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Usability, User Experience, and how they affect SEO

When understanding SEO, it is important to understand the terms Usability and User Experience; how they are related, and how they affect each other.

What is usability?

Usability is a term used to describe how user-friendly a particular website is.

If people are unable to complete simple tasks, and consequently end up leaving the site without navigating between pages or resulting in a conversion, then the usability of the site would be considered low.  By investigating how easily a first-time user can perform tasks on your website,  you can gain valuable insights into how usable the site is.

What is user experience?

User experience is often simply known as “UX”.

The term was first coined by cognitive science researcher Dr Donald Norman. UX tracks how a user responds while interacting with a website, program, software or app. There are several factors within UX, which include:

Usability
Design
Accessibility
System performance
Marketing

While the two terms are closely associated, they are not interchangeable. Usability makes up just one of the factors of UX. Because of this, if there is good usability, it does not mean there is necessarily a good UX. Furthermore, they each have different goals.

Usability is more about the interaction between the user and the website. Meanwhile, user experience is the perception of this interaction. If you have a good UX, you will have created a positive emotional connection between the user and the website.

What does this have to do with SEO?

In recent years, Google has started to place more emphasis on creating a good user experience.

In order for websites to rank, businesses need to ensure they have both a good user experience and usability.

There is a strong connection between SEO, usability and user experience. After all, if a site is easy to navigate and has a fast loading time, it will have a lower bounce rate. You need to make sure users are easily able to find what they arrived on the site for, and can then navigate easily throughout your site.

To make sure you can achieve a good usability, you will need to ensure you have installed a good interface which is simple to learn how to use and navigate. If you want to have a good user experience, the website will also need to be pleasing to users, which involves having a good level of usability.

how can you improve your usability and UX?

Wanting to improve your SEO? A good place to start is by also improving your UX and usability.

How exactly can you improve these factors? Some basic tips include:

Heat-map: installing a heat-map system on your website will allow you to record the clicking activity of your visitors.
Optimisation: look at the design of your website and optimise where necessary. Consider putting your most important information above the fold, as this is where most people spend their time looking for information. Ensure you choose colours that are appealing, but also make it easy to read your text.
Speed: check the loading speed of your website, as this can often be a cause of a high bounce rate, and lowers the user experience and usability levels.
Mobile user-friendly: ensure your website is also mobile user-friendly. This will increase the UX and therefore your rankings.

Next time you’re looking to improve your SEO efforts, consider the importance of both usability and user experience. Just make sure you know the difference between the two, and don’t get them mixed up.

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