All major search engines have understood that user experience should be part of their ranking algorithms. This is why user experience drives SEO in 2017 and it is probably going to do it in 2018, as well. This article is going to take a closer look into the way user experience helps to shape the SERPs so that you can gain a better understanding of search engine algorithms.
As far as we know, the authority and the relevance of a web page for a specific topic influence its position in the search for that particular keyword. However, provided that we have two pages with similar authority and relevance, which one should rank higher?
What weighs more when ranking high?
In order to determine the best answer, search engines would look into various parameters that define the user experience. The loading speed of the page is one of these factors. The slower a page loads, the more chances there are that the user leaves it before getting to view its content. The time spent on page is another indicator of a good or bad user experience.
If most visitors of a web page leave it within the first two seconds, that page may not be as interesting or as relevant as initially assessed, so it may get demoted in the SERPs during the next update. If on the contrary, most visitors of a web page tend to spend at least a few minutes on it, this could be a sign of high quality.
Search engines care about their users, so they may want to promote this page to a higher position since they’ve determined it offers a good experience to people landing on it for that specific search.
The bounce rate is another indicator of the user experience. When someone visits a website but exists after viewing one single page, it probably means he or she wasn’t interested in reading other articles on that website. If on the contrary, a visitor views multiple pages in one session, this could be an indicator of the high quality of the content.
The bounce rate is the measure of the number of page views per session for one single visitor. A bounce rate of 100% means that the user has exited the website without visiting anything else than the landing page.
The time spent on page is yet another predictor of a good or poor user experience. The longer someone stays on a page, the more chances are he or she has found interesting information. Since the average attention span of the internet user is under 7 seconds, we can safely assume that they were genuinely interested in reading that copy in detail.
All these factors enable a fairly accurate measurement of the quality of a web page and of the user experience. Since the ultimate goal of search engines is to offer their users the best results possible, they have to make sure they match search queries with the most relevant web pages in their index. Measuring the relevance of a page is very difficult because the user experience is subjective. You can’t define a clear set of criteria to define high-quality content, as there are always going to be users who wouldn’t find that page to be exactly what they were looking for.
What You Should Do to Guarantee High Rankings
Under these circumstances, SEO professionals should track the user experience very carefully, in order to improve the above-mentioned parameters. The bounce rate, the time spent on page and the loading speed are as many levers that enable them to influence the SERPs to their advantage.
They can work closely with their clients for improving the content of their pages, in order to make viewers stay longer on their pages. They can also come up with various tactics to hook up users to visit more than one page per session by adding modules such as related products, related articles or top news.
Special software tools can also be used to determine which are the main points of interest on a specific page and place there the most important call to action for their client. For instance, this SEO crawler can help boost your conversions, visibility, and overall rankings. There are also other SEO tools out there that are designed to do different things depending on what your purpose is.
Lastly, the code can be optimized in order to make it load faster. All these minor adjustments may result in the improvement of their positions in search, being therefore worth implementing.
It’s hard to assess the influence of a better user experience in the overall scheme of things. Nonetheless, Google, at least, has clearly stated user experience plays an important role in their ranking algorithm. For instance, they may favor responsive websites, able to adapt to the screen size and to the device they are viewed on. This is yet another user experience detail to be considered by SEO specialists and by their clients alike.
The year 2017 is all about helping internet users to find the information they search for as quickly as possible.