How to use Google’s insider tips to improve your UX

It wasn’t very long ago that the concepts of SEO and user experience (UX) were entirely unrelated disciplines. Today, however, they are intrinsically linked. Creating a fantastic UX is not only important for boosting conversions and increasing sales – it can also positively affect where your site ranks.

As Justin Aldridge, Technical Director at Artemis, says:

“It makes complete sense. Say the actual result for a search serves up a website in position four, it may actually be the most relevant result for the query, but the website isn’t necessarily the strongest, meaning that it doesn’t rank higher.”

This shows that Google is beginning to understand the difference between a powerful website and one that contains fantastic information. Aldridge clarifies:

“RankBrain can test and see the effects of serving up that website in a higher position. It can then see if users find it more useful than the results the main algorithm would normally serve up before it.”

Only around 55 per cent of companies are conducting UX testing on their website, and this can be a major issue because of how important good UX has become to all aspects of business. In fact, according to Google itself “RankBrain, the AI system introduced as part of Google Search in 2015, works by monitoring the semantics of user queries – and users’ behaviour when they’re presented with results”. This means that it is using every means at its disposal to understand how users want to interact with websites. It is important, then, to start investing more time and effort in UX.

Google’s UX playbooks

Google is so serious about the importance of UX that it made available a range of ‘playbooks’ that help companies to improve their sites. These playbooks cover different types of sites across various industries, including finance, ecommerce, travel, and more. Something that this shows is how different aspects of UX are more important on specific types of site.

It is relatively rare for Google to share very specific advice and guidance on what webmasters should do with their site, so this is definitely worth paying attention to.

So here we will take a look at some of the insights that Google has offered, and examine how they can be used on your site to improve your UX, broken down into important sections for your site:

Homepage and key landing pages

Google places a great importance on the CTAs on your most important landing pages. Google’s top advice here is that you should have descriptive CTAs – in other words, a CTA that explains what will happen when you click – and that your CTAs should be above the fold. Additionally, if phone calls are important to the business it is advised that phone numbers should be click-to-call.

There are also recommendations that automatic carousels and slides should be removed. There is some evidence to suggest that just 1 per cent of users will click on slider or carousel content.

Forms

In terms of optimising forms for a better UX, Google makes simple recommendations – literally. The advice here is to simplify the process as much as possible. Use autofill, reduce the number of fields and mark required fields clearly with an asterisk.

It is also recommended that if you have a dropdown on your form with more than four options, you should instead opt for buttons. Another option is to use steppers, sliders or open field input rather than having dropdowns with a large number of options.

Menu and site navigation

You should show a consolidated menu at all times, and this menu shouldn’t take up more than one fifth of the screen. This consolidated menu should include a hamburger dropdown as well as a store locator button (if your physical location is important). Additionally, for the menu itself, all of the options should be visible on one page, and main product categories should be ordered by traffic volume, while subcategories should be organised alphabetically.

Site search

The site search feature can sometimes be overlooked by webmasters and SEOs, but Google’s UX playbooks reaffirm its importance. It is suggested that including a search feature is essential and that it should be easily visible on the homepage.

It is also considered important that your search feature should include auto-suggestions and spelling corrections, as these can easily return failed results.

Conversions

The Google playbooks also make a number of suggestions for the conversions stage of the customer journey. Interestingly, one of the most important is that sites should not redirect customers to the checkout when they have clicked ‘add to basket’, as this can actually put potential customers off buying.

Additionally, it is important to ensure that customers are able to checkout as guests. This is because more than a third of customers will exit checkout if they find out that they need to create an account in order to buy.

Always A/B test your changes

Finally, it should be noted that when you are coming to make changes to your website in order to improve UX you should ensure that you always A/B test everything you do. This means having two versions of your site and deploying them over a fixed period of time, and then measuring the difference between the two. This can help you to understand whether your changes are having the desired effect.

 

If you would like to learn more about how great web design can improve UX please get in touch with the team at Artemis today. We’re specialists in SEO and UX, and would love to help you get more from your website.


A beginner’s guide to schema markup for SEO

What is schema?

Schema is a type of structured data that allows search engines to better understand a website, page, or elements on a page. Schema markup is code that can be added to a website to define specific types of information and data. The schema allows search engines to understand and display specific pieces of information in the SERPs, known as rich snippets. These rich snippets are visual and can increase click-through rates as they make your web page stand out from others.

Different types of schema

There are hundreds of different types of schema. Which you use will depend on your type of business, what information you have on your website and what you want to promote within the SERPs. Some of the most common types of schema markup include:

  • Organization
  • LocalBusiness
  • Review and AggregateRating
  • Person
  • Q&A / FAQ
  • Products
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Events

What schema should I use?

The type of schema markup you use will be determined by a few factors.

Firstly, your business type. What kind of business you are? If you are a local business mostly serving a geographic area, you should start by using the LocalBusiness schema as this tells Google you operate locally. Whereas if you are an online ecommerce store, you would be more likely to use Organization schema to highlight key contact information.

Secondly, what kind of information do you have on your website? Do you have Q&A or FAQs? Do you have products? Do you have reviews from Google or use a third-party review website like Trustpilot? Do you run courses or events? This information can all be marked up with schema.

How do I generate schema and add it to my website?

Once you’ve decided what information you want to mark up, how do you go about getting the schema code? And how do you add it to your website?

To generate the Schema code, you can go to the Schema.org website and find the type you are looking for. This can be a bit overwhelming, so an easier way to create the code is to use one of the ‘schema markup generator tools’ that are available online – these create the schema for you. There is also a Google markup tool you can use to help create schema based on page items. You can also take a look at one of our previous blog posts by my colleague Sara to see examples of what the schema code actually looks like.

Schema is available in different formats; JSON-LD, Microdata and RDFa. At Artemis we use JSON-LD for all of our clients.

Once you have the code ready, you can test that it works in the Google Structured Data Testing Tool. Run the schema through the code snippet and it will highlight any errors or warnings. Once any errors or warnings have been fixed, you are ready to add the schema to your website. We would recommend testing the schema again once it is live.

You can also monitor schema in Google Search Console, and there have recently been some new reports launched that allow you to keep an eye on the following; FAQ, how-to, events, products, logo, recipes schema and more.

Examples of rich snippets in Google

Here’s a few examples of websites using schema effectively, producing rich snippets in the SERPs:

1. John Lewis using Product and Review schema to highlight price, availability and product rating:

 

2. Into The Blue using FAQ and AggregateRating schema:

 

3. Songkick using event schema for upcoming concerts:

 

4. BBC Good Food using recipe schema:

 

Schema can be a bit fiddly at times, but the more you use it, the easier it gets. If you have any questions about schema or would like some help with adding schema to your website, we’d love to hear from you.


Why does UX matter so much on mobile?

In today’s blog, Artemis SEO Manager Kerry Jones examines website user experience (UX) and takes a closer look at why it matters so much on mobile.

Your website may be responsive, but is it truly mobile-friendly?

With Google’s switch over to mobile first indexing, user experience on mobile devices has become one of the most important factors to consider when optimising a website.

“The limited screen size on mobiles has required a complete rethink as to how content is displayed on websites. Google is adapting its search results based on how mobile pages are set up. As Google’s understanding of how users interact with mobile pages improves, an increased focus on mobile usability is absolutely fundamental for search success going forward. With the Chrome browser, Google has usability data across all pages of a website. Mobile usability is a key factor in 2019.” Justin Aldridge, Technical Director at Artemis

Mobile vs. desktop

With an increasing number of searches performed on mobile vs desktop over recent years, now is definitely the time to take action on mobile to improve it as much as possible.

You might be thinking “how does this apply to me when 80% of my traffic comes from desktop?” Well Google will still index the mobile version of your website first, meaning that desktop rankings are deciphered from mobile and if your website doesn’t provide a good mobile user experience, then your desktop rankings are likely to suffer.

 

How does Google know if a website provides a poor user experience?

Google has access to website usage and engagement statistics, including the average time users spend on page/site, page interactions and bounce rates. If these statistics aren’t as good as your competitors, then Google may favour those better performing websites.

Things to consider on mobile:

  • Does the website load quickly in Wi-Fi as well as 3G and 4G?
  • Is the header condensed for mobile? Or does it take up the whole device landing screen forcing users to scroll down to see content/images?
  • Is the menu visible on all pages? Are all key pages accessible from it?
  • Is content readable or too small?
  • Are contact and sign up forms optimised for mobile?
  • Is the search functionality visible and does it use typing suggestions?
  • Does the website make sure of read more tabs where necessary to prevent endless paragraphs of text?

There are various ways you can review your mobile usability:

  1. Firstly, perform some tasks on your mobile that you would expect your customers to do, for example, adding a product to cart and going through the checkout process, or filling out a contact form to see if there are any obvious issues.
  2. Check for any mobile usability issues reported in Google Search Console. This section will point out instances whereby clickable elements are too close together, where the content has fallen off the screen, plus much more. You can also run the website through the Google Mobile-Friendly
  3. Run a Google Lighthouse report on the website. This will provide speed improvement recommendations as well as accessibility, best practice and SEO considerations.
  4. Set up Hotjar heatmaps to monitor mobile user behaviour and see what people are clicking on and how far they are scrolling down the page. Record users to find any common pitfalls or annoyances. Take a look at our blog post on how to turn visitors into customers on Hotjar here.
  5. Review Google Analytics for high exit pages on mobile devices, then go and check these on mobile to find out why users are leaving the site.

Google’s Playbooks for retail or lead gen websites are great resources to refer to whilst reviewing the UX of a website.

If you’re interested in ensuring your website has a UX that is optimised for mobile, Artemis offers a mobile first audit.