The UX Factor

One of the many plates that marketers have to spin is keeping up to date with the ever changing jargon: you need to know your alphabet pretty well! The term User Experience seems first to have been used by Apple in the 1990’s but the acronym for it – UX – is trending in the digital marketing world as we speak.

UX is important not only for delighting your users but also for improving Google search rankings. Google’s webmaster guidelines include the statement that “Google’s goal is to provide users with the most relevant results and a great user experience.

Lady putting together digital marketing strategy

UX includes all aspects of an end user’s interaction with an organisation and in today’s fast-moving world, is increasingly crucial for commercial success. The proliferation of social networking sites means that consumers’ bad experiences have evolved from being simply personal frustrations to public gossip fodder, paving the way for your organisation to be condemned by the digital equivalent of a kangaroo court!

So, whilst your digital marketing strategy does still need to be about reaching out to customers old and new, gathering and analysing data, finding creative ways to interact and convert …. User Experience needs to be at the core. As the old saying goes, it’s not what you do, it’s the way you do it!

Here are five ways that you can make sure your website is going to provide users with an engaging and responsive experience.

Responsive design
Responsive design is effectively being able to automatically adapt in the best layout across all devices. Your website should give the impression of being intended for whichever device is currently displaying it.
Whilst one of the driving factors in recent months has been to create better experiences for users on mobile devices – especially with Google’s new mobile-friendly algorithm – you need to ensure that your website has a user-friendly display across all screen sizes, including very large displays. Improved support for small screens should not mean diminished support for large ones!

Interactive elements
The research found evidence to suggest that your UX will be better if you include components such as menus, buttons and other interactive elements such as hover states, audiovisual media, sliding or scrolling interactions. Structuring your content by using some of these elements can achieve the effect of making your site easier and more intuitive to use, and will engage and interest the user.

Internal links
During 2015, the number of internal links per page in top ranking websites has increased. Used well, internal links are vital in enhancing and improving the user journey. They can guide people to related pages and other useful and relevant content. They will keep users on your website longer and provide more opportunities to build up a meaningful relationship. Internal linking also connects one page or post of your website to another and through this can improve Google rankings.

Images
Every picture tells a story and the research found that top ranking websites use around 25% more images in their landing pages as compared to a year ago. Images can have the effect of improving readability, increasing the time users spent on your site and generally enhance UX. They can also help to attract new users through Google’s image search function.

Bullet points
Lists such as bullet points and numbered lists help improve the structure of a page, making it easier to read and absorb the content. Bullets and numbered lists help break up the content into manageable chunks and make it more accessible and user friendly. They are also often incorporated into the navigation of the website. The research shows that Google may prefer content with bullets and numbers: the better a website’s usability the more likely it is to be ranked higher by Google.

So what can we glean from the above? Basically, the key message is that exceptional user experience is critical for high Google rankings – even more so than quality content. Therefore the very best way to boost your Google rankings – and keep your customers happy! – is to ensure that your website has the UX factor.

* The Searchmetrics research
The Searchmetrics Search Ranking Factors and Rank Correlations study analysed the top 30 Google US search results for 10,000 relevant keywords, which adds up to approximately 300,000 websites appearing on Google.com. The aim of the analysis (which has been carried out every year since 2012) is to identify the key factors that high ranking web pages have in common and provide insights and benchmarks to help marketers, webmasters and SEO professionals.