How Usability & User Experience Affect Rankings

SEO and User Experience

Welcome to chapter 6 of the beginners guide to SEO. In this chapter you’ll learn about how usability & user experience affect rankings.

In this guide to search engine optimization we cover the following:

Introduction to SEO

How Search Engines Work

How People Interact With Search Engines

Why Search Engine Marketing Is Necessary

How to Create a Search Engine Friendly Website

How to Conduct Keyword Research

Why You Should Focus on User Experience?

How To Get Backlinks

Search Engine Tools and Software

Fake News Around Search Engines

How To Track the Success of your SEO Campaign

Now, lets get into it.

Why You Should Focus on User Experience?

The whole purpose of search engines is to actively try and present the most relevant results to the user.

Search engines may not always get this right.


They have a good idea of the kinds of web pages that will answer the searchers queries.

These sites normally have somethings in common:

  • Good quality content, that is relevant to the search query and provides valuable information.
  • Designed with both the user and search engines in mind.
  • Easy to navigate.

Knowing how usability & user experience impact rankings, can help your website stay relevant in the eyes of the search engines.

What is user experience design?

web-design-How Usability & User Experience Affect Rankings

Even though search engines are incredibly sophisticated, they are still no match when it comes to processing information and data like humans can.

Not yet anyway!

So if you have content on your site that is in the format of an image or video, make sure you have good meta information that goes along with it. Meta information is what search engines use to help them to determine the quality of the content.

Poor usability & user experience can lower rankings

Search engines are only influenced by a handful of ranking factors directly, like backlinks, keywords, and site structure, just to name a few.

However, there are other factors search engines take into considerations when trying to decipher the value of a web page.

By looking at common patterns made by the user, search engines take a look at metrics like engagement by the user, to get a better idea about a site.

Usability and user experience are also one of the factors search engines take into consideration.

These indirect metrics allow search engines to measure the popularity of a website, and determine which web page is of higher quality.

Designing your website with the audience in mind, will encourage engagement from the user in the format of comments, return visits, links etc.

All this will result in higher rankings.

Signs of quality content:

Engagement: When a web page is presented in the SERPs, search engines can measure how you react to the pages.

For example, if they see you’ve clicked on one web page and then quickly jumped back and clicked on another web page, it tells the search engine you were not happy with the information on the first web page.

In SEO it is called “pogo sticking”

Search engines rank web pages higher, when they see the “long-click” from the user.

The longer someone stays on a web page, the better chance it has of ranking.

Machine learning: When Google rolled out the Panda update back in 2011, it had a huge effect on websites with poor content.

This is because Panda could understand what the quality of a piece of content was like.

The higher the quality the better it ranked.

Google also looked at human evaluators, that essentially gave a rating of how good the content was.

Google then replicated the human evaluators, to guess how good a piece of content was.

The introduction of Panda resulted in a huge Google dance, i.e. around 20% of the search results changed.

Patterns in linking: Even in the early years of the search engine, links denoted a vote.

A vote of confidence almost.

Linking to a website, implies the website which is receiving the link can be trusted.

Back in those days it was all about the number of links, but now, it’s all about quality links.

It’s better to have 1 great backlink, rather than 100 poor, spammy links.

Creating content

content is king Mr T

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying before, content is king.

In the SEO world it’s always talked about, and for a good reason.

When people are making a search, they want to find content that is going solve a problem.

So, by learning how to write quality SEO content that is valuable and actionable, it can help your SEO efforts by giving you a better chance of ranking in the SERPs.

The different types of search:

  1. Transactional searches: Transactional searches are were people show intent to make some form of transaction. Normally, it will involve purchasing something. But, it can also involve setting up a Gmail account, or signing up to a subscriber’s list.
  2. Navigational searches: Navigational searches are queries made by users wanting to find a particular website, but not a specific URL. For example, entering “Facebook”, or “YouTube” in the search bar.
  3. Informational searches: These searches are simply to find an answer to the question. People using informational searches are not looking to make a transaction, or looking for a specific site like a navigational query. People just want an answer to their query.

A webmasters aim is to cater for all of the different types of searches.

Just make sure to create actionable, high quality, creative content that is valuable to your audience.

Well, that’s the end of this chapter.

Now you know how usability & user experience affect rankings, read our next chapter in the beginners guide to SEO.

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Tahir Miah

Tahir Miah is an entrepreneur, digital marketer and SEO enthusiast. He is the founder of Serpjump, a Bedford link building agency. Tahir currently advises companies on the best way to increase revenue and brand awareness through SEO, content marketing and link building. He can be found on @serpjump

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