Why Is User Experience One of the Most Important Things for Ranking?

Over the last years, UX or user experience design has become a vital part of product development. It’s a process of building products that provide users with what they are looking for quickly, easily, and via comfortable interactions. The research stage of UX design discovers a value proposition of a product and ways it can connect to what the user expects from it. UX researchers learn how people use interfaces, how to properly structure content and make user journeys simple, efficient, and satisfying.

User experience design agency knows how to put themselves in the user’s shoes and remove obstacles that stay in the way between users and what they want. UX research results in a good UX — and good UX is a competitive advantage: it attracts people and drives conversions. Due to all of that, UX is extremely important for search ranking.

The reason is simple: if your website has good UX, lots of users visit it — so a search engine pulls your website up in ranks because it “knows” it satisfies a user’s query better than others.

Here are the main aspects that affect the ranking of the website and depend on UX design:

  1. Easy-to-understand navigation on the website;
  2. Internal linking, quality, and structure of the content;
  3. A quick load speed of a website;
  4. Mobile-first design approach.

Let’s talk more about how Google’s SERP — Search Engine Results Page is generated, how SEO and UX metrics overlap, and what you can do to improve your search ranking via improving UX.

What UX Factors Impact SERP

Here are factors that SERP takes into account while generating a response to your googling:

  • Site speed;
  • Website’s mobile version experience;
  • Backlinks;
  • Internal links;
  • Keywords;
  • Metadata;
  • Image alt-text;
  • URL structure;
  • Quality of content.

You can see that these factors are tied to UX: loading speed, the responsiveness of the website’s mobile version, and content quality.

Apart from that, last June, Google released Core Web Vitals, KPIs that can help software developers get how users are interacting with websites by showing them the analysis of their real-world experiences on this or that resource. With them, Google tracks:

LCP — measures loading speed of the main content on the website (Largest Contentful Paint.) The main content is considered to be content on users’ current screen: what they immediately see when they go on the website. You should keep that metric within 2.5 seconds: it includes images on the page, including background images, video posters, and text within the block.

FID — measures the interval between the user’s first contact with a page (clicking a menu button) to the browser’s response to this interaction (First Input Delay). Super Important for navigation, CTA buttons, pop-ups, etc. Aim to reduce FID to less than 100 ms.

CLS — measures how stable are shifts of layouts; checks if they aren’t disrupting what user is doing on the website (Cumulative Layout Shift). Do you know this terrible moment when you scroll down the website and the blocks you’ve scrolled down to are kind of above what you’ve been reading before? That’s what this metric is about. CLS should be below 0.1.

As you can see, new metrics also describe classic SERP-impacting factors: and all of them are about whether users are comfortable using the website.

How Can You Measure User Experience?

Now, let’s move to UX-focused metrics that can be combined with the metric above; start with these three:

  • Task success rate represents the ratio between users who visited your page and users who managed to do what they wanted on your website in a specific amount of time: withdraw cash, book an appointment, read an article, find customer support’s contact. The higher the rate, the better.
  • Conversion rate is one of your main sales metrics: a number of converted visitors to a total number of visitors within a certain period.
  • Bounce rate/drop-off rate is a metric that shows how many users leave your website after visiting it. If this rate is big, you might need to do something.

There are other metrics for deeper analysis of customer engagement: for instance, user lifetime value (LTV) that describes every interaction a user had with your brand and aims to measure retention; or net promoter score (NPS) that describes how likely it is for customers to talk about the experience they had with your product to their friends, on social media, etc.

These are high-level metrics: they are indicators of user experience, and they, too, impact ranking—if users are resharing your content, it goes up in search ranks, too. But to get there, you need to start with the basics.

Things You Can Do To Improve UX

So, when it comes to analyzing all the UX data, you can choose one of two ways: analyze it and apply the insights yourself or hire a UX design agency. If you’re choosing the first way, there are two main things to fix up first.

Check Site Speed and Improve

Check out Google’s metrics and DOM Content Loaded (DCL) event tracker — it shows how fast an HTML code file was loaded, parsed, and is ready to be displayed. If these indicators are too high and your website is slow,

  • try optimizing multimedia files on the page;
  • make CSS and JavaScript elements load asynchronously when they’re displayed, not all at once;
  • consider choosing another DNS provider and/or hosting service; etc.

Remember: you can lose 7% of conversions because of just 1 second of delay.

When checking website speed, don’t forget to test from emulators of different locations/networks. 4G is often slower than WiFi; urban areas have a better network connection than rural ones. You need to deliver great experiences to all of them. Optimize for the worst network connection — that will not impact the aesthetics of your website if you do not make it an afterthought.

Check Website on Mobile-Friendliness

80% of users drop a website if it has a bad UX, no matter how useful its services may be — and, because more than a half of the world traffic goes through mobile devices, you should focus on mobile.

To check if your website is optimized for mobile, you can use a test from Google: all you need to do is enter an URL of a website you wish to check and if it’s not mobile-friendly, the service shows you where issues are — in links redirection, text hierarchy, navigation, pictures’ size, etc — and you’ll be able to address them.

Wrapping up

Summing up, here are some key points:

  • You can measure a website’s UX from the search engine point of view and through, abstractly speaking, a more customer-focused angle — conversion rates, task performance rates, etc.
  • When you decide to improve your website UX, you need to concentrate on all aspects of your website — it’s usually easier to start with making a website fast and mobile-friendly.

One important thing to remember: take care of the core of your website — the content. There is one famous Bill Gates phrase — “Content is king”; and what kind of a kingdom a website is with a bad king ruling over it? Content is one of the most vital parts of user experience; don’t neglect it.

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