We all surf, search, shop, click, compare and purchase as end consumers on our smartphones and laptops. As website owners, we create project plans. optimize, and monitor our web properties in order to improve the way users find content from your website on search engines. This article introduces you to the world of website user experience and shares strategies proven to optimize sites for high-quality and memorable user interactions.
As every website owners knows by now, website optimization is no longer just limited to technical SEO aspects and peppering texts with the right keywords. A great number of measures for optimizing website performance – for Google as well as end-users – play a role at this point, which in sum create a rather complex situation. So in order to keep things simple, all of these multifarious initiatives were subsumed under the header ‘SEO.’
Consulting a dictionary in search of a workable definition of SEO frequently brings up entries like this: ”Today, the abbreviation SEO is also translated as Search Experience Optimization, as improvement in usability is also becoming part of SEO as the focus of optimization measures is on users and search engines.” This definition, including the role of users as well as search engines, closely resembles the current practical aspects of SEO. But it also falls short of encompassing the entire truth.
Here at Ryte, we work with the following 5 Pillars of Website User Experience:
Figure: Ryte's 5 Pillars of Website User Experience
The reasons why these components are essential are obvious. For perspective, let’s take a quick look at the evolution of Google.
Taking a comprehensive overview of Google updates over the past decades, a common pattern emerges: user experience. Here’s an overview of Google’s recent evolution and the goals and impact of each update.
|Google Update||Goal / Impact||Rollout|
|Panda||Penalties for sites with low-quality content and no added value for users; for instance content farms and pages with lots of duplicate content.||From February 23, 2011|
|Penguin||Loss of visibility for sites using SEO spam measures or ‘Black Hat SEO.’ Focus on eradicating web spam related to backlinks and keyword stuffing.||From April 24, 2012|
|Hummingbird||More emphasis on semantics of search results, response to more complex search queries. Searches can also be answered within SERPs, which leads to a rise in zero-click searches.||From August 20, 2013|
|Pigeon||Increased ranking for local entries during searches. Preferentially showing users matching search results in their vicinity.||From July 24, 2014|
|Mobile Update (“Mobilegeddon”)||As announced two months ahead of rollout, websites, and apps that are optimized for mobile search rank higher in mobile search results.||From April 21, 2015|
|RankBrain||Machine learning and artificial intelligence employed to answer search queries never submitted before.||From October 26, 2015|
|Core Update||Essential updates such as Penguin and Panda are part of Google’s ‘Core algorithm.’ Moving forward, they are updated continuously instead of manually.||From January 2016|
|Fred||Although not officially confirmed by Google, this update docks all websites that violate the Google Webmaster Guidelines. The name comes from a jest by Google employee Gary Illyes, which is why ever since Google quality updates have been labeled ‘Fred Updates.’||March 9, 2017|
|Speed Update||Website load times officially become ranking factors. Websites with long load times lose their search rank position.||July 9, 2018|
|BERT||Clearer attribution of search queries to avoid misleading search results. Prepositions are considered for contextual understanding.||October 24, 2019|
|Mobile First Indexing||Google stops crawls of desktop websites. Mobile websites now serve to rank Google search results.||March 2021|
|Page Experience Update||The comprehensive view on user experience provided by websites becomes a ranking factor. Important ranking signals include Core Web Vitals, mobile-friendliness, safe browsing, HTTPS, and avoiding interstitials.||schrittweise Einführung ab Juni 2021|
Please keep in mind that this is just a quick overview of the new algorithms rolled out and updated by Google over the past few years; sometimes with or without prior announcements. The clear mission followed by Google here lies in displaying users the best possible websites to match their searches. And ever since the latest update poised to be rolled out starting in June of this year, website operators have no doubt where the journey is headed for the search engine: Page Experience.
With that said, let’s address website user experience. After all, your WEBSITE is the core of your digital success. When it comes to evaluating all relevant aspects of optimizing your website, it’s key to always consider the perspective of your USERS, meaning your (potential) website visitors as a primary focus. Whenever you make sure to design your website in a way that helps visitors navigate easily, find what they need, feel welcome, and want to come back, you’re creating a positive USER EXPERIENCE.
Sounds rather simple, right? 🤔
The overall Page Experience, including factors like mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal, is becoming a search rank factor. What’s more, the Mobile-First Indexing rolled out in May also makes clear that the idea of a website ‘living’ on desktop is finally going the way of the dodo. From now on, whenever we speak of a website, what we really mean is a mobile website. Keep this in mind when checking your web properties for the following aspects:
1. Search Engine Optimization – how can we assure optimal placement on Google SERPs?
2. Quality Assurance – how can you provide a 100% error-free website?
3. Website Performance – how can you keep load times low?
Pages that are slow to load are most likely also pages with the highest bounce rates. Nothing new, right? But what exactly are factors that can weigh down your page load times?
4. Accessibility – how to provide unhindered access to your website content to all users without exceptions?
The term ‘accessibility’ contains all aspects allowing all kinds of internet users to access your website on a large number of devices without barriers.
5. Website Compliance – how can you keep up with meeting fundamental legal requirements on the web?
Last but not least: Let’s talk about website compliance. Because with all the freedom for publishing attractive content on the web, there are some rules to keep in mind.
So there you have it! By covering these factors and keeping them updated over the long run, you’re making sure that your website always has a positive impact on user experiences. And ultimately, this positive impact will spread to your conversion results – just wait and see!
All sounds pretty convincing, right? Then again, it’s rather painstaking work to manually analyze and diagnose these individual factors, and then get to monitoring and optimizing over time. So to conclude this article, we want to make your entry into the world of website optimization as smooth as possible. How? By letting Ryte help you optimize the 5 major pillars of WUX like a pro! Does that sound appealing to you? Then take the first step by booking your Ryte demo today!
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Published on 06/24/2021 by Kate Aspinwall.
Kate is a Marketing / Branding Expert at Ryte. She joined the team in 2018 after completing her Masters at the University of Edinburgh. Before becoming a Ryte Superhero, Kate worked as a Brand Strategist at a Boston-based creative agency. She is passionate about branding, international marketing, and finding the best vegetarian restaurant in Munich.