When it comes to designing a website that meets the goals of your business, the experience your users have is critical to its long-term success.
Search engine optimization has traditionally focused on factors related to the structure of websites.
But as search engines evolve to provide higher quality content, the user experience is now more influential to your rankings than ever before.
Search Engines and User Experience
Search engines help users find information quickly in order to solve a problem, make a purchase, or gain additional knowledge and insight on a topic. The goal of all search engines is to meet those needs as best as they can.
Your business needs to keep its finger on the pulse of its users to understand how your website’s design is meeting those needs as well.
Google’s Panda update signaled a major shift in the ways that search engines work. It introduced the machine learning that made it possible to ranks sites as their human evaluators do.
This increasing the engine’s accuracy in determining how users would judge a website’s quality.
Therefore, the user experience of your site provides search engines with quality signals that have a real impact on the ranking of your site.
What Your Users Need
The first step in optimizing user experience is to understand that your users need specific information before taking action.
You must consider the ways in which users engage with your content. This engagement is fundamental to the perceived quality of your site.
The following are just some examples of the information users need before taking action:
- Details related to your products or services
- Pricing and delivery
- Information about your company and team
- How to contact your business
All of these contribute to the user experience, which influences your site’s rankings in the search engine results pages.
Optimizing the User Experience
In order to improve the user experience of your site, you need to consider the qualities that search engines value when ranking pages.
Websites must be easy to understand and use. Having too much (or the wrong) information confuses users and increases the bounce rates of your pages.
Your site must also provide the right information in relation to the search. This goes back to understanding their needs. The content must be relevant to their immediate search queries and it must be high in quality.
Finally, businesses can no longer ignore the rise of mobile in today’s market. Your site must be accessible to users across a wide range of devices and browsers in order to optimize the user experience.
The Engagement Factor
All of these factors influence how users engage with your sites. Search engines use this engagement when ranking sites in their results.
They measure the click rate and length of engagement to determine how successfully they have answered the user’s search query.
Sites that meet the above requirements generate a higher number of “long clicks”. This occurs when a user stays on your site for a longer period of time before exiting and returning to the search engine.
Optimizing the user experience leads to increased sharing and bookmarking of your site. It improves your link profile by generating more high-quality links for your business, and it increases return visits over time.
These factors all influence how search engines rank your sites and lead to greater long-term success for your business.
Taking the time to understand the needs of your users and improving the design of your site to meet those needs is essential to your SEO results.
How is your site’s user experience impacting your rankings? If you think your design may be limiting performance and rankings, or if you have additional insights on how to improve user experience, let us know in the comments below.