Google has fired a warning shot across the bow of worldwide webmasters letting them know that it will be penalising sites that aren’t mobile friendly after 21 April in their next algorithm update.
Most people with a URL to their name, watch for Google’s signals. It acts as a global net-trendsetter and arbiter of search taste so SEO professionals evaluate the signs and then try to predict what factors will be important in future and what won’t.
So I am, in turn, ringing the blog-bell down here to warn digital-kiwis not just about the mobile deadline but also to make sure their site satisfies the other major factors that define a good ‘user experience’.
What is user experience and why is it important?
The term ‘user experience’ was coined by Dr Donald Norman a cognitive science researcher who was also the first person to write about the importance of web design to satisfy the needs and wants of the ‘user’.
User experience or UX is how a person feels when they use a site or system. You know intuitively that it is important for someone to want to enjoy finding and exploring your site and provide an experience that makes them want to return. But how do you know what people want and need? There is much more than guesswork to determining a good UX.
Google is slowly adapting its algorithm to act like a human so that it serves up websites or links that we as searchers find appealing and interesting.
The factors that Google are prioritising in search are the same features that can, if they aren’t done well or ignored, make us switch off our devices, give up on a search or click away. The name of the game is to capture the attention of your audience and make the UX as pleasurable as possible.
What to know our secrets about improving your SEO value and engaging your audience?
The three key ways you can improve your user experience and impress Google are by ensuring your website is mobile-friendly, that it loads quickly (sitespeed) and thirdly that you have engaging content.
These are essential secrets to successful SEO because visitors want to be able to see content quickly on any device, so they can make a decision about whether the content is engaging or not.
Readers want pages to load quickly, text to be sized correctly (so it’s easy to read) and for links to be well spaced. All these elements are at the core of a good user experience.
In our last blog post we went into great detail about how you can diagnose any mobile-friendliness issues you may have with your site and what you can do to fix them.
We discussed the three main methods of making sure your site is easy to read on all devices and encouraged everyone to make these changes before April. Make sure you don’t lose any SEO value your site has accrued as a result of this change.
If you aren’t sure whether your site is mobile-friendly, use this handy tool from Google to diagnose any issues. Or check out this handy infographic to help you through the responsive design process.
The second component of good UX is sitespeed. We all get bored quickly and want to see fast results. The longer a page takes to load the less likely we are to wait for the content and the less satisfied we are if content isn’t awesome.
Get out to some free internet hotspots and see if the pages all load in a reasonable time frame. Check and see what it looks like on a number of different devices. Mimic reality as closely as you can to see what your user will experience – is it doing what you need it to or giving you what you want?
Also make sure you test the option you choose to make your site mobile-friendly for site speed. You want your new mobile-friendly site content to load quickly so that visitors don’t click away while they wait. Do the tests in a number of different environments, not just in your office with high speed wifi.
Picking the right method to adapt your site to devices will ensure you provide a good user experience, quality design that loads quickly and engages a visitor.
Finding and delivering engaging content has always been Google’s main goal and it is getting cleverer and cleverer at enabling its bots to discern between good and bad quality content just like a person. Bots scan the content and serve up results based on what is most accurate, timely, or interesting.
They prioritise images and video for visual subject matter and determine how often content has been shared along with 300 plus other factors (making a decision on quality much quicker than a human would) and giving people want.
This is why image based content like infographics and videos are so popular, people love them, we find it the most entertaining and engaging way to digest information.
Try creating an infographic, post a slideshare, pin some images or start a vlog (video blog) but make sure you optimise the content – see our blogpost with some tricks to optimise video for YouTube.
Engaging content can be textual too and keywords are still an important element of every site. But visitors want a variety of fresh content so mix up your regular blog with a video or image post now and then to attract a wider audience into your channel.
Ask yourself is it…..?
All the facets of a good user experience are cumulative, so don’t do one, or do one incorrectly and you can impact another. Get the method to make your site mobile-friendly wrong and you can negatively impact sitespeed. Load your content incorrectly you can slow your sitespeed down too.
Find the right balance between substance, size, style and speed and you will have hit the user experience sweet spot. Remember to consider the three secrets to successful SEO (mobile optimisation, sitespeed, engaging content) holistically to get the best bang for your bucks.