In the ever-changing evolution of SEO, the focus has finally come full circle – where it should have been from the beginning – with the user experience (UX) being mapped into the formula.
The marriage of UX and SEO means it’s a mutually beneficial union. Search engine results pages (SERPs) today use many factors. Quality content, engaging information, security, speed and mobile-friendly sites will rank high. All of these things should now gear towards making visitors want to stay and engage on your site. The common goal? Give users the best experience and they will want to stay, return and share their experience (and your product and services) with others. Take it from the Astros – that’s home run baseball, right there.
Provided below are some essentials that impact the UX and SEO experience.
Printed documents use headings to designate specific information and the headings of a web page easily enable search engine crawlers and visitors to parse your content. Designating paragraphs and sections should be done with headings <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, <h4>, <h5> and <h6> for both readers and search engines. They should show a logical hierarchy around your content. The h1 tag should be used one per page, like the chapter titles of a book. Headers h2-h6 should help layout and establish the remainder of the page, accordingly.
Site Structure and Navigation
Don’t let your site structure be the bad GPS that leads users – and search engines – to the edge of a cliff. Lots of users will not see your homepage first. Having an easy-to-navigate site is a serious requirement for users and search engine crawlers.
A long list of options, popups or dead ends are suicide to aiding users that might be interested in your site. Any deviations from this simple recipe can prove disastrous to a once interested customer. If your dropdowns or menus literally fill the entire screen, no one can read content hiding behind it. This is what is known as a poor user experience. Your users will leave and never look back.
The bonus to cleaning site structure and navigations is having sitelinks that appear on Google search results. This can lead to greater real estate on result pages and more clicks for you.
Google may deny that user signals like bounce rate or time on site direct ranking factors but actual studies say differently. The see-all/know-all hand of Google is watching – don’t get caught cheating on this one. Ensure your ducks are in a row for five-star reviews, posts on Google My Business that visitors click and that mobile devices can use the click-to-call feature to dial your company.
This long ranking factor of Google search now has bragging rights for mobile page speed (rather than desktop) that will soon be used for ranking. Quick loading speed and mobile experience will soon be the two pieces of bread that make a sandwich – necessary.
Don’t feel behind on the times. Even large businesses with huge IT and development budgets still have speed issues. Just something to keep in mind especially if you have a content-heavy site.
The Mobile Experience
Speed should already jump into your first thoughts about a mobile experience. Next, look, feel, navigation, text and images. In 2015, see-all/know-all Google releases a mobile-friendly update and SEO has taken note. Next year in 2018, there is rumored to be a mobile-first index release and your mobile site will be considered your main site – making it all the more crucial.
If you follow a formula that allows for smart and simple designs that follow the rules, it will go a long way to make Google happy – and your users, too!