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Gary Hainsworth

The Biggest SEO Factor Right Now: User Experience

15th Nov 2021 SEO Blog 3 minutes to read

Times have changed since you could buy an exact match domain name, stuff the pages with keywords and watch your revenue grow.

Now all markets are saturated with competitors, all vying for the same keywords and Google is a much more complex beast. Big updates seem to be a much more regular occurrence and they are all geared towards the same goal – the best user experience.

The evidence is right there in Search Console and Google have made no effort to hide the page experience, mobile usability and core web vitals sections. They literally even state good, needs improvement and poor if there was any doubt left…

It’s just speed right?

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Kind of, but rather than just racing towards the lowest time possible, it’s also about making it so that users aren’t clicking out of frustration of ending up somewhere they shouldn’t be because that link just moved down the page.

Core Web Vitals – LCP, FID & CLS

These are the metrics in the core web vitals report and have probably been the bane of every SEO and Developer over the last year. They are fundamentally based around speeds, but more importantly they take into account the human factor.

What is LCP – Largest Contentful Paint?

This is the time it takes for the largest section on the web page to load. While your flashy video that took 50% of your budget to make is on the homepage, it is probably causing your rankings to suffer.

What is FID – First Input Delay?

Your page has items which load, so as a user you press on a shopping filter. Nothing happens.

When it eventually registers the click (or the 5 you tried in the meantime), this is the First Input Delay.

What is CLS – Cumulative Layout Shift?

Probably the most annoying one for users is when the page shifts as it is loading. Again it can cause mis-clicks and other unwanted interactions – messing up the user and your data collection. When you click to close the video on an article it registers as a click through for more information.

When this happens the user probably clicks away and never returns. Not ideal.

Potential Future Metrics?

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There will invariably be variations on these and more refined factors in the future, as the Core Web Vitals report itself is an evolution of the page speed index, just updated primarily for mobile and touch screen users.

Mobile Usability For SEO

This is an older report and as such is mostly ‘fixed’ across most sites, but it is still important to understand how Google sees the pages on your site for mobile users.

Mobile traffic has overtaken desktop, so errors in this shouldn’t be taken lightly.

It isn’t a matter of “this URL won’t be optimal in mobile”, it’s nearer to the majority of users can’t use this page so it gives bad user experience.

There are numerous factors in this report too, but don’t be dismissive of them.

HTTPS Status

Buy an SSL certificate.

via GIPHY

This is pass/fail, there isn’t anything else to it. This is as vital as having a server/website/computer/internet connection.

What Should You Do?

This blog has only mentioned those factors which can be seen in Google Search Console, never mind how users actually experience your site in terms of conversion rate optimisation and more general UX.

These measurables are there for you to see once you claim your Google Search Console property, so take a look now. If you’re anywhere other than 100% good pages, then this could be blocking your potential in search engine results, so focus on this rather than tweaking your title tag for the hundredth time!

Better yet, get in touch with us and we can help bridge the gap between marketing and developers to give actional insights and help you give your site a chance of beating the competition.

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Gary Hainsworth

Senior Organic Data Specialist

If you're after someone to chat guitars with, Gary's your man. When he isn't playing guitar, or bass, he's trying his hand at modifying them. He's even made one from scratch once. He relates strongly with the humble and kind hedgehog, who also happen to be as prickly as his musical taste; anything loud, fast and angry.

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