User experience has faced a lot of debate over recent years in SEO circles, particularly concerning its relevance as a key ranking signal or factor.
With the rapid expansion of services like Spectrum internet and the growth of online consumer spending, most businesses understand the value of investing in SEO and getting their offerings more visibility in transactional queries. However, a lot of SEO is based on quantifiable metrics, such as page load speed, bounce rate, etc. Since UX is based on the subjectivity of each user’s individual experience and not a quantifiable metric, this has contributed strongly to the argument against it. Many believe that UX may not be as important a ranking signal in SEO terms as other more quantifiable signals. But is this strictly true? Read on to find out more.
Why UX is an Underrated Ranking Factor
In terms of immediate quantifiability, UX may not always be the easiest factor. But in many ways, it can be the ranking factor that matters the most. Your SEO team could work hard and succeed in getting you to the top of the Search Engine Results Page or SERP. But a poor user experience will make all that effort go to waste. Digital visitors demand and expect a smooth and high-quality browsing/scrolling experience. When they get anything less, they are liable to leave your page and move on to the next relevant result on SERP.
This is also what is known as bounce rate, which itself is a very quantifiable ranking factor. If your bounce rate is too high, it will hurt your SERP rankings and move you lower down the list of results. With just a few disgruntled visitors, weeks or months of SEO efforts could see a significant setback. A stronger focus on user experience or UX could influence the bounce rate and reduce it. But how can you improve your UX? Here are a few good places to start:
Add Value with High-Quality Content
Website content isn’t just there to make the webpage look less empty. In the digital world, content is king. Not just because it helps you gain more visibility in relevant searches. But also because well-researched and digestible content adds to the user experience as a whole. Content that is relevant to a user’s needs and adds value in the form of relevant information is exactly what nearly every website user is initially looking for. When visitors receive answers to queries or learn more information about exciting new deals, they are getting what they want. This can encourage many top-of-the-funnel visitors to convert into a more ideal prospect. So strong content can add to the overall user experience, which in turn adds to the conversion rates you’re already seeing.
Create Rich and Vibrant Designs
Many people associate user experience with design, and with good reason. Most web applications and devices rely heavily on visual contact. With a much greater focus on design elements such as emotive colors, engaging visuals, animations, and scrolling effects, it is possible to create fairly immersive browsing experiences that can help both your branding and UX impact. Of course, since it is not always possible to create the perfect experience on the first go, you may have to draw inferences from user data and behavior. But in many cases, a better UX-centered design will yield better results than clunky older versions.
Optimize Your Website for Mobile Users
It’s hard to believe this needs to be said in 2021, but you can’t sustainably rely solely on web browser traffic any longer. Thanks to modern smartphones and other mobile devices, people have more portable access to the internet than a laptop or desktop computer offers. That means you’re likely only seeing a small percentage of conversions (web visitors) compared to what you could actually be getting (mobile visitors). Unless, of course, your website is also optimized for mobile use.
Mobile optimization can be a bit tricky given all the different operating systems, browsing apps, screen sizes, and many other variables. But it yields benefits that dwarf the development costs, especially in terms of increased web traffic and conversions. Mobile compatibility is a significant contributor to seamless user experience and is now a separate ranking signal in its own right.