Good User Experience is Indispensable
Katie Mack wrote about the importance of the user experience in SEO. We couldn’t have said it better:
We firmly believe that the best way to optimize your site for search engines is to optimize it for people. … People will stay longer on your site if they find content engaging and easy to navigate. You also want to encourage users to share your web content, which will naturally drive more traffic to your site from other sources.
What makes for a good user experience?
She cites a few criteria for an effective user experience. You need content that:
- is easy to find
- has educational value
- is easy to read and understand
- invites contribution and sharing
This is especially important for websites that have lost rankings due to Google’s Panda Update earlier this year. That algorithm change gave preference to sites that provide original, relevant content that’s easy to digest and easy to share.
Google wants to highlight high quality websites and the Panda update was largely focused on that goal. Consequently, Google posted (shortly after releasing the Panda update) guidelines on what they think constitutes a high-quality website. They start out by saying:
Our advice for publishers continues to be to focus on delivering the best possible user experience on your websites and not to focus too much on what they think are Google’s current ranking algorithms or signals
[Update 2021] Over the summer of 2021, Google rolled out its Page Experience algorithm update. That just makes this advice all the more important for your website.