We’ve all been there – browsing the internet only to end up on the most frustrating of websites. Nothing seems to be in its logical place. You end up leaving the site irritated and annoyed, vowing to never return to that particular website ever again. That’s UX (or user experience) – in a nutshell, how easy it is to navigate a website. You need to think about how meaningful and relevant the content on the page is. Ensuring your website focuses on the experience each visitor has. This is because over the years Google has placed a higher priority on this as an organic ranking factor.
So let’s take a look at the key areas and what you can do to start giving your website users the best possible experience.
What is UX?
UX stands for User Experience and is all about the experience a user has with a product, or in the digital world, a website or app. We experience this every day, from the newly designed coffee cup at your favourite coffee shop to the laptop we use for work. Hopefully, enough care and attention have been put in place to ensure these work as we expect. Allowing us to achieve what we set out to effortlessly.
UX encompasses not only how usable your website is but also how much it excites the end user. For example, being aesthetically pleasing means you experience the site differently and should have a better experience vs. an entirely black and white site with no images.
You want users to have a great experience on your site and also convert from a visitor into a consumer. With poor UX you immediately make that conversion more challenging. Poor UX can be as simple as potential customers not being able to navigate through different areas of the site through breadcrumb links. The basket icon not including a small number to show the user how many items are included.
What influences a good user experience?
At Green Ginger, we believe in a customer-first approach to marketing, and UX is no different. You need to have a deep understanding of your customers. Knowing what is important to them, what they place value on and what their wants and needs are when visiting your website. Meeting those needs and wants is core to UX. Peter Morville shows this theory in an easy to understand User Experience Honeycomb.
The User Experience Honeycomb is comprised of 7 hexagons which help you to define priorities. It shows the requirement for a neat and unique balance of what your users need, the context they visit your site in and the content served. We explain the hexagons of the honeycomb below:
- Useful: Does the site focus on unique content and is it able to satisfy a need or requirement?
- Usable: How easy the site is to use?
- Desirable: How does the design (including brand identity, logo, images) evoke an emotion in the user?
- Findable: How easy it is to navigate and locate content?
- Accessible: How easy is the content accessed by those with disabilities?
- Credible: Do users trust in what you’re telling them?
- Valuable: How much value does the site add to its sponsors?
Why is User Experience important for SEO?
As you’re probably aware, Google is continuously changing. It uses algorithms focused on ensuring users are provided with the most relevant and best results, every time they search. (You can read more about SEO algorithms here). In 2015 Google introduced RankBrain which is a part of Google’s core algorithm which utilises machine learning. It uses this to serve ever more relevant results. It uses more than a basic algorithm, to focus on user intent (search queries) and behaviour metrics. Trying to figure out what a user means when they search and therefore what to serve them in the search engine results pages. Types of behaviour metrics RankBrain look at are:
- Organic Click-Through-Rate – the number of searchers who click on a website result, as a percentage of the total number of searches the website appeared for
- Dwell Time – the amount of time a visitor spends on a page
- Bounce Rate – the percentage of visitors who leave a site before taking any action
- Pogo-Sticking – clicking back and forth between Google and websites to find the right information
There is, of course, a fine balance between UX and SEO. You need to make sure that both strategies are aligned rather than working in isolation or favouring one area over another.
One key way to ensure these are aligned is by focusing on designs which fit core SEO principles. Create sites with clear navigation paths for UX, whilst optimising menu names, product names and descriptions in line with search behaviour. Optimise H1 and H2 titles and focus both eCommerce and blog content on information which excites and is useful for the user, whilst resonating with search engines too.
Some real practical things you can start planning to do today if you’re not already, are:
- A/B testing landing pages, using Google Analytics to understand which version drives the most engaged user
- Use an on onsite behavioural analytics tool such as HotJar to understand how users are navigating through your site, where they’ve been and which areas get the most attention
There is no denying that UX continues to be a focus from Google. Why wouldn’t you want to provide your customers with the most seamless experience you can? As always, there are lots that can be done to improve your website experience. Our recommendation would be to start using the advice above and build on this with a test-and-learn roadmap. You should test one thing at a time, that way you will know what tweaks and improvements are driving performance and also what impact that has had on your SEO visibility.
If you would like any help auditing the customer journey of your website or prioritising your UX roadmap, don’t hesitate to contact the team at Green Ginger today!