The usability of your website is closely related to search engine rankings. Focus on optimizing the four key usability elements outlined in this article to improve the visitor’s on-site experience and increase your ranking on Google in a sustainable way.There was a time when usability-the ease of use and functionality of a website-was seen as another SEO concern.
Usability is generally considered to be something that can increase visitor engagement and conversion rate on your website, and is not directly related to SEO, which is a process used to improve search engine rankings and organic traffic.Although the first part of the previous statement is still true, Google’s ranking algorithm has changed significantly in the past few years-increasingly focused on determining the level of user experience of the site and providing the most user-friendly results at the top.
That’s right-all mainstream SEO strategies (such as guest blogging, link building, and keyword optimization) are very applicable today-since you first started optimizing your website for search engines, you need to keep doing these things. However, if you want to reach the highest level of SERP and stay the same in 2021 and beyond, you must shift your focus to optimizing the various usability elements on your website, such as the elements discussed below..
1. Site speed
For more than a decade, website speed has been a crucial ranking factor. Therefore, if your page takes too long to load (more than three seconds), not only will visitors shrink from frustration, but your ranking on Google will also drop.In other words, ensuring the best page load speed is essential for usability and ranking. You can do many things in this regard, such as:
- Keep the code clean and minimize CSS and JS
- Use browser cache
- Reduce server response time by using CDN and fast hosting
- Use image compression tools to optimize huge image files
- Minimize page redirection
Use Google’s Page Speed Insights to evaluate your current website speed. The tool will provide you with a list of suggestions, which can then be improved to increase speed. For example, you may have bulky images that need to be compressed or too many unnecessary redirects.Essentially, PageSpeed Insights can help you pinpoint where your site is missing, and tell you exactly what you need to do to meet your need for speed.
Knowing that even a one-second delay in mobile load time will have an impact of up to 20% on mobile conversions, so website speed is a very important usability element, and you must be absolutely correct.
2. Mobile friendly
Today, mobile devices (not including tablets) account for more than half of global website traffic, 50.81% to be precise.Not surprisingly, thanks to Google’s mobile-first indexing feature, the mobile version of your website (rather than the desktop version) is the benchmark for how Google indexes and ranks your website. In short, the availability of your mobile device can effectively determine your website ranking on Google.
You can improve the mobile-friendliness of your website in the following ways:
Optimize the layout of the content for one-handed use: 75% of users touch the screen with only one thumb, while 10% hold the phone with one hand and tap with the other finger. Therefore, place the main interactions in the front and center (easy-access areas of the screen), and place the less important interactions at the edges. This makes it easy to use your website and provide a better mobile experience.Get rid of the navigation bar: Navigation bars may take up a lot of space, otherwise they may be used to display other important content. Instead of keeping it as it is, add a hamburger menu that turns your narrow navigation bar into an expandable menu.
Reduce the amount of typing required: Good mobile usability means minimal touch screen typing. Minimize the number of form fields on the mobile version of the website, enable auto-fill as much as possible, and provide options to connect to existing accounts (such as Facebook or Google) instead of requiring registration from scratch.
Disable pop-up windows: Pop-up windows on mobile devices can be very annoying and severely harm the user experience. Google may also be punished for pop-up windows or similar “intrusive interstitial ads”, these pop-up windows or similar interstitial ads will reduce the accessibility of the content, so please disable them immediately.
In addition, please avoid common mobile device usability errors, such as:
- Video content cannot be played due to Flash
- Font is too small
- Touch elements are too close to each other
- You can check how friendly your website is to mobile devices through Google’s mobile friendliness test.
3. Content quality
As you might expect, the quality of website content is closely related to the usability of the website. Low-quality content won’t inspire visitors to take action or participate in your product, and therefore won’t help your website rank well.To create high-quality content, you first need to understand your target role-understand your audience, their wishes, problems, and pain points. Analyze the search phrases that bring people to your website and understand what visitors are looking for to create relevant content and align with their intent.
Make sure to get the following instructions correctly.
The correct content layout is essential to improve the user experience. For this, you can use different font sizes, bullet and numbered lists, and F-shaped patterns as shown below. Keep consistent with your layout throughout the site to avoid user confusion.
Use subheadings H2, H3, H6 to create a logical content hierarchy on all pages. This can improve readability and scan ability by splitting the content, thereby increasing usability. Please make sure that each page has a unique H1 title tag to attract search engine users to click.
All your content should be in-depth and answer all questions about the topic so that visitors don’t feel the need to cite other sources and will be satisfied with their search experience. That being said, don’t add fluff to increase the word count-visitors will easily recognize whether you do this, which will lead to a bad user experience.
Link to a reputable authoritative website to improve your website’s credibility in the eyes of Google and visitors. Use the latest statistics and facts from reliable sources to back up your claims. Have a reasonable internal link structure, which can guide visitors to access relevant pages from your content. Broken links (“404 not found”) can also damage usability and ranking, so look for and fix them immediately.
Publishing long-form articles and text-based content is obviously crucial to ranking high on Google. But what if your target audience prefers visual content, such as video blogs or infographics? For best usability, create content in the format your audience prefers.
4. Site Navigation
No matter what your website is, its navigation structure plays a key role in its usability. For example, if your website is a blog. How are your blog posts organized? Can visitors search for specific posts? How many clicks does it take to get from point A to point B? Or, if it is a web application, can it be easily launched to be seamlessly adopted by users?Use the menu bar, recognizable icons and clickable links to aid navigation. For example, if the text on your homepage is clickable and takes visitors to a specific landing page, it must be obvious. Make it descriptive, change its color, underline it or turn the text into a button.
Intuitive navigation means that your visitors don’t need to think while browsing your website. They are less likely to be frustrated and it is easy to find what they need, all of which means high availability and therefore high rankings.
Better website usability translates into better ranking, simple and straightforward. With each update, Google’s ranking algorithm pays more and more attention to reward sites that bring “pleasant” web experiences to their users-fast, intuitive, and engaging experiences on all devices.
Don’t just focus on merging keywords and establishing backlinks in order to get better search rankings. Although it is important to do so, the various usability elements outlined above should also be prioritized to ensure that you are in a leading position in SERPs in the long term.