At Lilac James we have always strongly advised our customers to get their user experience (ux) right. It can be very frustrating for us when we see the organic traffic we have gained for a client not interacting with the website well, dropping off, not visiting pages and not spending the expected time on the website.
Sometimes clients are adamant that their user experience is the way it should be so Google Analytics always comes in handy when trying to explain the benefits of getting their UX right.
Glenn Gabe explains the connection he has found between user experience and organic search performance in his part 2 article for Search Engine Land. After analysing many sites that he works with, he saw drops and/or surgers in rankings during the Google quality algorithm update. He suggests that the drops in rankings he saw were examples of "low-quality user experience".
He does go on to say that of course low quality content could be and most likely is included in this too, as Google does favor high quality content over poor. However it is great to see that someone else is making a connection between poor user experience and ranking positions and not just focusing on the quality of the content on the site.
He also explains that in most cases there are a number of reasons why rankings have dropped during a quality update and we also strongly agree with this. A great way to identify potential issues is to carryout a site audit. Ask yourself some of the following questions:
- Do you put people off with a pop up when they first visit your website? We would recommend that you should wait for your visitor to spend some time on your website before potentially aggravating them with a pop up.
- Is there a lot of advertising at the top of you web pages? This is going to push the valuable content your visitors is looking for down that page. Be selective when it comes to allowing advertising on your site and think about how it is going to impact on your users experience with you - will they think you are a reliable source of information if you use aggressive advertising on your site?
- Is Google even able to render your web page? A great way to understand what Google are seeing when they crawl your website is by using the fetch and render tool in Google Webmaster Tools. It could be that the way your website is built it actually blocking Google from crawling the quality content you are offering.
What else should you do?
When building a website or making adjustments to an existing website be mindful of your user experience. Take a look in your Google Analytics account, see how your organic traffic visitors are interacting with your website (if you have one) and see if they are spending time on your site viewing pages. See if your bounce rate is high for example, this and the other statistics will help you to establish your current UX.
If you don't currently have a website run some tests. Ask people you know, other businesses, or potential customers to test out your chosen navigation and content layout. Offer them an incentive to test it for you in return for their honest opinion. This is also handy for when an existing website is moving to a new design as your current customer base are going to want to be able to easily find the information they were able to find before.
"quality updates seem more focused on user experience than content quality"