For Google, becoming the world’s most popular search engine has not been a passive endeavour. To remain people’s number one choice, the company has used increasingly complex algorithms that rank the quality of a website or page based on numerous factors. At their heart, these algorithms increasingly serve to assess aspects of website user experience (UX). It’s crucial to remember that your website is not just serving Google bots but people too. This is true whether you’re a small business owner with a website or a large SEO agency.
For as long as there has been SEO there have been those (unfortunately including a shady SEO agency or two!) who have tried to exploit search engine results using black hat SEO tactics. From keyword stuffing to clickbait page titles, these tactics can give your website a temporary boost in search engine results. However, they tend to also get you penalised and cause a total drop in rankings. These techniques are ‘black hat’ because they cause a bad user experience. They could do so by hiding important elements of your website from human eyes, creating a website that is almost impossible to use, or even misleading users. Such malicious tactics quickly put off a user from interacting with a website, so Google understandably wants to avoid giving such websites a spotlight.
How Does Google Tackle Bad UX?
Google doesn’t just use bots to rate web pages anymore. The search behemoth also contracts thousands of Search Quality Evaluators to manually assess search engine results. The evaluators make a variety of searches and rate the websites that show in results pages.
The aspects of a website that are rated include everything from how easy it is to find key information to external reputation elements such as online reviews and news articles. The raters’ feedback may not directly change Google results but is used to finetune their algorithms to combat instances of bad website user experience.
The search raters need to be able to emulate real users in context to be successfully chosen. In Google’s Search Quality Evaluators guideline they state:
“It is very important for you to represent users in the locale you evaluate. You must be very familiar with the task language and location in order to represent the experience of users in your locale.”
This shows how aspects of local SEO also tie into user experience, given that Google aims to serve people in the best way possible by analysing the context of their search.
How to Improve Website User Experience
As an SEO agency, we use a variety of techniques to improve website user experience. By auditing a website and implementing changes in content, structure, and design, we can drastically improve usability, contributing to increasing website traffic and search engine rankings. Here are just a few aspects we look at in relation to user experience:
- Page Speeds
- Page Errors (404s)
- Hyperlink Design
- Use of Headings
- Fonts and Text Layout
- Image Use
- Mobile Friendliness
- Content Readability
Want to find out more about the quality of your website and any possible issues? Use our free SEO audit tool for an instant analysis with actionable results.