May 28, 2019
The first impression of any website design matters a lot if your goal is to convert the users of your site into customers. Making your website easy to use can change your business tremendously. If you have experienced a website that took too long to load, had confusing structure, lacked the information you were looking for, or had to navigate through many complex pages to find what you were looking for, then you understand why your website should be designed with the objective of improving user experience.
The link between SEO and UX
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a process of making your website more discoverable by improving its visibility on a search engine results page (SERP) thus increasing traffic and sales. SEO is a traditional form of digital marketing that focuses on maximizing the number of your website users by ensuring your site ranks high in the SERPs. User experience design(UX), on the other hand, entails providing meaningful and relevant experiences to users.
User experience design was developed to eliminate the frustrations users feel while navigating through a website. UX requires your website to be friendly to your users. It focuses on the needs of your website users and makes their navigation through the site clear and simple. Improving UX is not only crucial to your site visitors but also to search engines, which is why SEO and the UX design provide better results when combined.
Importance of UX design on SEO
Failing to optimize your website for search engines is a huge mistake. A poor UX equals poor SEO and vice versa. Do not underestimate how UX can be of importance to SEO. You are assured of a big win in your organic rankings when you have a good UX design and effective SEO. This is because UX is an essential element used by search engines in ranking your site.
For instance, Sonia Bell, the CEO of smartpillwiki.com, a medical company, says, that “search engines such as Google tweaks its algorithms often to know how users respond to sites and understand their needs. This is what enables Google to deliver best information, mobile-friendly pages and quick searches. When determining how to rank your website, Google and other search engines take into consideration how well you have incorporated UX in your SEO practices.
You can’t postpone integrating UX to SEO anymore if you want to improve your site rankings on search engines results. Google uses a criterion in determining how high a page should rank in its search results. It looks at the relevance of the content you provide on your page to the search query and the number of your backlinks in other pages.”
However, Google gets smarter every day. It incorporated a machine-learning artificial intelligence system called RainBrain. This AI enables the search engine to take into consideration your page layout, dwell time, bounce rates and organic Call to Action (CTA) buttons in determining how to rank your website in their search results. These user engagement metrics are aimed at giving users an enjoyable experience.
You can improve user engagement metrics by creating a good UX design which in turn improves your SEO rankings. If the highest percentage of your site users exit your page immediately after entering to go back to search results, it is an indication that the Content of your site was not relevant to them. This has negative consequences to your rankings. However, it is a positive signal if your users spend a lot of time on your site and visitors keep coming back. Users are happy when they can easily navigate through your site and find relevant information.
The Role of UI/UX design in SEO
Here are 5 major elements of UX that improve user engagement metrics on a website and contribute to UX design becoming part and parcel of SEO :
1. UX design improves your page load speed
The speed at which users can access your page influences your SEO rankings. A good UX design ensures that a page loads in the shortest time possible. It is frustrating to wait for a page to open for more than 2 to 3 seconds. Users will leave your site and explore what they were looking for on another page that responds faster. A slow response increases your bounce rates and decreases your repeat visitors. Nobody likes a bad experience. When users abandon your page due to the loading speed, your SEO rankings will drop, leading to low conversion and retention rate.
2. UX Design makes your page layout friendly
The style and design of your page significantly influence your visitor’s reactions. If the information in your page is well displayed, easy to retrieve and contains both textual and visual elements, users will find your site easy to navigate. This user-friendliness is what enables search engines to easily discover your website and improve your ranking on search results.
To improve UX in your page, minimize the number of clicks between homepage and where your information is located. Use clear menu labels and CTA buttons. A confusing navigation menu will only make users leave your page before getting the information they were looking for. Your UX design should ensure that your menus are streamlined and not too complicated. It enables users to locate appropriate pages efficiently.
3. UX design improves your website responsiveness
If your web page cannot load on mobile devices, you are hurting your SEO rankings. Mobile users are increasing each day. A mobile responsive website improves the UX of your site visitors who depend on their smartphones to carry out searches. Google is giving mobile-friendly pages higher rankings in their search results. If your site frustrates mobile phone users forcing them to leave your site to look for more mobile-friendly sites, then you are hurting both your UX and SEO rankings. Optimizing your site to be more friendly to mobile device users should be your goal if you want to increase conversions and reduce bounce rates. Focus on making your content readable by using large fonts. Eliminate pop-ups and unnecessary fields that annoy your visitors. Ensure that it is easy to click on your CTA buttons and links.
4. UX design provides testing and monitoring tools
UX is all about giving your users a satisfying experience. A user-friendly website will rank high on any search engine. You can improve your UX by monitoring your site to observe what users are browsing, the problems they are experiencing and their opinions about your site. You can take the approach of testing multiple homepages on a website to figure out which design is more friendly to users and leads to high conversions. Moreover, you can host test campaigns either via email or physically to ask users how they experience your site, or if the site is easy to navigate, or if the content is relevant to them. Once you have determined what your potential users prefer, improve your page navigation or design, depending on their desires, then test how those changes impact your user engagement metrics and your Google ranking results.
5. Both UX design and SEO share common goals
UX design and SEO aim at giving site visitors the best impression when they enter your website, providing a positive perception of the page. They both aim at grabbing your users’ interest with relevant content when they first interact with your site. Both UX design and SEO focus on ways of driving more conversions and increasing profits and leads on your business website. To obtain high organic rankings, the two must work together. While SEO positions you on top of Google search results, UX plays the role of ensuring that the user clicks on the website and finds the information they are looking for faster.
UX design is a vital part of SEO that helps you understand what users are looking for, then leverages that information by providing them with solutions that fit their needs. With considerable and sophisticated changes in search engines over the past 10 years, providing user-friendly search results has become imperative to any website. Many search engines recommend that you integrate both UX and SEO to improve your site’s credibility and increase retention rates thus get higher in the rankings. If you want to gain more traffic and reduce bounce rates, you need to develop a website that is attractive and optimized for both users and search engines. Run tests often to ensure that you are providing your visitors with the best possible UX thus boosting your rankings.
Dylan Menders is a marketing consultant and small business owner.