One of the main goals of all websites is to get onto the first page of the search engine results page, or SERPs. Search engines assess websites to rank them in order of which will be of most benefit to the searcher. There are many things which influence how a search engine ranks a website, such as the keywords within the content, the domain, on page optimization and user experience(UX). Some sites, unfortunately, focus on making the site perfect for the search engine, and not the user, although research suggests that the search engines are considering the user experience to be a very important factor in how they rank their sites. There are a number of things that search engines look for to decide on the user experience.
The loading speed is the first consideration. As the user experience begins from the moment the searcher clicks on the link on the SERP, the loading speed of the page is very important. According to one study by Kissmetrics blog, users are likely to close a page that takes longer than ten seconds to load. The study also found that the optimum loading time is three seconds. Every second after those three seconds results in a 7% loss of sales. Pagespeed insight tools can measure how quickly a page loads, and there are steps that can be taken to make a page load faster. Any images on the page should be optimized for quick loading, adding a caching plugin, and adding a site index to the database can all help to speed up the loading. For online storefronts, shopify can help increase the loading speed while allowing users to make secure and safe purchases.
Another aspect that search engines take into account for user experience is the navigation of the site. Heather Palmer,interface designer at Vancouver SEO, believes that if a site has overly complicated navigation, users are likely to leave the site to find a less complicated one. As a general rule, sites should have four to six categories, a page for contact information, and an ‘About Us’ page. Users tend to prefer sites with a menu designed so that it takes only two clicks to get to the page that they want. They tend to think of sites which need more than two clicks to be complicated. However, having links to other site pages on relevant keywords within content can help to keep navigation simple.
Search engines are assessing sites for how they respond on mobile devices. Users are accessing websites on their mobile devices and they expect the same level of performance that they would have had if they accessed the site on a PC. It’s believed that the mobile responsiveness of a site is one of the key factors of Google’s site ranking algorithm, and sites that are not optimized to be mobile friendly are not as highly ranked as those that are. In fact, 51% of users have reported having problems with sites freezing, crashing, and other performance failure issues. However, there are tools which can provide valuable insights into how mobile responsive a site is. If there are issues, then there are steps which can be taken to improve performance. For example, wordpress has a variety of mobile friendly templates, or a web developer can use CSS3 Media Queries to code the maximum width and make the site more mobile friendly.
Search engines are constantly changing and updating the algorithm that they use for site assessment. While the algorithms take some 200 factors into account when they examine a site, one of the most recent updates to the Google algorithm prioritizes mobile friendly sites over others. Most search engines tend to follow Google’s example, and it is thought that the user experience is now one of the biggest factor in how a site ranks on all search engines. This is why a site should be optimized for the user, and not just the search engine.