User Experience now affects your Google ranking – it’s time to get prepared

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In 2021, Google announced a new ranking algorithm called Google Page Experience, which takes your website’s user experience (UX) into consideration for your page ranking. While search algorithms continually evolve, this rollout was one of the most significant changes in recent memory. If you’ve been thinking of updating your website, or if you’ve had feedback from customers who have struggled to navigate your site, now is the time to get prepared and start making changes to your user experience before it’s too late. 

What is UX and why is it so important? 

Gone are the days where the visual design of a website is the most important factor. There are a lot of pretty websites out there today that are difficult to navigate. And while the branding and look of a website is important, it means nothing if you leave your visitors frustrated every time they visit. 

UX can often be ignored because it sounds like tech jargon, but it’s actually simple once you understand it. What it really means is how easy it is for visitors to interact with a website. So, UX is about creating a positive experience and feeling. The last thing you want is for a potential customer to feel frustrated and annoyed when visiting your site because they cannot find the information they need. If you can design a website with your audience’s needs in mind, they’ll come back time and time again, and most importantly, refer and recommend you to their friends and family. 

When thinking about the UX of your website, there’s a few important considerations you need to make: 

  • Clear navigation – Can the visitor find the information they need? Can they easily switch between pages of the website?
  • Performance – Is the website sluggish and slow to load? It has been shown that 53% of consumers will leave a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load (4). 
  • Readability – is the website text-heavy? Is the text easy to read? Does the website help to lead the visitor’s eye to the information they want to find? 
  • Responsiveness – Is your website optimised for mobile? While a website can look great on a desktop, studies have shown that 52.1% of people use their phones to search online (2). 

If you can improve the UX of your website, and put your visitors first, you can dramatically improve your business and revenue moving forward. 

So, what does your Google ranking have to do with UX? 

Studies show that just 3% of searchers look past the first page of results on Google (5). This means that if your business isn’t listed on page 1 of Google search results, it likely isn’t getting seen. In addition to this, 55% of searchers don’t venture beyond the first 3 results listed (5). In order to grow your business, you need to be seen, and showing up on Google is one of the most important things a business can do to reach customers. 

Unfortunately, getting your business found on Google is not as easy as pressing “publish” and sending your website off into the online abyss. Your UX will be just one piece of the ranking pie, as you also need to take SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), SEM (Search Engine Marketing), keywords, and business listings into consideration.

The new Google Page Experience uses a number of criteria in order to assess the UX of a site, and therefore determine the subsequent Google ranking, of each website. These metrics include load time, mobile friendliness, content, and the use of HTTPS (i.e. your website’s security and trustworthiness) within a website, as well as the presence of ads. Each of these items will have their own unique weight and score within the algorithm, which, combined, will lead to the overall ranking of a website. 

How you can improve UX on your website

There are no shortcuts to creating a website which visitors enjoy using. A lot can be said for the time spent researching, designing, and thinking about your website’s experience. While most of the components required to improve UX will need to be carried out by a developer, there’s a few things you can do yourself to improve the overall look and feel of your site. 

  • Do your research. Take some time to explore other websites out there that have great UX. What is it about them that makes it so simple to use? Which of these elements could you incorporate into your own website? 
  • Think about your audience. What type of questions would your audience be asking when they visit your website? Think about the unique problems your business seeks to solve, then put yourself into your audience’s shoes and consider their needs when navigating your site. Where can you make improvements to the design so that this information is front and centre? 
  • Focus on the readability of your website. Look at the content within your website now, and consider if it is telling the overall story of your business, and helping visitors find the information they need. Sometimes simple is best. Think about what you need to say, and what’s just there to fill in some gaps. 

You can do a lot more to improve your UX with the help of your website developer. Here’s just some of the things they can do:

  • Improve the navigation of your website. Your developer can improve the layout and menu of the website so that the most important information can be easily found. By doing your research and thinking about what your visitors’ needs are, they can tailor your website to suit. 
  • Enhance the performance of your website. Your developer can ensure your website loads in under 2 seconds, and can make improvements to the back end of your website to improve overall site performance. 
  • Improve the look and feel of your website. Your developer can improve the contrast and colours of your website so that text and important information stands out and isn’t missed by the visitor. They can also incorporate important design elements to enhance how your visitor feels when they enter your site. 
  • Add banners and calls to action. These important interaction elements make it easier than ever for your visitors to find what they are looking for. They can be placed strategically throughout the site to enhance your conversions and avoid visitor frustrations. 
  • Optimise for mobile. The mobile version of your website should work just as well, if not better, than your desktop. Your developer can help you achieve this.
  • Ensure your website is secure and uses HTTPS. HTTPS is a secure protocol used to send data between a browser and a website. Data and information submitted on a website which uses HTTPS keeps personal information safe, and reduces the risk of a cyber attack. Unsecure websites are ranked lower on Google, and most visitors are wary of using them. Your developer can ensure your website puts cybersecurity and safety front of mind, so that visitors feel comfortable sharing important information with you through your website. 

References:

  1. Peter Roesler, June 30, 2020, “User Experience will affect Google rankings starting next year”, Inc., https://www.inc.com/peter-roesler/user-experience-will-affect-google-rankings-starting-next-year.html
  2. Christo Petrov, July 24, 2020, “57 Mobile vs. Desktop usage statistics for 2002”, Tech Jury, https://techjury.net/blog/mobile-vs-desktop-usage/#gref
  3. Brad Litwin, July 11, 2018, An introduction to useability and user experience in web design”, “https://www.a2hosting.com/blog/usability-and-user-experience
  4. Hosting Tribunal, “20+ website load time statistics and facts”, Hosting Tribunal, https://hostingtribunal.com/blog/how-speed-affects-website/#gref 

Blue Corona, June 27, 2019, “How do I get to the top of Google search results in 2019”, Blue Corona, https://www.bluecorona.com/blog/how-do-i-get-my-business-on-the-first-page-of-google/

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