User experience (UX) may rightly be considered a secret passageway to highly successful search engine optimization (SEO). Keywords are no longer the be-all and end-all of algorithms. The factors that decide ranking in search results are algorithms, and they have been changing since the first search engines were launched in the 1990s. As search criteria have evolved, most factors that move a website up in ranking are associated in some way to UX, which is inclusive of usability. This is no accident, considering the professed purpose of search engines is to provide the best results and experiences to the benefit of users.
The Difference between Usability and UX
A common question is, “What is the difference between usability and user experience?” That’s a good question, actually, because the two are frequently confused. It’s also natural to talk about the two in connection with SEO because they are closely related.
What is website usability?
Usability has to do with how easy it is for visitors to perform tasks without frustration that leads to abandonment of the site. A top usability factor is navigation that makes it easy for a user to quickly determine how to perform desired tasks. A site should have minimal distractions and contact information that’s very easy to find.
What is user experience or UX?
User experience encompasses usability and includes design, system performance, accessibility, and marketing. UX is also the perception and response of a visitor as a result of using the website, software, or web application aka web app. The goal of user experience is to keep users satisfied so that they stay on the site long enough to log a conversion. UX has the end user in mind.
Usability, User Experience and SEO
There are approximately 200 algorithms or factors which decide a web page’s ranking position in search engine results. Still, usability and user experience emerge as being of utmost importance because of their level of impact on SEO. Some connecting of dots is involved, bringing the importance of UX clearly in focus. The following are some SEO signals of a quality website, and they all relate in some way to usability/UX:
- A site has a lot of transactional searches. When a user makes some form of transaction after clicking on a site, it boosts SEO. A transaction does not need to involve a payment; it can involve signing up for a newsletter or for emails about upcoming specials.
- A site has a good web link structure. The websites that gain the most quality links are themselves quality sites. Link analysis algorithms can provide advanced credibility and improved status on search engine results pages (SERPs).
- Engagement metrics are used to measure how users engage with a site. These are indicators of success or lack of it. When a user chooses a link in search results and then quickly chooses a different link, it is a sign of dissatisfaction with the first.
- Navigation searches in which a pre-determined destination is entered but the user doesn’t know the specific URL is a good sign. The search engines recognize when a user scrolls through results to find a particular page.
Usability should be a major focus of SEO. Eliminate every struggle a visitor may have on your website. The goal is to avoid a high bounce rate and instead encourage visitors to accomplish their desired tasks by making it easy. The following are some areas of usability that can count toward better SEO.
Design. The design of your website can provide a pleasant or a jarring experience for visitors. The font size should be large enough for users to read the information without having to make screen adjustments. The layout should provide a welcoming appearance that encourages exploration. Colors and contrasts should be comfortable for the eyes, as well. Poor design can result in pogo-sticking, which means users quickly bounce to a different link on the search results page.
Efficiency. A website’s efficiency can be measured by the time it takes a user to perform tasks, beginning when they open the first page. The maximum number of clicks it should take a user to get to the information they want is three. The process should be streamlined and concise, not confusing.
Memorability. The speed in which a visitor is able to re-establish proficiency on the site after not visiting for a period of time is the memorability factor. Intuitive design structure and making minimal changes will help ensure a high memorability score.
Visitor Proficiency. When visitors use your website, completing tasks should not be a start-stop process due to mistakes. For instance, a website may be laid out illogically so that people tend to put the wrong information in a box. Mistakes made by users are always flags that indicate usability needs improvement.
Tips for better UX
A good user experience includes above tips plus more. When speaking in terms of UX, it’s best to think in terms of the experience the user is having. These experiences lead to certain actions that communicate to the search engines whether or not a website ranks well in UX. The following are helpful tips for providing a good user experience:
- Easy-Peasy. If UX were narrowed down to one hyphenated word, it would be easy-peasy. A website should be the essence of simplicity. Make it easy to read the content and easy to navigate. Create a sense of comfort and simplicity that invites users to want to stay and visit again.
- Speediness. About half of all users expect to wait less than 2 seconds for a page to load. When this expectation isn’t met, bounce rate increases.
- Validity. It is not a good user experience if 404 errors pop up on a website. Users should end up where they want to go instead of clicking on dead-end links. Tools are available to help you locate and fix dysfunctional links on your website.
Tony M Ma Media Provides Good UX and Usability
Does your website measure up to expectations of users and search engines? Contact Tony M Ma Media today for high quality SEO services, such as a website marked by simplicity and a good UX.