UX Signals for SEO that You Should Not Ignore
SEO is a complex discipline. There are hundreds of variables that affect its success. The good news is that you don’t need to spend hours researching each variable. In 2022 and beyond you can focus on building a solid foundation for your site with valuable content and enhancing the user experience of your website. SEO professionals mainly focus on on-page SEO (keywords, content etc) and off-page SEO (backlinks). However, user experience factors can now no longer be ignored. In this post, let’s understand some of these softer yet imperative aspects of SEO that are being evaluated by search engines nowadays in the best interests of the user.
The What and Why of UX
User Experience or UX is the science of designing things that people want to interact with. In other words, it’s the study of how people perceive websites and apps. The goal of UX design is to create a positive experience for the user.
When it comes to SEO, UX matters. If you’re looking to rank higher in Google, then you need to take into account both the technical and non-technical elements of your site. For example, you’ll want to ensure that your site is providing a positive and lovable experience to the users after they land on your website and engage with its content. This means that your pages load quickly, your navigation is intuitive, and your content is well organized.
UX Signals that Google looks for
According to information from Google’s search team and SEO experts, here are some of the main UX signals that matter –
Page Dwell Time:
Search engines take into account the amount of time your visitors spend on your site. In other words, they consider the length of time users spend on each page as an indication of their engagement. If your audience spends a lot of time reading your content, then it’s likely that they found it interesting and relevant. This is what Page Dwell Time is and the higher its value the better it is for your SEO. To ensure high dwell times, focus on creating not only insightful and relevant content but also how it is presented to the user.
Waiting long for a webpage to be displayed in the browser is something that no one likes. In other words, the slow loading speed of your pages is bad for UX and is evaluated by search engines as a technical SEO factor. Website speed matters because it affects how well your site performs in search results.
More than 60% of all searches are done on smartphones. In today’s mobile-first design environment, the performance of your site and its content is imperative. In fact, Google indexes the mobile version of a website more than the desktop version. So if your website isn’t optimized for mobile devices, chances are it won’t rank as highly as it would have otherwise.
As of 2021, Google evaluates Page Experience signals as part of its SEO ranking factors. Core Web Vital is a set of metrics that website owners ought to be tracking. These relate to the loading time, responsiveness, and visual stability of the content on each web page. These are user-centered metrics that quantify key aspects of the user experience.
Tools to Measure Performance
Fortunately, finding out how your website is performing in terms of these UX factors is not so difficult. For instance, dwell time can be easily tracked using Google Analytics. Pagespeed Insights is another tool that can help to check if your page loading is up to expectations, and if not, the fixes you can do to your site to improve. Lastly page experience metrics for your website are available in Google Search Console if it is enabled for your web property.
To summarize user experience design should be a top priority as part of your SEO efforts as it helps you understand user engagement by considering factors such as dwell time and mobile responsiveness. These have a direct and strong impact on your SEO rankings because of the various metrics that search engine spiders use to track user engagement. If you focus on implementing effective UX design, you’ll be able to improve your user engagement metrics, and these metrics will ultimately affect your overall search ranking.
If you are looking to learn SEO in more detail, have a look at our SEO course too!
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Instructor: Azhar Katib
About the author
Azhar Katib is the founder-director of WebSell Solutions Ptd Ltd., a company specializing in online presence management for SMEs in Singapore and Malaysia.
He has a background IT and Digital Marketing for the past 25+ years. He is also a trainer for Singapore SkillsFuture Programs