User experience often gets overlooked when webmasters set out to optimize their blogs and websites. Too often, when we think of optimization, we immediately focus on anchor text, semantic markup, keyword deployment, and creating successful linking strategies. But user experience should be the ultimate focus of every website. No amount of clever SEO strategies can increase the page ranking of a website that is off putting to potential visitors. Attractive, easy to use, websites naturally garner a better flow of repeat traffic, and are much more likely to experience a greater number of user “likes” and “shares”. Creating a great user experience is a positive way to earn natural links, and to encourage visitors to explore more of your content, taking them deeper into your site and closer to a final conversion. Websites that offer a poor user experience are prone to increased back-clicks, and ultimately enjoy less traffic and fewer conversions.
User experience is one of Google’s most important ranking factors, and there are a few easy tips that webmasters can follow to make their website much more attractive to browsers and customers.
Tip #1 – Content Should Be Easy to Read
First and foremost your content counts for nothing if it is difficult to read. Large blocks of text are off putting when someone lands on your page and just “feels” off. Break them up into easily managed chunks, and include subheadings to both break up the monotony, and to guide the readers eye throughout the page. Subheadings also act as a kind of summary of the page, letting the reader see what the text offers at a glance. Use an easy to read font, no less than 12 and no more than 14 points. Reevaluate the margins on your pages, and decrease them if you find that you can not easily read the text without looking to the extreme left or right.
Tip#2 – Include Images and Diagrams
Images, charts, and diagrams are a good way of grabbing the readers attention on “look” and focusing it on your content. They are also great at breaking up a page full of text, and making it attractive to the casual browser. Concise images or charts are also more likely to be shared over social networks than large blocks of text. By including graphics on a page you also influence the perceived value of the page. A well laid out page, with graphics and easy to digest text, subconsciously tells visitors to your site that you have spent time developing solid content and encourages them to further explore your site and what it has to offer.
Tip#3 – Remove Broken Links
Check your site for bad, or broken, links. When a visitor to your site clicks on a broken link, their first reaction is frustration. That frustration soon turns to an assumption that the website they are visiting is poorly maintained, and likely to be filled with low quality content. Broken links also make customers question a site’s trustworthiness, making them less likely to follow through with a final conversion. Broken links have a direct impact on “usability” and user experience, and sites with an abundance of bad links are likely to suffer from an increase in back-clicks and a drop in repeat visitors.
Take time to check your site for broken links, using one of the many available tools such as Link Checker. Remove or rebuild any broken links you may find. The time you spend on this one simple step will be greatly rewarded, and will help ensure that visitors to your site rarely hit a time-out. At the least, implementing a custom 404 page can greatly help your visitors by guiding them back on track.
User experience is an important factor in the success of any website. Google looks at more than just keywords and anchor text, they also look at how users interact with a given website. Those sites that are experiencing high levels of back-clicks, and increasingly lower levels of shares and repeat visits, are assumed to be of low quality and quickly lose their page rankings. As good as your content may be, if your site is cluttered up with broken links and large blocks of unreadable text you may ultimately fail to engage with your potential customers. These few simple tips can help you revitalize your website, bringing a better online experience to the customers you are working so hard to attract.