Understanding User Experience Impact on Website Performance
The way Google assesses websites is constantly changing and User Experience (UX) has become one key ranking factor for the Google Search Engine. Logically, you can understand that Google itself faces competition and is very concerned about how best it should serve its customers and stay ahead of competition. One important aspect of this decision is to ensure that users are served with the best search results not only in respect of the answers they provide to user queries but the usability and performance of the websites they are referred to from the search results.
So, as Google continues to boost its search quality by adding new tools and features for developers, user experience has become a key factor for SEO. In this post, we will further explain how website performance and User Experience can affect your rankings in search engine result pages (SERPs) and how they are measured.
Read our full website performance guide on How to Optimize Your Website to Boost User Experience
What is User Experience?
The phrase, ``User Experience is sometimes called "Page Experience" and abbreviated UX. It would be understood as a visitor's first impression of your website. From its design, to usability, it should build trust and confidence in users. This will cover its speed, ease of navigation and whether users can find good answers to the questions they asked. In one study by Todhost, we found that page speed had the strongest impact on website bounce rates.
Importance of User Experience
There are several reasons you should take user experience seriously for SEO. Here is a short list of the things you have to gain by doing it right and boosting your website user experience.
- Ease of Use: The easier it is to navigate your site, the better will be its UX rating. When your website is difficult to use, it causes confusion and could compel users to abandon it and move to your competitors' websites. So, in designing your website, make navigation an important focus and as such as possible, it should be able to navigate your entire website from every landing page. Ease of navigation can also help to build your website credibility, authority, and trust among potential customers.
- Increase Revenue: Trust and confidence which comes with good user experience also brings in more traffic and revenue. Good user experience will make your website more attractive, bring in more visitors who will likely patronize you and turn in more revenue. You can check our detailed tutorial on how to increase traffic to your website.
- Lower Support Costs: Good user experience reduces customer complaints and that invariably reduces the cost of support. Imagine that your website users have no issues with the ordering process, accessing the content they seek and can easily use your website without requesting support or additional guides. That reduces the pressure on your support staff and also reduces the need you could have for additional support time and costs.
- Increase Interaction: Websites that have built in good user experience considerations in their design experience better interactions. Users get easy navigation and every function is accessible making interaction enjoyable. When combined with good page speed, customers develop greater confidence in the website and can go as far as placing orders, subscribing to newsletters and bookmarking the page.
- Improve Customer Retention: Trust and credibility comes with a lot of benefits including customer retention. Websites that offer good customer experience tend to retain their customers with higher interaction rates, improved business communications and customer loyalty. When customers are satisfied, they become loyal and trust the website as a credible source to make their purchases and also become sales agents through referrals.
- Avoid Waste of Resources: Poor user experience can lead to a waste of resources. Poor user experience contributes to customer loss, increased customer support time and more resource usage and waste of resources.
Lower development and training costs: Having an intuitive user-friendly interface from the very beginning can help avoid future problems, such as struggling with page speed issues, correcting errors with navigation elements, adjusting the design so that it is more functional, or erasing useless functions and features. A well-designed interface causes fewer problems for website owners and can save you additional resources in maintenance costs and time.
Also read:: 13 Mistakes That Can Hurt Your SEO Efforts
Key Considerations in Designing Website User Experience
Here are the key principles that should guide the design of your user experience elements for your website:
- Simple Design: The simpler, the better is the rule. Make your interface as simple and clear as possible using unambiguous language and avoiding confusion.
- Consistency is key: Be consistent in your communication throughout your website to help users understand you easily about how your site works and how to use it optimally.
- Easily navigable menus: Menus are key elements of navigation. Make them easy to navigate and remember that the way you use menu links can help your website ranking. We recommend that as much as possible, try to make your sub menus accessible from the main menu.
- Adequate typography: We suggest a careful test on the different typographies and going for the one that best serves your purpose.
- Colors and textures: Test combinations that fit your color and communication. Use color rightly because they can affect perception, draw attention, trust and confidence in your website.
- User control: Build our website to help users control their actions and correct their mistakes like cancelling a mistaken order, cross checking an order before making payment, cancelling a form and so on. The flexibility of your user control elements can go a long way to improve usability for your website and encourage desired response from website users.
- Accessibility: Check to confirm that every element of your website is accessible to users and no hidden elements that appear deceptive exist. That transparency is necessary when dealing with impersonal services through websites because users make judgements from what they see.
Read our full website performance guide on How to Optimize Your Website to Boost User Experience.
How Google Assesses User Experience
Google uses a series of metrics to evaluate page experience as a ranking signal, issuing a Page Experience report with a summary that will help websites offer a better experience for users. The Page Experience report uses the following criteria:
Core Web Vitals
The Core Web Vitals report gauges the responsiveness, speed, and stability of how a page loads. Google issues these results in the Core Web Vitals report via Search Console.
SEO Best Practices for Improving Core Web Vitals
Google has created the Page Speed Insights tool for web developers to provide a score and pinpoint areas where they can improve site performance. User experience, load speed, interactivity, and visual stability all contribute to your performance score. This page speed test helps to minimize bounce rate by considering the importance of user experience.
Making the appropriate changes can help decrease the load speed and, in turn, encourage more user interactivity. Page experience signals include mobile-friendliness, secure HTTPS, and intrusive interstitials, alongside what Google considers to be the “core web vitals”.
There are three main signals used to measure the page experience and performance in Google’s Page Speed Insights tool. (Core Web Vitals include a blue badge).
Largest Contentful Paint
This is how long it takes for the largest element on the page to load. These are generally headers, images, or large sections of text. Anything above the fold that is seen immediately when opening the page. The largest content should load in less than 2.5 seconds to receive a good score.
How to Improve Page Speed
We have a detailed article on how to improve your page speed performance in the article: A Practical Guide to Page Speed Improvement. Here is our basic advice on the first steps you need to take to boost your page speed performance.
- Optimize Images. Images account for a large size of most websites. If you use images on your site, then ensure that they are properly optimized. We use Photoshop to edit our images and save them for the web. Furthermore, we compress images with our favourite free online tool, Compress-or-die, which we have found to be one of the most effective image compressors on the internet.
- Use Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP): Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages are the fastest pages you can find. They are superb and can come with lots of advantages for speed and ranking performance in search engine results.
- Consider a CDN: Content Delivery Networks (CDN) serve pages from the server location closest to the computer from where the query is made. In other words, it serves your pages from the location nearest to the user and that makes the page faster in terms of delivery. CDN also has been advantageous for serving images and other resources.
- Use Well Coded Themes: Most of the time, poorly coded themes can be a problem for your website speed. You need to check that your codes are decent, your themes are bought from certified vendors and they are not cumbersome to compromise site speed,
- Use a Fast Web Host: The capacity of your web host can play a significant role for your website speed. Slow servers will constitute a huge problem no matter how much effort you put into optimization.
First Input Delay
First Input Delay measures the interaction between users and your sites. This measurement identifies how long your page takes to respond to visitors, such as scrolling through the page or interacting with click-able buttons. The ideal first input delay should be as quick as 100 milliseconds.
Cumulative Layout Shift
In some cases, your page content may shift on the page while loading, which can be disruptive for users. Shifting content can often be attributed to coding issues. Aligning content specifically and adjusting font and image attributes can help to prevent ads, embeds, and other content from pushing your content further down the page.
Google requires that pages be served over HTTPS to qualify as a Good page experience. HTTPS relies on encryption technology to create secure connections between a user’s browser or app, and your website.
Although not the strongest ranking signal, Google has suggested that it may become more prominent in the future. It is highly suggested sites switch from HTTP to HTTPS to provide more secure web browsing.
Google will only grant a good page experience status to a page if it has no errors in mobile usability. Google details any such errors in the Mobile Usability report via Search Console.
A non-mobile-friendly site may have inappropriate text size and are difficult to view on mobile devices. Often pages that aren’t mobile-friendly will load the wider desktop version. This means users must scroll horizontally to read the content, creating a poor user experience on mobile and can contribute to a high bounce rate. As Google uses mobile-first indexing for crawling websites, optimising for mobile-friendliness is key to SEO.
Google can detect both pop-ups and standalone interstitials on a page that make content difficult for users to access. Google introduced the intrusive interstitials penalty in 2017, providing guidelines for acceptable and unacceptable intrusive pop-ups.
An example of an unacceptable intrusive interstitial is a large pop-up advertisement that blocks most page content. Interstitials such as cookie usage disclaimers, age verification, and smaller banners that don’t intrude on the content will not affect rankings in search engine results.
The critical takeaway here is that page experience is a Google ranking factor and that is sufficient reason to take it seriously. Overall, website performance and user experience are closely related and it is unlikely for a website to get the top ten ranking if it neglects UX metrics like mobile friendliness, page speed, ease of navigation and other critical metrics all of which will affect usability and bounce rates for a website. Website performance and user experience have become more prominent in SEO.
Google updates its search algorithm to emphasize these UX metrics and wants users to see results that are useful and pleasant to them. So, sites with poor UX performance will show high bounce rates and are unlikely to rank high in the Google search engine results.
The time it takes for your on-page content loads will factor into whether users wish to spend more time on the page while impacting the crawling and indexing for search engines.
In a nutshell, if you want to ramp up your ranking quite speedily, then improve on UX metrics.