How improving your UX improves your SEO

‘How do I rank higher on Google?’ That’s the million-dollar question. And as you’ve probably guessed, there’s no definitive answer.
As Head of Digital Growth here at Tangent, my advice is always to keep up with changes to Google’s algorithm to give the Google Bot what it’s looking for.
And right now, what Google wants is to create exceptional experiences for its users. Ultimately, that’s what Google has always strived to achieve.
The latest algorithm update is known as Core Web Vitals, and it specifically focuses on user experience.
With new page experience signals being absorbed into the existing algorithm, it’s clear that UX is becoming increasingly important in terms of SEO.

Great page experiences enable people to get more done and engage more deeply; in contrast, a bad page experience could stand in the way of a person being able to find the valuable information on a page. By adding page experience to the hundreds of signals that Google considers when ranking search results, we aim to help people more easily access the information and web pages they’re looking for, and support site owners in providing an experience users enjoy.
Sowmya Subramanian - Chrome Team
So what should you be focusing on? Here are three areas of UX that I think will have the biggest impact on ranking. They could help to drive higher quality leads to your site while boosting conversions.

1. Page speed

There’s a bit of irony here with page speed.
On the one hand, Google values interactive experiences. It likes rich media.
But now, the Google Bot expects sites to incorporate audiovisual elements AND have pages load quickly.
In my recent post on four things that harm your conversion rate, I showed why unless your page loads in a few seconds, you’ll lose customers.
To sum up - speed is important for users, which means that it’s important to Google. Their research shows that a 1-3 second delay increases bounce rate by 32%, rising to 106% for a 1-6 second delay.
According to Google, when people have a slow experience;
“They're much less likely to find what they are looking for or purchase from you in the future. For many sites, this equates to a huge missed opportunity, especially when more than half of all visits are abandoned if a mobile page takes over 3 seconds to load.”
This is why speed has been a part of Google’s ranking algorithm since 2010. But now, with the launch of Core Web Vitals, sites with a first input delay of 300ms+ are set to be penalised. This brings us on nicely to…

2. Core Web Vitals

Core Web Vitals is a new set of metrics introduced by the Chrome Team. They’re used to assess and evaluate the on-site experience in terms of speed. These assessments are used to determine your ranking.
The three Core Web Vitals are:
  • First input delay – how long a website takes to generate a response to a user action
  • Largest contentful paint – how long it takes for the page’s largest visual to load
  • Cumulative layout shift – the degree to which visual elements shift during loading
The last vital is the one that I’m most interested in at the moment. This is where I anticipate there’ll be the most challenges, so I’ve been making sure our clients are ready to navigate this particular problem.
  1. Accessibility
As our Creative Director Sam and QA Manager Andy, covered in their powerful article on why accessibility really does matter;
“Accessibility can make your web content faster and easier to consume as well as ranking higher on search engines. It can even deliver a return on investment.”
Moz has developed an incredibly comprehensive guide to accessibility that you may find useful.
As a starting point, I recommend focusing on overlaps. These are things that can help you to a) improve SEO directly, and b) improve SEO through enhancing the user experience.
Aspects to consider include site structure, formatting, and non-textual elements.
Ideally, what you should be aiming for is to design a site that will meet accessibility best practise while ticking Google algorithm boxes.
Of course, doing so will also provide an excellent on-site experience that will help your overall conversions.

Everybody wins

Of course, there’s much, much more to UX and SEO than this. However, these three aspects act as a pretty good starting point.
If you have confidence that your site loads quickly, is easy to navigate, and is accessible, you can congratulate yourself.
You’re doing what you can to keep both your users and Google Bot happy – giving your business an extra competitive advantage in the process.