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The Future of SEO – Why Embracing UI/UX is the Need of the Hour.
Are you getting significant bounce rates on your websites? Is your website slow to respond? Is your potential customer getting frustrated navigating through the website and is ultimately failing to complete the journey you’ve mapped?
It’s possible that your website isn’t properly optimized for providing the best experience possible.
There are multiple reasons why you should make sure these issues are resolved promptly as not doing so might result in you losing out on a bunch of new customers.
“8 out of 10 customers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience”, states a study conducted by Capgemini meanwhile 70% of Customers abandon purchases due to bad user experience, as reported by Spiralytics.
As search engines continue to evolve with Google rolling updates every now and then on how it ranks web pages for SEO, special emphasis is starting to be put on the importance of a well-optimized website. You might think,
“But I am already optimizing my website for on-page SEO, keeping track of broken links, 404 Errors”?
However, there’s one aspect that you might not be taking into consideration; the need to embrace UI/UX and tying it down to all of your SEO strategies.
See, the two go hand-in-hand.
Getting to Terms with UI/UX?
According to UX Planet, the term UI stands for “User Interface” which consists of the clickable buttons, images, essentially any items the user can interact with.
On the other hand, UX stands for “User Experience” which relates to how a user feels about a particular website;
- Are his interactions smooth?
- Does the page provide a clear navigational pathway?
- Are there any jitters or stutters negatively hampering a user’s ability to navigate a website?
- Is the purchase process too complex?
- Do the various elements make it difficult to understand what your website is portraying?
Simply put, UI/UX aims to optimize the overall experience of a visitor who interacts with the various elements on the website to complete an objective. In the case of the visitor, this might be buying a product or signing up for a newsletter. In the UI/UX designer’s case, it’s to provide a smooth and satisfying experience.
How can UI/UX and SEO Mesh Together?
The importance of a well-constructed website has never been this much valued in the world. The goal isn’t just to get visitors to your website. It’s to make them coming back for more.
If the elements of your website don’t work in harmony and the user experience falters at any stage, it can lead even the most interested customer to back out and seek out alternatives. (Sucks, doesn’t it?)
Let’s demonstrate it through one simple example:
You are an athleisure company that prides itself on selling clothing made from recycled materials. You have everything from sports bras to compression shorts.
A visitor searches for “men’s compression shorts” and finds your site in the search results. He clicks on your website but it takes more than 3 seconds to load. He ponders leaving but rebounds.
Once the page loads, the visual elements on the screen start stuttering while the images just don’t seem to load properly. He can’t seem to find the Men’s section as apparently, you have a sidebar that can only be opened by clicking on it but your color scheme makes it difficult for him to spot it.
He tries to use the drop-down menu under the Men’s section to open the Compression-wear section but the clickable button doesn’t click. So, he takes the second route, clicks on the Men’s section, and then filters down to the Compression-wear. He clicks on the product he wants and tries to open the images but they don’t. He tries to go back to the Compression-wear area but it redirects him to the Men’s product category and he has to click on the section again to get to it.
Frustrated, he clicks on the product he wants and tries to view the images which don’t load. Another setback! He tries to read the size chart and information about the materials used but the color scheme and fonts are all shabby and don’t make it clear. Nevertheless, he selects the size and color and proceeds to review the order but it takes him straight to shipping and taxes.
He inputs all of his information but then, is bombarded by multiple upsells. He clicks past all the upsells but lo and behold, as soon as he checks out, he’s shown an order with additional items he thought he had canceled.
This is the final nail in the coffin for him as he promptly sends an email to your customer service demanding a refund, his sentences outpouring anger, and emotion.
Now, this might be an overly exaggerated example but you get the point. The whole experience of getting to your website and purchasing a product/service is very crucial in the eyes of the search engine, hence it directly impact SEO.
Having a website with jittery elements or a complex user journey can lead to a lower dwell time, which can lead to a user not wanting to visit your website ever again.
If the website isn’t clear with what it intends the user to do, that can lead to users getting confused about your product/service, getting lost while navigating the website, and as Google can track user activity, this can lead to a lower quality score for your website.
Google Webmaster’s basic guideline sums it up best:
“Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines”.
Impact of the UI/UX – SEO Harmony on Your Website
While the benefits of having a website optimized for SEO and UI/UX cannot be quantified to an exact figure, it will force your business to adopt a customer-first mindset. We have to stress here that your website doesn’t exist to show your customers what you want them to see, rather to what they want to see.
Studies have shown that a well-designed website will provide a positive user experience which in turn leads to a better dwell time and even keep your customers coming back for more. The search engine sees this as a positive sign i.e. your company is providing great value, and it will favor your website in search results.
Neil Patel, in his 9 User Experience Pitfalls explains that people not only remember bad online experiences but share that message with their friends too. This can potentially lead to a “domino effect” where one user shares his story with another and it continues like that, depriving your business, hundreds, if not, thousands of potential prospects.
Aesthetics are good for attracting prospects, but they need to be functional in order to retain them.
Looking at SEO, the search engines will see high bounce rates or dwell time as red flags and this may result in a low standing of your website, in the eyes of the search engine.
Note: A website optimized for SEO is worthless if it fails to answer the demands of its users.
Elements that can Disrupt a Good User Experience
Have you ever visited a website and while browsing, you’re blasted with an annoying Pop-up for a discount? Do you get annoyed by those websites utilizing bags upon bags of advertisements?
All these are elements of a bad User Experience. It’s not a bad thing to use pop-ups or advertisements as both of them are ways to monetize your website. But there is both a good and a bad way to do it.
Websites that cover their websites with lots of advertisements appear overly spammy and salesy to the visitor which can lead to that customer bouncing off and never coming back.
Pop-ups are a good way to offer discounts or to get visitors to sign up for a newsletter but you have to make sure it doesn’t interrupt the user experience. Make sure that they don’t appear on every webpage and make it as clear as you can for a user to opt out of that pop-up.
A slow website is another element that would disrupt the user experience as the visitors might leave the website before even starting their journey. Kissmetrics’ Analytics states that a whopping 40% of visitors leave a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
Other elements like unresponsive buttons, clickbaity content, and unclear information will also badly affect the user experience which would hurt your brand’s perception in the eyes of your visitors.
Some simple steps you can take to Make Sure Your Website Takes care of your Visitors
There are hundreds of steps you can take to make sure your website is fully optimized. But just like Human beings, no website is ever going to be perfect. As the site ages and the maintenance on it increases, there can be several things you might miss out on, or simply can’t identify.
However, there are a few simple you can take to make sure your site provides the optimal user experience:
If your website is taking more than 3 seconds to load, you’re in uncharted territories and should take action. You can use a free tool like Google’s PageSpeed Insights to identify the areas you need to work on.
If you are writing blogs for your customers as well, with lots of images and perhaps YouTube embeds, make sure to compress all the images that you use. This will help load images much faster which, in turn, leads to a faster page speed.
Also, remove any unused code that might come into play when the site loads. Depending on your needs, you can also choose to use a CDN or “Content Distribution Network“.
A Content Distribution Network (CDN) is a network of servers distributed across the world that is used primarily to reduce delays in page loading.
While this might not seem like a big element of user experience, having clear, understandable meta tags will go a long way into building trust between you and your potential customers.
Instead of having clickbaity titles that lure visitors in and then don’t provide value, instead focus on filling your meta tags with as much information as you can about the content you are sharing.
Remember, the goal isn’t just to attract customers to your website, it’s to retain them and keep them coming back for more.
Nobody likes a website where the clickable buttons don’t respond or where the visual elements just don’t load up. Make sure all the graphical elements on your website are functional, that they provide a clear way to navigate the website and that they respond to user inputs.
If your homepage is loaded with images or videos, make sure the size of the files is appropriate so that it loads up in time. Make it a habit to include alt-texts underneath all your graphical elements.
Think from the perspective of your customer; what would you do when the site loads up? How would you feel if the “shop now” button doesn’t work?
According to Statista, the percentage of mobile users has stayed consistent at over 50%, and as more and more brands come into play plus as mobiles continue to get powerful, we might see an age where we wouldn’t even need to use our Laptops as our mobiles will have enough computing power to cater to the majority of our tasks.
Keeping this in mind, make sure that your website is “responsive” in the sense that it can handle the differences between mobile, laptops, and desktop computers.
This approach to web design is known as “Responsive Web Design” which means that websites are dynamic and can adapt to the screen size and orientation of different devices, including mobiles, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers.
Provide Clear Navigation
Your website might have the best colors out there. Your product might be the best in the market. But all of that hard work would go to waste if the website is unclear on what it wants the user to do.
Now, you might have optimized the site for SEO with a clear hierarchical structure, but it has to be optimized for the visitors as well. Focus on making the various elements on your website easy to scan and easy to access.
Your branding should be on point as well; using colors that are too bright or too dark might make it difficult for the user to scan the website properly.
If there are any pages with 404 errors, make sure there are clear cues for the reader to access other, relevant information. If you’re writing blog content, make sure to include any relevant links that might provide additional information to the reader.
As stated above, there are tons of other optimizations you can choose to make. This list will provide a solid baseline to start from.
You should keep in mind that with any future endeavors, you need to keep not just the ‘search engine in mind, but primarily your customers’.
The customer will not adapt to the search engine, it goes the opposite way. So, all the efforts you make to optimize your website should focus on the customers and what would make them feel confident about you.