We know that improving the experience for people once they reach our pages is essential—that’s UX 101. As it turns out, however, good UX will have a more prominent impact on search engine rankings going forward.
According to a May 2020 Google Webmaster Central Blog post, Google Search will now factor a sizable handful of UX signals into its rankings, including Google’s new Core Web Vitals. Here’s more detail from the Google team:
“Core Web Vitals are a set of real-world, user-centered metrics that quantify key aspects of the user experience. They measure dimensions of web usability such as load time, interactivity, and the stability of content as it loads.”
With these updates to its search algorithm, Google is signaling its own greater emphasis on “delightful” web experiences for people—on things loading fast, is easy to use and find, and accessible across all devices and platforms. Sites that can deliver this caliber of user experience will be rewarded with better search visibility.
Coincidentally, these are precisely the areas we recommend focusing on as you consider your own site’s UX. It’s really an opportunity to walk a mile in the shoes of your website’s visitors—to be rewarded in the SEO department for prioritizing good user experiences.
With that information in hand, we recommend giving your website a whirl on desktop, iPhone, and Android, and any other devices or platforms your users are likely accessing your site through. Are there any pages on your site that load slowly? Do you have pop-ups running that, however important to demand generation, are actually annoying and intrusive for end-users? Finally, are there experiences that don’t translate well to mobile devices?
As with anything, prioritize content and content experiences that both create the most value for users and impact your business metrics most directly. Perhaps your product pages rank really well and are considered “cornerstone;” now might be the time to audit them from a UX perspective to make sure that you’re delivering the best experience possible.
Poor grades in any of these “user-centered metrics” not only degrade UX for your website’s audiences, but they can now hurt your search rankings, too. Remember, your website should be:
- Fast. Like, really fast, so that time to interactivity is so minimal that users don’t notice it.
- Free of annoying full-screen pop-ups. Marketers love lead gen, building lists, and expanding reach. So they love pop-ups, naturally. Users, on the other hand, can’t stand them—by an overwhelming majority. The Google search algorithm has been updated in response to this sentiment.
- Mobile-friendly and responsive across all devices and platforms. This includes smartphones and tablets, laptops, and desktop computers. It includes iOS, Android, and Windows operating systems.