If your website is investing in the latest SEO tactics, you’re probably trying to attract as many visitors as possible. But, no matter how many people show up, no one is going to stay on your website unless it has a fluid design.
While plugging certain keywords into the copy on your home page and getting backlinks are important for search engine optimization, so many business owners simply drop the ball when it comes to web design. No matter how skilled you are when it comes to SEO keyword research and using the right keywords in your meta descriptions and title tags, Google will only reward your efforts if people are actually spending quality time on your website. The search company wants to keep its users happy by directing them to well-thought-out websites with relevant content.
A good SEO consultant knows that, while UX/UI design plays a relatively minor role when you look at the entirety of your SEO campaign, you still need to make sure you’re making your users feel welcome online by designing an attractive, easy-to-use website. That means having a mobile version of your site, keeping your content organized and skimmable, adding visual media, and creating a straightforward menu or navigation system. Let’s take a look at all the ways UX/UI design can affect your website’s search rankings.
Measuring Dwell Time
Dwell time, or the amount of time a person spends on your website, will affect your website’s search rankings. You can access all of this information using Google Analytics or your web host’s analytics data. Dwell time can often get lumped in with some other important metrics like the bounce rate, the number of users that immediately click off your website after landing on a page, and the average duration of all user sessions. As SEO expert Neil Patel writes, having a bounce rate of less than 40% will help you make the right impression on Google’s algorithm. This shows Google that over half of the people that visit your website are finding something of value, so Google will be more inclined to give your website a boost in its search rankings.
You can increase your dwell time by highlighting some of your most popular products on your homepage, writing valuable SEO content, embedding a video, or by using some high-quality imagery. It’s also important to have a strong or call to action that encourages your users to follow through on their visit and dive deeper into the content on your site.
So, what does healthy dwell time look like? Generally, it’s best to shoot for a dwell time of about 2 minutes, but these rates will vary widely based on the services, content, and products your website provides.
Google is also interested in measuring how many users are willing to return to your website. Head over to your Google Analytics page and check out the “Audience Overview” section and you’ll see how many new and returning visitors your site attracts over a certain period. This is often considered the holy grail of website performance metrics. After all, if people are willing to come back to your website, you’re clearly doing something that people like. Of course, you need to focus on attracting new customers, but watching these metrics closely will give you valuable insight into what people think of your website. If it’s slow to load or hard to navigate, you can bet most of your visitors won’t be back for a second helping.
If you run more of a content-publishing website, the majority of your visitors will probably be paying or returning customers looking to get their daily dose of news, but if you run an ecommerce website, only a fraction of your visitors will be returning. To give you a reference point, HubSpot tells us that around 15% of your users should be returning. Even if many of these visitors aren’t buying anything, you’ll be making the right impression on Google by showing them that your website has something of value.
You can encourage more people to return to your website by getting in the habit of updating your content on a regular basis. This is also one of Google’s ranking factors, so make sure that your website always has something new to offer, whether it’s a new product, a special discount, or a rich library of user-generated content.
Using Website Analytics
Now that you know which website analytics to pay attention to, it’s time to start using this information to your advantage. If you’re unimpressed with your website’s current search rankings, try reorganizing the content on your website until your performance metrics improve. You can try experimenting with different layouts and organizational features and see how these changes effect your metrics. You might get more traffic, a lower bounce rate, or more return visitors by adding a snappy video that clearly explains the products and services you offer, creating a poll or a questionnaire, or by simplifying the structure of your site.
According to a new study by Backlinko, adding just one image to a web page can dramatically improve its search rankings. But don’t overwhelm your users with images and other visual content. There is no evidence to support that adding more than one image to a web page will increase traffic or search rankings. It’s all about finding the right balance between your content, visual media, and the products and services you want to sell.
Remember to use Google Analytics and all your website performance data in conjunction with your SEO campaign. Keep focusing on all those SEO tactics, but remember to update your website’s content regularly, use a familiar website layout, and to feature a compelling call to action. Start looking at your website in its entirety and your users will be impressed every time.