What gets under your skin whenever you land on a website? It must be those huge banners that block all content, requesting your email address before you even start reading. It could also be the obligation to remove your ad blocker before you can proceed to the content.
In these and similar instances, you immediately click out of the site, right? We all do. No one can blame you. Now, as a marketer or business owner, you realize just how critical user experience can be for the success of your business.
What is User Experience (UX?)
UX is a term used in design, including of apps, websites, products, and machines—pretty much everything that involves a human as the end-user. User experience refers to the quality of interaction the user gets with your website, app, or product. The goal for UX designers is to create pleasant, easy, exciting, and successful interactions for the user.
In a nutshell, UX on a website entails aspects such as:
- Branding and appearance
- Design and feel
- Usability and responsiveness
What Does User Experience mean for SEO?
User experience and Search Engine Optimization are peas in a pod. And because 2 in every 3 businesses rely on a website for customer interactions, you can expect that good or bad user experience will have a big say on your bottom line.
In the example in our introduction, you exited a site that requested your contacts before you could access their content. Customers can exit from your website too if you try their patience with ‘annoying’ ads, poor navigation, ‘mobile unfriendliness,’ or pages that take too long to load.
When users suddenly leave your site after landing on it, it’s termed as a high bounce rate in SEO. Search engines will get suspicious of the relevancy, freshness, and quality of your site. They will begin to doubt your ability to satisfy user’s queries and needs. If the high bounce rate continues, eventually, your organic search engine ranking will get revised downwards.
Other consequences of a bad user experience on SEO include:
- Tanked leads—eventually, bad UX leads to low SERPs ranking and limited inbound links
- Low conversion rates—dissatisfied users are hard to convert
- Bad reviews—exasperated users may leave bad ratings on your site or products
Good user experience, on the other hand, leads to all the desirable SEO metrics that most marketers dream about. These include longer user duration on site, repeated visits, high SERPs ranking, more inbound links, and higher conversion rates. An excellent user experience is the key to successful digital marketing. In the long run, it facilitates growth and expansion for your business.
Ways to Improve User Experience
Now that you understand just how critical user experience is, and how closely Google other search engines track it, shouldn’t you do something about it? There are many ways to improve the user experience. Some are as easy as placing your sign up forms and social media widgets in the right place. Others are involving and might need an overhaul of your entire site’s design.
i. User Journey Mapping
There is no room for guesswork when optimizing your website. That’s the plain truth. You have to get everything right from the word Go. Proper UX optimization, therefore, demands the tracking of the user journey and their behaviors on the site. This monitoring helps to reveal how users navigate your site, interact with your content, and fill your forms.
User journey visualization similarly allows you to see the amount of time users spend on your site, whether they come back and the pages they visit. You can follow your user’s journey using Google Analytics or similar SEO metrics tools. These tools reveal who your users are, their location, demographics, their intent, and behaviors when they visit your site.
With the information gathered, you will be able to identify aspects on your site that need improvement and how that can be done. For instance, to improve UX you might need to:
- Shorten sign up forms
- Improve site speed on desktop or mobile
- Shorten article length or provide more details
- Increase or minimize the use of video
ii. Usability Test
As hinted before, usability is one of the foundational pillars of user experience. The test is done to find out how easy a person can load, navigate, and interact with your website. A website with a poor UX will have low usability. It then discourages users from staying longer or coming back on your site. Search engines, in turn, lower your rankings when they catch a whiff of it.
During a usability test, you track and evaluate how people of average or low skill can use your product (in this case, your site) without much struggling. The test should be done on both desktop and mobile devices.
Usability tests on the website are used to measure and optimize UX before Murphy’s Law calls. Essential elements to be included in the survey are navigability, accessibility, readability, and speed, among many others. Your survey participants should not know that they are being tested on these things.
Because mobile devices live in their own realm, a desktop usability test is not enough. Find out how your site appears on a small screen and how easily users can access it, read it, navigate in it, or communicate through it.
Design is everything on a site. It births a user interface through which a person can then have a user experience. Design tricks to make your website more user friendly on both desktop and mobile include:
- Simplifying navigation
- Improving responsiveness
- Improving page speed
- Using the right colors
- Using photos and videos
vi. Have a clear CTA
The main objective behind your UX optimization efforts is to improve the conversion rates. That cannot happen without a clear CTA. Users can still bounce out of your sites regardless of your beautiful content and smooth navigation if there is no clear direction for the next step in their journey.
Make your CTA clear and easy to find. Statistics show that colorful and well-designed CTAs perform better than the regular type. An orange CTA, experts believe, can boost conversion by 32.5% while a CTA that’s been made to look like a button can increase click rates by 45%.
How to Measure User Experience
Tests and measurements are critical in any endeavor to improve user experience. Here are some of the ways to measure the UX on your site:
i. Feedback from customers
It’s all about the customers. Hear them when they speak or push them to say something when they do not. You can go about collecting user feedback by requesting for comments at the end of each of your pages. You can install a chatbot on your site so users can ask questions and find help in real-time.
You might also have to go through reviews left on your site or third-party review sites. User feedback reveals customers’ pain points when they are on your website and can provide direction on how to fix those issues.
ii. Check Google Analytics
As mentioned before, Google Analytics is a reliable source for metrics on user experience. The analytics tool tracks and records user behavior on your site. You can measure UX by looking at Google Analytics’ metrics, such as:
- Click-through rates
- Page load speed
- Time on site
- Bounce rate
For traffic-related UX metrics, go to Conversion, Goals then Overview to generate a full report on sessions, bounce rate, and conversions.
For user-behavior-related UX metrics, go to Analytics, Behavior then Behavior Flow to identify the exact scenarios causing the high bounce rates and click-through behaviors.
Heatmaps show how users navigate your site and where they spend most of their time. Tracking this UX metric can provide insights on how to improve and create an excellent experience throughout your site.
Several SEO tools have a heat map feature, or you can use the free version with Google Analytics’ Page Analytics.
iv. Test again
A one-time test for your user experience is not enough. It should be a continuous process after each alteration on your website. User needs are always changing, and your website’s branding, design, and usability should keep up with the dynamism.
The bottom line
User experience is a critical part of search engine optimization. An SEO strategy that doesn’t address UX is incomplete and poses a significant risk to your business’ growth objectives.
Updated: 4 January 2021