Customer experience isn’t a new concept for business. However, organisations sometimes underestimate just how important it is. Ever been to a website and not found what you’re looking for quickly enough? Maybe the menus are really confusing or you have to click through too many pages to get to where you want. Everything from first interaction through to conversion has to be made as enjoyable and easy as possible for the best performance. Otherwise consumers may get frustrated. This is an important part of providing good user experience, which in turn affects how search engines favour a website.
For instance, Google wants to deliver the best information to its users based on how it thinks people behave and what they want out of a website. This is why user experience is so important to meet SEO best practice. It ensures a website is intuitive, accessible and easy to use. Google is constantly working on recognising this, and with the incorporation of machine learning into its ranking signals, its progression to do so is about to rapidly accelerate. This is why no one can ignore UX any longer as part of an SEO campaign.
Common elements to improve both UX & SEO
Since the two have an influence on each other, let’s have a closer look at the common elements that help a website’s UX and SEO.
- Page layout – displaying information above the fold is really key, making information retrieval as quick as possible. Consider the placement of content, its style and design as well as a proper combination of textual and visual elements.
- High-quality content – vital for SEO and, of course, for your visitors. It is well known that Google penalises those sites with thin and duplicate content, so your site must ensure that it provides relevant, informative and engaging content. Otherwise, no one will have an incentive to stay and learn more.
- Intuitive navigation and breadcrumbs – help both search engines and consumers navigate your site in an easy and intuitive way. Breadcrumbs also let users know the path they took to get to the page they are visiting, and let them go back easily.
- Page speed – if your site takes longer than 2 or 3 seconds to load, users are likely to leave and try somewhere else with faster response. If your site takes longer than that, then your bounce rates are likely to increase exponentially, which will be reflected on your rankings in search results.
- HTML sitemaps – having an HTML sitemap will not only make your website easy to navigate for users, it will also help search engines crawl all content.
Test, test and test
To put it simply, analyse how your users browse your site and then test what works best.
A/B/n testing is great to test multiple variations of a webpage, compare them against each other, and determine which has the highest conversion rate. In this type of test, traffic and users are bucketed into different groups, and are served different variations of the page. From this, it is possible to see which variation performs best.
For instance, our UX team ran an A/B/n testing campaign for Rackspace. The test was focused on the site’s homepage to improve engagement and increase sales leads.
The test involved creating three new versions of the homepage (as shown below) to test against the default for six weeks. The traffic was split evenly between all variations shown below:
Sales homepage (best-performing variation)
The results were very positive – all the engagement metrics performed significantly better across all variations in comparison to the default:
- 26% uplift in site interaction per month
- 25% uplift in sales team chats per month
- 114% uplift in the Decision Engine (a tool to help users find the right product and a key lead generator) interactions per month
- Highest average time on site
- 17% improvement in bounce rate
The above example shows just how important analysis and testing can be to find out what visitors are responding to, and what keeps them on site.
The impact of running tests on your organic search performance?
Google has always been clear on this point: do what’s good for users, not algorithms. Make sure that consumers find what they are looking for and that it brings value. However, providing a good user experience is not enough, you also need to ensure that you provide the right content to users. You could have the most responsive, intuitive and beautiful website in the world, but if the content is lacking, it’s worth nothing. Educate your visitors, entertain them, give them a reason to stick around. Provide a clear journey for them to follow and make it easy for them to find what they want.
By running tests you can make sure you are providing the best possible user experience to not only increase conversions but also to boost rankings. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain, so get started!