Search engines reward sites that are user friendly, which means they have high usability. Google favours sites that are not only rich in keywords, but also demonstrate user engagement.
SEO ranking improves when visitors stay on your site longer, view more pages, and repeat their visits. The more user-friendly your site is, the more likely this is going to happen.
Let’s have a look at the elements that not only increase usability on your site, but also help improve SEO ranking:
1. Useful, high quality, relevant content
“Dwell time” is the amount of time visitors spend on your website and it can affect SEO ranking.
When you provide useful content, visitors tend to stay longer on your website to consume the information and therefore increase the dwell time.
Based on this research, content between 2,000 – 2,500 words seems to rank the highest in search engine results.
Although word count doesn’t rule the SEO world – nobody will read your stuff if it’s not helpful to them – longer content does give you the opportunity to provide more value, include more keywords, incorporate more outbound links, and of course, get people to spend more time reading to increase dwell time.
Another reason to create highly useful content is that when visitors bookmark your content on Chrome, it will improve SEO ranking of your website in Google.
2. Page load speed
Both Google and Bing take page-loading speed into account in their website ranking algorithm. Users may leave your site if they have to wait even just an extra few seconds for each page to load. There are many ways to increase page load speed, some of which include using a caching plug-ins, making sure the code is clean and streamlined, optimizing image sizes, reducing the number of plug-ins, and minimizing redirects.
3. Image optimization
Besides image file format and sizing, there are other ways to make sure your images are working hard for you on the SEO front.
You can signal relevancy of your content to search engines by using keywords for your image file name, alt tag, title, description and caption.
4. Header tags
Good formatting of your content helps improve the user experience of your website tremendously. It makes readers more willing to spend time to read your content and come back for more, which will ultimately signal your relevancy to search engines. Proper use of header tags can help break up your content into sections that are easier to read and utilize.
5. Outbound links
To make your content more useful and relevant, you can link out to authority sites for more in-depth information your readers can use. Linking out to well-respected authority sites will not only increase the relevancy of your content and time readers spend on your site, but it is also believed to send trust signals to Google and improve SEO ranking.
However, more is not necessarily better. Too many outbound links can be distracting and make the content hard to get through.
6. Different multimedia
Images, videos, slideshows and audio can help enrich the user experience and allow you to deliver information in a way that is most suited to your ideal site visitors.
They also act as a signal of quality content to search engines… after all, you have put in the work to make your content look good and interactive! Video marketing has become an increasingly integral element in driving user engagement and conversion.
7. Broken links
Who wants to get a 404 page after clicking on a link? Broken links make for bad usability. Not only that, search engines consider a large number of broken links as a signal of an old, neglected site and this can impact your SEO ranking.
Even if you have a well-educated audience, they probably don’t want to be deciphering a PhD dissertation every time they visit your website and read your content. You don’t want them to give up reading your content and click away because it’s too difficult to digest.
Making your content easy to read and understand helps make it useful to your readers. Some experts also believe that Google takes readability into account when ranking webpages.
9. Layout and formatting
Proper formatting and a user-friendly layout can help improve user experience and make your content easy to scan and digest, so your readers will stay on your site longer and consume your website’s information.
Formatting can help dramatically improve a webpage’s usability by making the content easy to read:
- Use font size and typography that are easy to read.
- Use bold type and colors – sparingly and strategically – to call out important information and make the content easy to scan.
- Use short paragraphs and ample line spacing in between – nobody likes a wall of text.
- Use bulleted or numbered lists for clarity.
- Use techniques such as sliders, tabs, progressive layouts, structured grids, modal windows, rollover elements, accordions and mega drop-down-menus to organize content and add interactivity.
- Break up content into sections with subheads. Proper use of header tags that include keywords also helps improve SEO ranking.
10. Contact us page
According to this Google document websites that have sufficient contact information are considered to be more trust-worthy and therefore may rank higher by search engines.
Including a Contact Us page on your website and putting the link in the navigation not only makes for good user experience (especially if you have an ecommerce site) but can also potentially earn you some Google juice.
It’s found that a well-designed contact form increases user participation in a company’s online presence. It also helps generate new business opportunities, capture new leads, improve customer service, and more.