cyber security cannot be overemphasized. That’s why Google includes site safety in its ranking.

Sites with data secured via SSL certificates and HTTPS domains are considered safer for users than regular HTTP sites.

You may not realize that securing your site will immediately boost your SERP rankings, but there’s a much more important reason to do so. A data breach has serious consequences.

For example, if malware infects your site, it might even drop completely.

The SEO aspect of site security is obvious, but what does this have to do with UX?

Simple. UX is more than just a site that looks good and is easy to use. That’s also how the site works, with cybersecurity being the main focus.

And of course, people don’t stay on sites they feel are unsafe, leading to shorter visit times and lower user experience scores.

UX best practices

Now that we’ve covered how user experience factors affect SEO rankings, let’s talk about UX best practices that also help with search rankings.

Keep It Simple, Search Engine Optimizer (KISSEO)

UX design should be intuitive and easy to navigate. Help users find what they’re looking for in as few clicks as possible.

Take a mobile-first approach

Because more people use mobile devices than desktops to search the web, your site should be designed primarily for mobile devices.

Instead of neglecting your desktop site, focus on responsiveness to ensure a great experience and better rankings.

Speeding up

No one waits for a site that takes forever to load.

Regularly test your page speed to ensure there are no lags and fix issues such as unnecessary scripts, unoptimized images and redirects.

keep a clear structure

Page layouts should be user-friendly and display relevant information (such as what users are searching for) prominently.

A header hierarchy makes your content easier to scan and helps web crawlers better understand the content of your page.

Use language your audience responds to

Every industry, hobby or organization has its own vocabulary.

But beyond vocabulary, the rise of voice search makes using natural language in text more important than ever.

stick to it

UX best practices, like SEO approaches, are constantly evolving.

Please understand that this is an ongoing process and what works now may not work in the future.

Wait – what about SEO and UI?

We’ve blurred the lines between UX and UI (user interface) a bit, but they’re not the same.

UX refers to the entire user interaction with a website, while UI includes screens, buttons, icons, and other visual aspects of the site.

In other words, the UI is the aesthetic part of your site.

The link between SEO and UI is looser than between SEO and UX, but there is a relationship.

At the very least, an effective UI helps prevent users from abandoning your site.

UX and SEO myths

There is a lot of misinformation out there about the impact of UX on SEO.

Let’s look at some of these.

bounce rate

Internet users are fickle.

Users leave your page for a variety of reasons.

UX issues are one reason. However, it is also possible that you simply misclicked.

Or maybe you landed looking for something specific and found it. Good UX! If they then leave without interacting, punishing you for it is silly.

So does a high bounce rate necessarily indicate a bad user experience?

No.

Will it affect my ranking?

No.

Google is very clear about this: bounce rate is Not reflected in rankings.

Bounce rate becomes more useful in GA4. engagement rateThe added time element makes it more useful, but the exit page could be even more informative.

pogo sticking

Pogo sticking (fast back and forth between web pages and search results) is often said to be a bad omen.

but, Google’s John Mueller states that this is not a signal to search engines about site quality. There are many other reasons, unrelated to UX, that make users pogostic.

everything needs an image

Some say that every web page should have an image no matter what, even if it’s a stock photo that looks completely out of place. They say this splits up the text and gives search engine spiders more information.

that’s wrong.

Using images is good, but low-quality or irrelevant images don’t help your UX and SEO efforts as much as they organize your information clearly. Too many images or images that are too large can increase load times and negatively impact UX.

UX and SEO should complement each other

At this point, it should be clear how UX and SEO work together to create a positive experience for both users and search engines.

Users are the heart of both disciplines, and they can accomplish more together than they can in isolation.

Remember: Your website exists for real, live humans on the other side, not bots sent by search engines.

Improve their experience and your SERP ranking will follow suit.

5 Key Areas Where UX Impacts SEO

Here’s a cheat sheet of five important UX factors that impact your SEO. I recommend at least checking the accessibility part.

  • Accessibility:
  • Site navigation and page layout:
  • Page load speed:
  • Responsive/mobile-first design:
  • Cyber ​​security:

Featured Image: Chaosamran_Studio/Shutterstock



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