Why More User Experience And Less SEO
By Toby May
When we think about increasing our site traffic or boosting our conversion rates, we immediately consider optimizing our websites for search engines. While this works on many levels, it doesn’t really pay off as desired if you don’t look at the human factor as well. You need to think about how your site visitors respond to your page and what kind of experience they have when navigating it. This is because Google pays attention to user experience when ranking websites. So improving user experience is all a part of a good SEO strategy.
What is user experience?
Why user experience is important
Your SEO strategy won’t be so effective if you only focus on the search engines. According to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, it’s clear that the search engine prioritizes on creating a great user experience. The quality guidelines clearly state that manipulating search engines can negatively impact your search rankings as it misleads users. The basic principle is to create your pages for users and not for search engines. If we take a look at the Search Metrics 2015 Search Ranking Factors, we can see that most positive impact has been shown by factors that affect user experience. For instance, click through rate has the most significant impact among all. Other factors like time on site, bounce rate, Images, Video also affect your page ranking. Additionally, readability and uniqueness of content, load speed, and user engagement also have a significant impact on your page ranking. So you see that you need to focus on all these factors to improve overall user experience.
Factors affecting the user experience and how to improve them
As mentioned before, there are a number of factors that can determine whether or not users have a good experience on your site. Let’s look at the most important ones and find out how you can make improvements:
- Site speed – The speed at which your page loads can have a significant impact on user experience. A joint study conducted by Gomez.com and akamai.com revealed that users expect pages to load quickly and may end up abandoning the page completely if it’s too slow. As you can see in the chart below, page abandonment increases as the load time increases.
Improving your page speed may require you to completely redesign your site. You may need to remove certain elements that are unnecessary and are slowing down your page speed. As in the case of Smashing magazine, a few changes to your page design can decease your load time to a significant extent. The magazine was able to bring down its load time by 700millisecond with just a few changes such as deferring and caching web fonts.
- Choose the right colors – Colors have a big impact on the aesthetic appeal of your site so applying color psychology to your page design can improve user experience. You can choose your colors based on the audience you’re targeting. For instance, Kissmetrics found that blue and green was a favorite among both men and women while orange and brown were among their least favorite.
Big websites usually follow this rule correctly by choosing a color scheme to evoke the right feeling in their site visitors. Let’s take a look at the IBM website, for instance, which uses blue, gray, and white. These colors create a serious and professional impression, which represents the company well.
- Choose a responsive design – With 80% of internet users owning a smartphone, it’s only natural that websites cater to the needs of these users. However, 47% of users access the internet using a tablet and at least 37% using their games console. This means that instead of just focusing on a mobile-friendly design, you need to go for a responsive design. With this type of design, your website will adapt according to the device through which it’s been accessed.
The benefit of a responsive design for user experience can be clearly seen in the case of Cyber Duck. They made a number of changes to their website including optimizing images, which helped them cut back on file sizes by at least 50%. The overall result of all the changes they made was an 82% increase in traffic and an 18% increase in visit duration.
- Improve your call-to-action – It’s not enough to simply state the benefits and features of your product or service. Visitors need to know what you want them to do next. This is why it’s important to add a definite call-to-action on your pages. Giving clear directions to your visitors will not only improve their experience but also help you increase conversions
- Whether it’s changing the language used in your CTA button, changing the position of the button, or changing the color altogether; there are a number of ways you can improve your CTA button. Even just a change of one word can significantly improve user experience and conversions. This was the case for a B2B company, which changed its CTA copy from “order information” to “get information” and experienced a 38.26% increase in conversions.