Getting users to stay on your website and interact with your content can boost your website’s ranking, and you can do so by improving the user experience and usability of your website. Using keywords to get visitors to click through to your site is only half the story.
What Is Website Usability?
Website usability encompasses many elements of website design, most of which are also tied to conversion.
Here are a few that can affect your website ranking:
Effectiveness: can users achieve their objectives when they land on your website? e.g. Can they find the information they need, order the products they desire, or contact the company for customer service?
Efficiency: adding to effectiveness is efficiency. Besides being able to achieve an objective, how quickly can a user complete a task? If visitors cannot find what they need effectively and efficiently on your website, they’re more likely to navigate away. The shorter time they spend on your website may have a negative impact on the SEO ranking.
Learnability: can users learn to navigate your website quickly? Are the calls-to-action that are clickable consistent so visitors know how to interact? When visitors spend too much time trying to figure out how to use your website, they’re spending less time consuming your information or looking at your products. Plus, when they can’t find what they need, it’s likely that they will get frustrated, navigate away and never come back.
Memorability: can users re-find your website next time they go onto a search engine? Repeat traffic can help you get a Google ranking boost. Visitors may find your website and then navigate away for a number of reasons. They may remember it later and try to search for it again. Is the keyword associated with that particular search memorable enough so they can find your site again?
Error Prevention: certain errors on a website can affect not only user experience but also SEO ranking. e.g. A 404 Page Not Found error, a link that says one thing but displays something else, or a broken link that is no longer valid.
How Does Good Website Usability Improve SEO Ranking?
Search engines reward sites that are user friendly, which means they have high usability. Google favors sites that are not only rich in keywords, but also demonstrate user engagement.
SEO ranking improves when visitors stay on your site longer, view more pages, and repeat their visits. The more user-friendly your site is, the more likely this is going to happen.
Let’s have a look at the lists that not only increase usability on your site, but also help improve SEO ranking:
1. Useful, High Quality, Relevant Content
When you provide useful content, visitors tend to stay longer on your website to consume the information and therefore increase the dwell time.
Based on this research, content between 2,000 – 2,500 words seems to rank the highest in search engine results.
Although word count doesn’t rule the SEO world – nobody will read your stuff if it’s not helpful to them – longer content does give you the opportunity to provide more value, include more keywords, incorporate more outbound links, and of course, get people to spend more time reading to increase dwell time.
Another reason to create highly useful content is that when visitors bookmark your content on Chrome, it will improve SEO ranking of your website in Google.
2. Page Load Speed
Both Google and Bing take page-loading speed into account in their website ranking algorithm.
Users may leave your site if they have to wait even just an extra few seconds for each page to load. That would hurt your dwell time, increase your bounce rate and reduce the number of pages viewed – all of which could hurt your SEO ranking.
There are many ways to increase page load speed, some of which include using a caching plug-ins, making sure the code is clean and streamlined, optimizing image sizes, reducing the number of plug-ins, and minimizing redirects.
Research has shown that using good quality images can increase conversion rate. Properly optimizing your images can help you take advantage of using photos to generate empathy, increase trust, and improve a visitor’s experience without hampering load time which could affect your SEO ranking.
3. Image Optimization
Besides image file format and sizing, there are other ways to make sure your images are working hard for you on the SEO front.
You can signal relevancy of your content to search engines by using keywords for your image file name, alt tag, title, description and caption.
4. Header Tags
Nobody likes running into a wall of text.
Good formatting of your content helps improve the user experience of your website tremendously. It makes readers more willing to spend time to read your content and come back for more, which will ultimately signal your relevancy to search engines.
Proper use of header tags can help break up your content into sections that are easier to read and utilize.
It’s easy to insert header tags in WordPress to improve user experience and improve SEO ranking of your website.
5. Outbound Links
To make your content more useful and relevant, you can link out to authority sites for more in-depth information your readers can use.
Linking out to well-respected authority sites will not only increase the relevancy of your content and time readers spend on your site, but it is also believed to send trust signals to Google and improve SEO ranking.
However, more is not necessarily better. Too many outbound links can be distracting and make the content hard to get through.
6. Different Multimedia
Images, videos, slideshows and audio can help enrich the user experience and allow you to deliver information in a way that is most suited to your ideal site visitors.
They also act as a signal of quality content to search engines… after all, you have put in the work to make your content look good and interactive!
Video marketing has become an increasingly integral element in driving user engagement and conversion. It’s found that websites using videos can achieve a 4.8% higher conversion rate, compared to a 2.9% average on websites that don’t use videos.
7. Broken Links
Who wants to get a 404 page after clicking on a link? Broken links make for bad usability.
Not only that, search engines considers a large number of broken links as a signal of an old, neglected site and this can impact your SEO ranking.
Making your content easy to read and understand helps make it useful to your readers. Some experts also believe that Google takes readability into account when ranking web pages.
9. Layout & Formatting
Proper formatting and a user-friendly layout can help improve user experience and make your content easy to scan and digest, so your readers will stay on your site longer and consume your website’s information.
Formatting can help dramatically improve a webpage’s usability by making the content easy to read:
Use font size and typography that are easy to read.
Use bold type and colors – sparingly and strategically – to call out important information and make the content easy to scan.
Use short paragraphs and ample line spacing in between – nobody likes a wall of text.
Use bulleted or numbered lists for clarity.
Use techniques such as sliders, tabs, progressive layouts, structured grids, modal windows, rollover elements, accordions and mega drop-down-menus to organize content and add interactivity.
Break up content into sections with subheads. Proper use of header tags that include keywords also helps improve SEO ranking.
10. Contact Us Page
Including a Contact Us page on your website and putting the link in the navigation not only makes for good user experience but also potentially earn you some Google juice.
It’s found that a well-designed contact form increases user participation in a company’s online presence. It also helps generate new business opportunities, capture new leads, improve customer service, and more.
11. Site Architecture And Navigation
When visitors can’t find what they need on a website right away, they most likely leave the site and this contributes to high bounce rate, low dwell time and low number of pages viewed.
A well-thought-out site architecture reflected in clear navigation is critical in helping visitors find what they want on your site, accomplish their goals and come back repeatedly (repeated visits can improve SEO ranking.)
12. Mobile Optimization
More and more users are consuming content on mobile devices, and not being mobile optimized is going to affect user experience and conversion.
It is particularly important for B2B marketers. Research has shown that 77 percent of executives use their smartphone to research a product or service for their business.
13. Social Sharing
The number of Facebook shares, Tweets, Pinterest pins and other social media mentions can influence SEO rank.
Installing social sharing buttons on your website not only makes it easy for users to share your content, and thereby improve user experience, it can also help you rank higher on searches.
14. Write About Topics Not Keywords
Ranking on Google has become quite complex. There are so many factors at play. However, there is a simple, topic-based approach you can use:
- Decide on a topic for your piece of content (via keyword research)
- Write the best and most helpful content you can
- Focus on your chosen topic (write naturally with your mind laser-focused on the reader)
- When you are done, go back and “tune” your content to ensure the keywords are in the right places(keywords are still relevant)
- Create an enticing headline (this helps get more eyeballs on both search and social media)
Remember, the reader should always come first.