With different types of SEO, keeping up with all the ranking factors often feels like conquering Mount Everest—it’s not for the faint-hearted.
However, giving up is not an option as there are tens of SEO benefits you can reap if you just stick it out—from using brand SEO to boost brand awareness and attract more targeted traffic to increased leads and sales, there’s a lot at stake.
One of the often-underestimated ranking factors is none other than user experience. It’s time we shone some light on it—we’ll explore how user experience affects SEO and how optimizing your website for users can improve your visibility on search engines.
Table of Contents
What Is User Experience (UX)?
User experience (UX) refers to a person's emotions and impressions about using a particular product or a service, like a website or a mobile app.
It includes the practical, experiential, affective, meaningful and valuable parts of human-computer interaction. Additionally, it encompasses all aspects of the end-user's interaction with a company, its services and its products.
UX comes down to how easy or difficult it is to use something and how satisfied or pleased a person is with it. Good UX leads to satisfied customers who will return to the business and recommend it to others, while poor UX can frustrate customers and cause them to abandon the product or service altogether.
As you can tell, UX can often make or break a deal, but unfortunately, it still doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Instead of focusing on UX from the very beginning, for many businesses, it is just an afterthought.
But, in terms of UX for websites, better late than never doesn’t work—businesses lose more than $62 billion each year due to poor UX.
Does UX Impact SEO?
How much time or money do you spend on SEO? Do you even know how many people you hired to write high-quality content to attract more visitors? Have you already lost a fortune on marketing?
The truth is, the only people who care about this are you, your employees, and possibly your financial adviser.
Your audience, on the other hand, couldn’t care less. All they care about is the value all that brings to them and how easy it is for them to get what they came for—and that’s UX.
Without UX, your efforts and investments will go in vain. Yes, even if you have the best marketing team on board or if you hired top-shelf writers.
- 39% of visitors won’t engage with your content if the images are slow to load
- 88% of users are less likely to return to a website due to poor UX
- 40% of people will leave your website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load
Needless to say, UX affects SEO greatly!
How User Experience Affects SEO
Think of it this way: search engines themselves take UX into account when determining rankings, as they want to provide their users with the best possible results.
Back in 2020, Google announced Core Web Vitals, a set of user-centered metrics which help site owners measure user experience on the web. This initiative includes signals such as loading experience, site speed, interactivity and visual stability of the page contents.
There are many ways that UX can impact SEO, some of which are more direct than others. Things like site speed and mobile-friendliness are essential for good SEO, and good UX will naturally lead to faster loading times and a better mobile experience.
Other factors, such as the way users interact with your site and the overall quality of your content, can also indirectly impact your SEO by giving Google signals that your site is worth ranking highly.
Of course, there are many other aspects of user experience, from the overall design and layout of a site to the way content is presented and accessed. All of these factors can affect how easy it is for users to find what they are looking for on a website and how likely they are to stick around.
It is no secret that providing a great user experience is important for the success of any website—happy users are more likely to stay on a site, interact with it, and come back for more.
All of these things are signals search engines use to rank a site. So, it stands to reason that improving the user experience of a website can also have a positive effect on its SEO.
Two Crucial UX Factors That Boost SEO
UX factors such as page loading speed, website/page design, content layout and structure, responsiveness, mobile-friendliness, navigability and overall user satisfaction are all key elements that play a role in boosting SEO.
Having a website with efficient navigation, good page structure and fast loading speeds makes for an improved user experience which can increase search engine rankings.
Additionally, providing quality content relevant to the topic being researched will entice users to stay on the site longer and will help lead to higher engagement levels which are favored by search engines. All of these UX factors work together to create an optimal browsing experience for users which itself has favorable implications for SEO.
These are the two most important factors:
1. Mobile-First Design
Mobile-first design is a crucial UX factor that can boost SEO as it ensures your website is optimized for mobile users—6.648 billion of them. 59.5% of website traffic comes from mobile devices, which is exactly how much traffic you’d lose if your site isn’t responsive.
This involves creating a website that allows visitors to easily and quickly access the information they need from their mobile devices, making it more likely for them to stay on the page longer and perform the desired actions.
- 61% of mobile users are more likely to engage with mobile-optimized sites
- 74% of people will return to a responsive website
- 52% of users will exit a website that doesn’t have a responsive mobile design
Additionally, Google now considers mobile optimization when determining search engine rankings. Those with a mobile-friendly website will benefit by appearing higher in search results than those without.
Let’s not even mention that having a strong presence on both desktop and mobile devices increases brand credibility and trust among consumers who are increasingly using their phones and tablets to search online.
2. Load Time
A faster loading page increases user satisfaction, reduces bounce rate and ultimately leads to higher rankings in search engine results. It also helps reduce overall website latency, leading to a better experience for visitors and reducing abandonment rates.
The average load time on a desktop is 2.5 seconds and 8.6 seconds on a mobile. Load time is important as a site that takes a second to load has a 3x higher conversion rate than sites that load in 5 seconds.
If you won’t take our word for it, think of Walmart; they found that their conversion rate increased by 2% for every second of improvement in page load time.
Google agrees that page speed can affect your conversion rate—for every second delay in mobile page load, it can fall by 20%.
The Most Important User Engagement Metrics
There are a lot of UX metrics that can help you track user engagement on your website or app.
User engagement metrics are a great way to measure how effective your website or app is at getting and retaining users. These metrics include session length, clicks per visit, bounce rate, time on site, page views per visit, conversion rate and repeat visits.
Each metric indicates user activity and can be used to track user behavior which can help in optimization, experimentation and personalization. By tracking these key user engagement metrics, you will gain valuable insights into your users’ expectations and preferences. Then you can make adjustments to increase satisfaction and retention, ultimately boosting UX.
These are the crucial ones that gauge how well your website performs in terms of UX and SEO:
1. Bounce Rate
Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your site after viewing only one page, usually your home page or landing page.
A high bounce rate (70-80%) can be a sign that your content is not relevant to what users are looking for or that your site is difficult to navigate.
Conversely, a low bounce rate (20-30%) indicates that users are finding what they're looking for on your website and sticking around to check out more pages.
Let’s see what the numbers say:
- Most websites have bounce rates between 26% to 70%
- The average bounce rate for all industries is approximately 47%
- Blog posts usually have a 65% or higher bounce rate
- If a website takes 10 or more seconds to load, the chance of a bounce increases by 123%
- B2B websites have bounce rates from 25% to 55%
- eCommerce sites’ average bounce rate is 47%
- The average bounce rate for WordPress websites stands at 40%
Obviously, you want to aim for a low bounce rate, and this is how you can calculate it:
Bounce Rate = Single-page Visits / Total Visits
But how do you achieve a low bounce rate? Here are a few tips:
- Ensure your site is fast and responsive. No one wants to wait around for a slow-loading website.
- Have clear and concise content. Users should be able to understand what your site is about within seconds of landing on it.
- Have intuitive navigation. Users should be able to find what they're looking for without any trouble.
- Use engaging visuals. Don't bore users with walls of text—break things up with images, videos and other rich media.
2. Page Dwell Time
Even since a former senior project manager at Bing mentioned dwell time in his 2011 blog post, the ranking system as we knew it changed forever. More and more websites started taking dwell time into consideration when trying to get higher in the SERPs.
Page dwell time measures how long a person stays on a page and is considered to be in the range between 2 and 4 minutes.
This metric also provides insights into other user behaviors such as bounce rate, scroll depth and return visits which are all indicators that the user has found value in the content. You can also gather invaluable feedback around how relevant and engaging the content is to users, where they look and what they do while they're there, plus any associated conversion rates that your site may have.
Dwell time is essential in helping marketers strategize around user retention and optimization as it allows them to evaluate where improvements can be made and how to retain users’ interests. This data-driven approach helps brands better understand what compels their target audience and encourages them to stay longer on their pages.
These are some of the best practices to skyrocket your dwell times:
- Grab visitors' attention right away. Hook them in the intro so they’ll be eager to find out more.
- Focus on search intent. In most cases, you can determine what people expect to see from the keyword itself, but if you don’t have a clear idea, take a look at the top-ranking results.
- Shy away from clickbait. Write meta tags that truly describe what your content is all about.
- Embrace internal linking. Directing your readers from one blog post to another is a surefire way to have them stay on your site longer.
How User Experience Affects SEO: Key Takeaways
User experience is becoming increasingly important in digital marketing. In today's world, having a website or creating content is not enough—businesses must also strive to give their customers the best possible user experience.
By considering user experience as part of your overall SEO strategy, you can ensure your website delivers an effective and enjoyable user experience that encourages users to stay on the page longer, visit more pages, and return often. This is guaranteed to help increase your site’s visibility in search engines and drive more traffic to its pages.