It is commonly thought that SEO is just two main parts: making sure your website is keyword optimized for the phrases you want to rank for, and link/citation building. There is a third part that isn’t as talked about and that is a serious mistake, and that is UX or User Experience.
Why UX is important for SEO.
SEO’s main objective is to rank higher in SERPs (Search Engine Results Page). To do that, Google considers things like click-through rate, how long someone stays on the page, pages per session, and bounce rate. These are called behavior metrics, which are rated by Google’s RankBrain. RankBrain is considered the third most significant factor in determining the SEO value of your website, only falling below links and content.
Behavior metrics are the same type of metrics used to determine how well a site’s UX is. This is often where SEO and UX intersect and interact. Google is always seeking and tweaking to provide searchers with information that answers their queries. Because of this UX and SEO are like a cycle and one really cannot effectively do their job without the other. SEO will lead a person to the content they need, and the UX answers their queries once a user ends up on the webpage. It will be extra hard for Google to rank your site if visitors do not want to stay on the page. By the same respects, the UX design does not matter if there are no visitors to the website because Google is not ranking the site for the needed keywords and phrases.
How to improve your Behavior Metrics.
For your website’s sake, you need to align your UX and SEO strategies together to make a cohesive plan. The best way to do that is to look at how to improve your behavior metrics for your website.
UX means User Experience, and your site’s visitors are going to have little too bad UX if your site takes forever to load. This will be included in your bounce rate and time on page metrics. If your site takes over 3 seconds to load, something on the site needs to be changed or optimized. This also means that not just the first part of your site needs to load fast, but every critical part of your site loads as fast as possible.
Roughly half of all internet traffic to a website comes from a mobile device. That means your website design needs to be mobile-friendly. In 2015, Google started rolling out an update many dubbed Mobilegeddon. In this roll-out, they went to a mobile-first indexing, meaning Google predominantly uses the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking. This was now almost 5 YEARS AGO! And yet I am blown away by how many companies do not put their mobile design first, even in 2020. If someone enters your website via mobile phone and it is difficult to read, some of the buttons don’t work, and/or it is slow to load, you simply will not reach one of the top spots on Google.
Easy to understand Navigation.
Pages per session is also a behavior metric. If your site’s navigation is hard to understand and it is hard to find information the viewer is looking for, your viewer will stay on the site less and there will be less interaction on the site. Your homepage should feature clear and easy navigation. Users of your website should be able to use your website intuitively. Don’t make your viewer search and think about where they should go or what the next step should be.
Mind your Button Text.
One thing to keep in mind is that buttons are essentially internal links (as well as some external) So the text you use for the button is important SEO wise. “Click Here” does not really do the site SEO justice.
Image Considerations and using Alt-Text.
Images have a huge role to play in UX design. Yet the image needs to match and compliment the copy well enough to use a key element in SEO correctly, ALT Tags. Alternative text attributes are meant for you to describe what the image shows. Alt text should be shorter than 125 characters, so you want your alt tags to be descriptive but in a concise way.
Use your Headings.
Both users and Google use headings to bring some sense of organization to the page. H1 headers are our top-level headers. Now, you will hear some experts saying H1’s are not that important in SEO. This is false. H1’s give a sense of what the page is about both to viewers and to Google. So, having more than 1 will be a bit confusing. Make the H1 broad enough to describe the whole page, then develop from there.
So, when you zoom out and look at this from a 10,000 ft. level, SEO and UX design go hand in hand. If you are trying to improve a website’s SEO, it is important to look at the site from a user’s perspective or UX perspective as it were. Google, after all, is looking for sites that will give users the best results and the best experience.