by Matt Pezzimenti
April 15, 2020 • 4 min read
As search engine algorithms continue to evolve, user engagement is playing a greater role than ever in determining rankings.
This is why UX and SEO are inextricably linked. To see strong organic results, it’s essential to engage your audience positively. Every user that bounces sends a signal to Google that your site’s UX isn’t up to scratch, and if these signals build up over time, your ranking will drop.
In this article, we’ve collaborated with digital marketing agency Search Factory to explain why UX and SEO go hand in hand – and how understanding both can lead to success for your business.
User Experience and Engagement
Users and search engine crawlers don’t enter your site with a compass. They don’t even have the same starting point. So how can you make them want to stay and direct them to the valuable content they’re looking for?
Well, your website will need to be:
Make Your Site Appealing
While effective SEO makes your website discoverable, the high-quality user experience will make users want to stay. Attention needs to be snapped up, and a visually concise and aesthetic site will achieve that.
An appealing page also gives you a more desirable and credible voice, whether you choose to use pictures, animations or an attractive layout.
But it’s not all about the looks. A page that takes too long to load is unwelcoming and frustrating for users. In fact, they’ll be likely to leave and look for content elsewhere if it takes too long, which is why site speed is a crucial element of UX.
Make Your Site Navigable
Clear navigation encompasses a wide range of responsibilities. Users need to be able to explore your site efficiently and each page should lead them to the content they’re after. If it’s too difficult, search engine crawlers won’t be able to follow your content and users will likely give up and look elsewhere.
As soon as a user enters your website (no matter where they enter from) they’ll need to see simple road signs and clear roads. Easy navigation includes:
- An evident navigation bar
- No immediate pop-ups
- Functional tabs
- Content headings
Your website layout is a personal guide for individual users. If your directions are easy to follow, then they can easily engage with the content.
Make Your Site Rewarding
It’s one thing to tell a search engine you have the content a user is looking for, but it’s another to provide it in a way that rewards the user. Having valuable content is the final piece of the engagement puzzle that will motivate users to interact with and link to your site.
Just like how someone would only start digging if they believed there was treasure beneath them, users will only engage with your site if they believe it has value.
How Does UX Affect SEO Ranking?
Search engines, and Google especially, are getting better at measuring user engagement and working out if your pages are appealing, navigable and rewarding. They pay attention to bounce rates, time spent on your site and who is linking to your content – increasing or decreasing your ranking relatively.
In the past, SEO has treated search engines as mechanical algorithms that are hungry for keywords and general functionality. But it’s becoming more evident that SEO should consider them being more human and ensure the outstanding user experience is being provided for them (and users) to enjoy.