15th April 2015

The Importance of UX and Engagement in SEO

Lightbulb on a yellow background

Last Friday 10th April Megan, Ryan, Becky and I from the SEO and Content teams attended Brighton SEO, one of the largest SEO conferences in the UK. The conference takes place twice a year and each time gets more and more popular with marketers from all over the world.

We really enjoyed a particular talk by Stephen Kenwright, who’s Head of Search at Leeds based agency Branded3. His talk emphasised the importance that user experience (UX), and engagement, have on websites ranking in the SERPs.

Mobile update

With the looming Google algorithm update said to be taking place on the 21st April, mobile was a hot topic discussed throughout the day.  Stephen referred to a Google Developers article that suggests measuring the effectiveness of your website by how easily mobile customers can complete tasks. This is something that is currently quite overlooked and we think that more time must to be spent on mobile considerations in order to succeed in the online world. Design, testing (pre and post launch) and on-going monitoring are essential.

How does quality of traffic affect SEO?

Stephen showed us a few examples whereby Google is ranking websites with less quality links higher than others with more quality links due to the quality of their UX.

In March, Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Land tweeted that Google kind of confirmed that “click data” or click through rate from the SERPs is an algorithm ranking factor.

If result 2 in Google is getting 80% of traffic for a keyword, then Google will bump that up to position one. As well as CTR, Google is said to assess the “dwell time” of a user – i.e. how long that user stays on the website, if they click back to the SERPs and then click through to another website and so on. This kind of behaviour is also known as “pogo-sticking”.

User testing

A simple way to to assess the effectiveness of your website on desktop and mobile is to do some user testing. You can do this in a number of ways. There are 2 relatively easy and cost-effective ways that we do this in the BritWeb office:

  1. Set a few tasks (things that you want customers to do on your website, e.g. order an item, submit an enquiry form, find a specific item/service) and ask people that haven’t used the website before for feedback on how they easy (or difficult) they found them.
  2. Use the tool UserTesting.com. This site gives you access to unbiased people who will perform tasks you set on your website and records them taking the tasks. You can choose tester demographics, age and salary, so you can get as close to your target market as possible. There are plenty more tools like this available.

Both of these methods will provide you with valuable and real fixes you can apply to your website. You can also set up A/B tests in Google Analytics to find the best version of a page.

Moral of the story: Google uses UX to improve its search results, therefore SEO = improving UX!

View the full presentation from Stephen here.

To see our tweets throughout BrightonSEO, head over to our Twitter @BritWebLtd.

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