How Usability and User Experience Impact SEO

user-experience-vs-designGoogle has made it loud and clear in recent years that their search engine is designed to give visitors the best possible experience. And with that, the search engine giant has begun to place a higher emphasis on usability and user experience (UX.)

Both your site’s usability and user experience can impact your SEO and how well you rank in search listings. By taking the time to understand and improve these site elements, you set yourself up for the best possible ranking in Google for your targeted keywords.

What is Usability

Usability measures how user-friendly a site’s interface is and looks at how easy it is or isn’t for users to perform basic tasks without getting confused lost. Ask yourself these questions to gauge your site’s usability:

  • Does my website give visitors all the features they need to effectively read and find information?
  • Is my site easy to navigate?
  • Are there too many distractions?
  • Is our contact information easy to find?
  • What design elements need improvements?

What Is User Experience

Commonly referred to as UX, a website’s user experience refers to how visitors perceive and ultimately respond to the site’s content, products or services. User experience is a term initially coined by researcher Dr. Donald Norman. Dr. Norman was among the first people, if not the very first individual, who was adamant about creating websites designed completely for the user.

Many make the mistake of confusing UX for usability, and while they are closely related in that usability can certainly impact UX, the two are separate. Factors that affect UX can include: design structure, accessibility, site performance, usability and even marketing plays a role.

How Both Affect SEO

The impact that usability and UX has on SEO is indirect, but at the same time its benefits are massive.

There is a strong connection between the two and its ability to increase conversions and traffic and through that more social shares and recommendations, all which can have a direct positive affect on search engine optimization.

A site that’s easy to navigate combined with a design and content meant for users should eventually have lower bounce rates, and bounce rate tells the search engines how much users are enjoying the experience.

Here are a few ways you can better monitor and improve your website’s UX and usability:

  • Leverage the power of heat maps to track visitor behavior. Heat maps help you identify areas on your site that need improvements, and they can also highlight your design strengths.
  • Make clear and concise posts. Getting off topic for the sake of more words or using too much “filler content” can inadvertently have a negative impact.
  • Measure and then optimize your website’s page loading speed. Slow loading pages leads to visitor abandonment and higher bounce rates.
  • Keep it simple. Don’t go too crazy with your design elements or colours. Keep the same simple user-friendly design throughout your entire website.
  • Place your most important information where the eye is naturally drawn to first. Every design is different, but a heat map will help immensely.

By now you should have a few golden ideas on ways to improve your website’s usability and user experience to reach your maximum SEO potential. If you’re unsure of where to start, feel free to contact us today.