The page experience a visitor has when accessing your website can determine if they will convert while also impacting how search engines view and rank your site. If your website is not optimized for user experience (UX), visitors can bounce out at any point. This type of behavior impacts your SEO, and eventually, your revenue if not properly maintained. If left neglected, finding the cause of any issues could become complicated, proving that SEO maintenance is essential to your business’s health.
This article will explain components like core web vitals, mobile-friendliness, safe browsing, HTTPS, and intrusive interstitials (pop-ups), as well as many others, and how they can all affect your search engine optimization and your overall page experience.
The following are what makes a good user experience and should be implemented to get the most out of your business website.
The core web vitals are a group of metrics that measure your site’s loading performance, running performance, and stability. As the name suggests, these metrics are vital to your website’s ranking since they determine a web page’s UX (user experience). They will also become a key ranking factor after Google rolls out its scheduled algorithm update in May 2021, focusing directly on page experience.
The three main core web vitals and their functions are as follows:
- LCP (Largest Contentful paint): This metric measures the time it takes for the largest element on a page’s viewport to load. It could be a photo, video, heading, or anything with a background image. This time measurement represents the page in its entirety and reflects its performance.
- First Input Delay (FID): FID measures the time it takes to get a response from your very first action on a webpage. This represents the interactivity of the page and should be at 100ms or less.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): CLS measures the stability of a web page. Keeping this metric in compliance will ensure the page elements do not shift unexpectedly, causing user frustration.
The daily use of mobile devices has risen in popularity and is sometimes favored over the desktop as the primary choice for visitors. Your visitors should be able to navigate your site on a mobile device without friction, excessive clicks, or frustration. The user experience should be just as smooth as your desktop site.
If your website is not mobile-friendly, you will not rank as high as those who provide a stable, fast, and visually pleasing mobile site. By increasing the ease of use, you will increase your ranking, which will bring more traffic.
Responsive website design ensures that your site displays well on any device regardless of screen size. It simplifies the development process by only having one version of the site. This method of having the same URL shows the site appropriately no matter what device does the loading.
When designing, it is best to set up your website layout for mobile, then cater to larger devices. Since a phone has the smallest viewport and needs a more precise layout than a tablet or a large desktop monitor can display, a mobile-first approach is helpful.
When you index your website, you give the search engines the data and functionality of your site and its pages so it can be shown to users searching for such content on the internet. Indexing is fundamental to driving traffic to your business. However, your site must be ready for it, or your SERP ranking could be affected.
Here are a few ways to best prepare your website for indexing:
- Ensure you have the same SEO robots meta tag on both mobile and desktop. Failing to do so could cause search engines to index desktop, but not mobile, or vise versa. You want to ensure that you have the same or equivalent title across mobile and desktop as well.
- Do not lazyload the main content on your website. Lazy loading is a technique where content only loads for the user when it is needed. This is ordinarily helpful since it maximizes performance and saves resources. However, search engines will not see the content if you use lazy load that requires any action to load it.
Your content should be original, engaging, non-repetitive, and consistent on mobile devices and desktop. This meaning that you must have the same content, nothing extra, on either version of the site. Since search engines sometimes pull more mobile content than desktop, having different content could actually result in an SEO penalty.
Since your content is what will bring visitors to your site, it should just be good. Writing vaguely about your business and products isn’t enough these days. The more informed your users are, the more likely they are to become customers, so giving them useful information is critical.
Structured data is metadata that includes information about a web page and the classification of its content. This information is organized to allow search engines to understand and display the info relative to the search. Metadata is information about other data that is summarized to help in the search and application of said data.
Here are some optimization tips for your structured data:
- If you need to prioritize what structured data you use on mobile, Breadcrumb, Product, and VideoObjects can be put first.
- Ensure you have the mobile versions of URLs in your mobile site if you have different URLs for mobile and desktop.
- Just like your content, your structured data should be the same for mobile and desktop.
- Lastly, if you use any webmaster tools like Google’s Data Highlighter, always check for errors.
Advertisements can either help or hurt your page experience, depending on their placement and intention. The ads should be relevant to the user or the page’s content without causing any confusion or obstruction of the main content.
When positioning ads, be sure to keep them away from the top of the page or allow them to be too large. If they are in the way or too bulky, they will distract from the content the user is trying to access, especially on mobile. Blocking your main content could cause your visitors to bounce.
For best practices and guidelines for displaying ads, The Coalition’s Better Ads Standards has more details.
Everyone wants their website to be visually pleasing and custom-tailored to their needs. This outcome usually requires plenty of images, which can cause UX issues if not optimized correctly.
Here are a few tips to avoid bringing down your visitor’s page experience:
- Do not use images that are too small or blurry (low resolution). Unclear product photos or just a blurry logo could send your visitors elsewhere.
- Stay away from huge images. Rendering large images uses up unnecessary resources and will slow down the page.
- Your images should not be a different URL every time the page loads. The URL attributes to the ranking and identification of the image and should remain consistent.
- As with all metadata, the image alt description should be the same on mobile and desktop. The image content should be the same as well. Keeping all metadata and content consistent will prevent indexing issues.
Intrusive pop-ups, also known as intrusive interstitials, are precisely what the name sounds like. They can be annoying to users, especially if they can’t figure out how to close them.
The content in the pop-ups is accessible to search engines. However, the experience of dealing with it frustrates the user. The use of pop-ups can help your SEO in that aspect, but the execution must not interfere with the page experience. Suppose something pops up on your screen and interrupts the primary content upon loading or just beginning to scroll down a webpage. No matter what the content, it can bring about feelings of frustration and should be avoided.
Just like images, optimizing your videos will minimize the impact on your loading time. Load time directly affects your page speed, so streamlining the process is the goal.
Here are some tips for optimizing video for a better page experience:
- Save your videos in a web-supported format like MP4 to prevent problems with playback.
- Relying on older technologies such as JAVA or Flash can have adverse effects, so stay away from those if possible.
- Video metadata and URL should be the same on mobile and desktop, just like your images.
- Lastly, ensure the video can be accessed easily, without much scrolling. The responsive design will most likely determine when the video is seen, so consider the video’s placement to maximize results.
If you need to have separate URLs for mobile and desktop, they should still serve the same content. If an error is given for accessing content from your mobile site, the same error should also be shown for desktop. As search engines may index the mobile more than desktop, you can have issues otherwise.
Fragment URLs that use # characters are often associated with web applications, but they are not indexable. So ensure that the content you expect to be indexed doesn’t rely on fragment URLs. You should ensure that both versions of the site are correctly indexed in search engines, like Google’s Search Console.
If you are using hreflang links, ensure they point to their respective mobile and desktop versions. You should also make sure your hosting can handle the extra load search engines will cause trying to index both versions of the site. Lastly, you should ensure canonical and alternate attributes also point to their respective mobile and desktop versions.
Google offers a service called Safe Browsing that helps its users stay away from any malicious or at-risk websites or download anything suspicious that could potentially damage devices. It covers malware, deceptive pages, as well as harmful and unusual downloads across all device platforms.
Safe Browsing was initially launched in 2007 to protect users from phishing attacks. Since then, it has grown to include useful tools for users to protect themselves from any online threats.
When your website is in the search console, you can review any detected issues to ensure it doesn’t contain anything dangerous. If it does, your site could be blocked from appearing in search results to protect visitors from harm until the hazardous element is removed. Your website should always be within the Safe Browsing guidelines to avoid missing out on traffic.
Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is a protocol for securing the communication between the browser and the web server. An HTTPS site will display a lock icon to the left of the domain in the address field, indicating that a website is secure.
HTTPS is a must for authentication and protection of your sensitive information. It is encrypted to increase security for the safe transfer of personal data like your online banking login or your credit card number.
Many web technologies require HTTPS to operate, such as service workers and push notifications. Without it, anyone can intercept and see your online activity in public places. Since it benefits users, search engines care about HTTPS. The security of HTTPS is guaranteed to help your ranking by providing a safe experience for visitors.
Intrusive popups can bring down your UX, but not all of them will count against you. It is okay to have a pop, dialog, or notice for a legal reason. You are also free to have a login popup where the content is not public. Lastly, banners are also acceptable as long as they are a reasonable size and don’t get in the way.
User experience can get pretty complicated, and we hope you have gained some understanding from this article. By keeping your visitors happy, you increase the chances of gaining even more traffic to your website. Your website’s user experience significantly contributes to your SEO, impacting how your business appears in search results, and should not be overlooked.
Your website is vital to your business, so you expect results, and that’s what our expert team is ready to provide. You’ve seen the importance of delivering a good page experience, now let us help your business! Please fill out the form below to get started!