Chapter 7: SEO & User Experience (UX)
In our last chapter, we covered how rich results can improve search appearances and boost click-through rates. Now, let’s take a look at another important component of on-page SEO ー user experience (UX).
Every step, from doing the initial search with keywords, entering your website, browsing relevant information, or inquiring to making payments, affects how users perceive your website. Simply put, the user experience of a website refers to the user’s overall feeling when visiting the website
User Experience & SEO
You may be wondering what is the connection between user experience and SEO. As discussed in Chapter 1, we can no longer rely on Black Hat SEO like keyword stuffing and link schemes to improve web pages’ ranking. Google is constantly updating its algorithms, especially the 2015 artificial intelligence algorithm ー RankBrain, to provide the best user-centric search results. In other words, on top of having quality content, the website’s user experience is also an indispensable part of SEO.
Factors that Influence UX
1. Page Speed
Google announced in 2010 and 2018 that page speed is listed as a ranking factor for both desktop pages and mobile pages. A study published by Google in 2018 found that more than 50% of users on mobile devices will choose to leave the website if a web page’s loading time is more than 3 seconds, implying websites can lose potential customers with slow page speed.
2. Mobile Friendliness
As we previously mentioned, Google has been adopting mobile-first indexing since 2019. So, in order to acquire quality traffic and ideal rankings, we must ensure that our mobile pages can provide the best user experience. Some ways to do so include using responsive web designs and dynamic serving. You can also use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to find out how easy it is for users to browse a website on their mobile devices.
The navigation structure should be based on the principle of simplicity because an overly complex structure will prevent users from searching for more relevant information on the website and, at the same time, affect web spiders’ ability to crawl web pages. As a general rule, a website’s navigation structure should allow users to reach any web page with no more than three clicks. Adding breadcrumbs to web pages can also help users and search engines understand their current location within a website and easily reach the destination web page so as to improve the website’s usability and enhance the user experience.
Furthermore, Google introduced three core web vitals in May 2020:
1. Largest Contentful Paint，LCP: Google recommends that the main on-page content should be displayed to users within 2.5 seconds.
2. First Input Delay，FID: Browsers should respond to the user’s first interaction on the website, such as when clicking on a hyperlink or button, within 100 milliseconds.
3. Cumulative Layout Shift，CLS: Elements on a webpage shouldn’t shift more than 0.1 when users are interacting with the page.
Google announced that these factors will be included as crucial ranking factors as early as 2021. This means that user experience will play an even more important role in SEO.
Google looks at different user signals to determine whether a website is providing users with great user experience. These signals reflect user behaviors. The two most common user signals are bounce rates and average session duration.
1. Bounce Rate
Bounce rate reflects the percentage of users leaving your website after only viewing one page. It could be due to a variety of factors like failing to provide information that satisfies search intents, slow loading time or 404 pages.
2. Average Session Duration
This is the average time spent by users on a single web page. Longer session duration is typically a good indicator of user experience since users will only spend time on a page reading the relevant content and information when the overall experience is satisfactory.
One thing worth noting is that the user experience is not just about the bounce rate and average session duration. For instance, a reason for a high bounce rate can also be that users are able to quickly find the information or answers they need from the page without having to browse other pages. Therefore, we should take into account the nature of the website and various user signals to give us a full picture when analyzing the effectiveness of user experience optimization efforts.
We have already gone through the different components of on-page SEO. In our last chapter of the Ultimate Guide to SEO, we will be looking into factors that affect off-page SEO ー domain authority and link building. Have a question about SEO services? Contact us today!