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.
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.
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.
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.