As website quality becomes increasingly influential in buying decisions and serves as a component of search rankings, the design of websites, value of content provided and overall ease of use factor heavily into search standing and conversion likelihood. All elements of a site must be considered by marketers and developers as even the best, most engaging site content can be offset by a poorly designed or slow website.
What is user experience?
A basic breakdown of the site factors that influence user experience (also referred to as UX), includes:
- the value of original content published on the site
- the integration of relevant features on content pages
- the intuitiveness of navigation across the site
- the ease of navigation across the site
- the load time of the site
- the frequency of broken links or 404 errors
- the overall design of the site, in terms of aesthetically pleasing elements and utility
All of this factors into user experience. A streamlined, easy-to-use website will keep users engaged and allow them to find new content easier. Beyond that, converting should be as easy as locating articles, videos or whatever other forms of content are on a website. If it requires any contemplation or struggle to place an order, subscribe to a newsletter or request more information, the prospect is more likely to abandon their conversion.
User experience and SEO
Certain elements of user experience impact sites’ search performance. For example, page speed doesn’t affect most websites since a majority load easily. However, Google’s Matt Cutts said that approximately one in 1,000 websites struggle with this aspect of web development and see their sites dip in search rankings due to a generally poor user experience.
Other issues that can impact a site for poor user experience revolve around mediocre interaction metrics and cloaking – the practice of using high-volume terms in URLs and metadata that have nothing to do with the actual site content – which generally drops a site down search rankings.
User experience in content marketing
Developing a website with strong user experience in mind requires developers and content writers to think like prospects.
Google’s Matt Cutts estimates 1 out of every 100 search results is affected by site load times. The implication is clear: If a site’s content doesn’t display quickly, it doesn’t matter how good its content is.
At the basic level, content should deliver what its meta descriptions promise. For example, should a prospect arrive on a website after search for a specific term, the landing page must deal specifically with that term, issue or trend related directly. Related posts and calls to action should be present to provide more information or allow for quick conversion.
Stuffing a page with keywords that don’t pertain to the overall site content will inevitably lead to a poor user experience. Moreover, Google has taken measures against this, allowing users to block websites that don’t answer their queries when they bounce back to SERPs. While this will defend most against spam, it’s likely that frustrated users will select the block option if they see a poorly designed or confusing website.
Web design and UX
Design layout – particularly with respect to placement of original content versus advertisements – can play a similar role in a poor user experience. Most on the web understand that ads are just a part of website, but excessive ads or those that interfere with site interaction will lead a poor experience.
Site speed also impacts user experience – and, in some cases, businesses’ bottom line. For instance, Amazon supposedly loses 10 percent conversion probability for every additional 100ms of page load time.
Ultimately, it comes down to creating an experience where locating, navigating and interacting with a website as simple as possible. Eliminating as many steps as possible to make this a reality will make user experience positive and build a site’s trust.
Click the examples below to see how site redesigns have boosted content marketing efforts: