Back in the day, all you had to do to rank well on Google was to use the right keywords. It didn’t matter how pretty, how effective, or how user-friendly your site was. It was simple and allowed bad content to come to the forefront of Google.
Over time, the algorithm has changed to provide searchers with a better overall experience. That means that they’ve made it more difficult for businesses to rank on the first page of Google. It is no longer enough to just use strategic keywords, although that does still play a small part. These days a strong strategic plan is required. You need fresh content, consistency, the right keywords, and to enhance your user experience just to name a few key elements.
Today we wanted to break down the most elusive of these, the user experience. Traditionally, most people wouldn’t consider this to be a factor, but in 2021 it’s a crucial piece of the SEO puzzle.
Google can’t ask people how easy it is to use your website. Instead, they do the next best thing: measure the behavior of their users. There are a number of metrics that Google tracks to understand the user experience of a website, including:
- Return visits
- Click-through rate (CTR)
- Dwell time
- Bounce Rate
- Time on site
While SEO is the art of attracting people to your site, to begin with, Usability is just as important. Usability is about people’s behavior after they arrive on your site. You want people to stay on your site, to interact with it, and to be converted to buyers. This is all done through website usability.
How well is your site laid out? Is it easy to navigate? Is it visually appealing? All of this plays into how long people remain on your site. The longer they stay and the more pages they interact with, the better you look to Google. Google actually takes into account these factors, mainly using them to calculate the bounce rate which is overall a part of how your SEO is measured. The lower your bounce rate, the better your website is performing.
Having a high bounce rate can mean three things:
- The quality of the page is low. There’s nothing inviting to engage with.
- Your audience doesn’t match the purpose of the page, meaning they’ll have no reason to engage.
- Visitors found the information that they were looking for and no longer need to be on your site.
The first two of these both play into the topic of website usability. Users want to find a visually appealing, functioning website. They also expect a website to load quickly without any hiccups. Google actually released statistics on this. Their research showed that the chance of a bounce increased by 32% when a page load time went from one to three seconds, and by 90% when the page load time went from one to five seconds. If a site takes up to 10 seconds to load, then the chance of a bounce increases to 123%.
Simple steps can be taken to increase your website’s usability. Optimizing your images, working on decreasing your load time, and making sure your website buttons and pages are all functional are all a great starting point. Even micro-changes can produce macro results when it comes to making your user experience better.
This simply means making sure everyone, even those with disabilities or impairments, are equally able to use your site. All users deserve to have equal access, without barriers. It can be easy to assume that your visitors can use a keyboard, mouse, or touchscreen to interact with content the way you do. This assumption can lead to an experience that works well for some and that results in serious challenges for others which will limit your SEO.
As you’re planning on elevating your user experience, user research is a key factor. As we mentioned before, Google is researching what their users are doing every time they are online. They know just how long they’re on a specific page if they’re intending to make a purchase, etc. While you may not have access to these same powerful tools, you still need to be applying user research.
This can be done in a multitude of ways. Sites like User Testing actually allows you to have a stranger go onto your website to judge the user experience. They tell you their first impressions, what makes them want to click onto another page, what they like, and most importantly what turns them away from your website.
Another powerful tool you can use is Google Analytics. It’s completely free and easy to use. The best part is, you can actually see the data Google is tracking when users come specifically to your website. You can see how long they spend on certain pages, where those users are coming from, etc. It’s a wonderful tool for understanding the vital signs of your website.
Really, there are so many great resources out there nowadays to help you discover how your website is doing. If you haven’t ever done this before, we recommend starting with Google Analytics. It is free, easy to use, and they even offer free classes on how to use it and to truly understand the data you’re seeing.
The importance of User Experience can’t be overstated for 2021. Google’s algorithm is taking this into account more than ever before. It’s truly time to overhaul your old SEO strategy and to make sure it includes this vital piece.
Was this article helpful to you? If you need help elevating your user experience contact us directly at https://fusiononemarketing.com/contact-us.