Did you know that ranking well in Google doesn’t only depend on good quality content? In fact, your website’s usability, as well as its performance, also have an impact, so can improve or damage search rankings. Therefore, by improving your website’s usability, as well as its performance, you can get better results from your website.
Google has always placed significant emphasis on performance and usability. It even offers a free site speed test tool that you can use to check the performance of your website. This tool even tells you what you should fix.
In addition, Google publishes guidance and advice on some elements of website usability.
Let’s now look further at the impact of website performance and usability to SEO
Usability is a measure of the user-friendliness of your website. For example, it looks at how easy it is for users to navigate your website, find what they need, and do what they want to do, without getting lost or confused.
The following questions can help you determine the usability of your website:
- Is it easy to navigate?
- Are there elements that you can improve?
- Are there many distractions on the website (like ads or popups)?
- Is the contact information clearly visible?
- Does the design include all necessary features?
Site usability also takes into account the efficiency of your site’s design. You can judge this by analysing the time it takes users to perform tasks once they are familiar with the layout.
Finally, website usability is also about making your website available on all device. This means ensuring you have a responsive design that works well on mobile phones.
Understanding Website Performance
Google measures website performance by the speed it takes web pages to download and display in users’ browsers. Therefore, an outdated website design, regardless of whether it has incredible content, will probably suffer on search result pages with a low ranking.
Google told us this directly back in 2010 and it has issued updates regularly since then. Specifically, it says it uses site speed as a factor when determining the rank of websites. Why is Google so fixated on performance?
A webpage that takes too long to load can lead to a bad user experience which, in turn, increases the bounce rate. Google doesn’t like high bounce rates because they essentially mean failure, i.e. Google failed to send the user to a website that could help with their query.
As a consequence, your ranking in Google – and the goals you have for your website – suffer.
In fact, statistics show that 47 percent of users expect a page to load in just two seconds. In addition, as delay as short as one-second can lead to a reduction in conversions by as much as seven percent. So, an e-commerce site making roughly $1,000 a day could lose as much as $250,000 a year in revenue because their website has a one-second delay.
How Usability and Website Performance Impact Your Business
Usability and website performance have both a direct and an indirect impact on SEO. As well as impacting SEO, however, both also have an impact on your business. After all, website performance and usability play a part in improving recommendations, increasing traffic, and achieving conversions.
For instance, if navigating through your website is difficult, then engaging with visitors will be difficult too. These low engagement rates often lead to visitors leaving your website and being hesitant to return in the future.
Likewise, if users don’t quickly spot what they are looking for, there is a high chance they will just stay on your page for only a few seconds before heading back to the search results page in the hope of finding another website that will be more helpful. This is a potential lost customer.
What Can You Do to Improve Website Performance and Usability?
It is important to remember that Google uses a lot of tools, factors, and strategies to determine performance and usability. It even uses its web browser Chrome to monitor how people interact with websites.
So, what should you do to optimise the performance and usability of your website?
Primarily, good usability involves not only removing roadblocks but also minimising the total steps a user must take to get to the end goal. Since usability involves making a task hassle-free and intuitive, you need to come up with a user interface that is very simple to learn as well as being appealing and rewarding to visitors.
You should also speed up the loading time of your website so that fewer users abandon your pages out of frustration. There are a lot of things you can do to improve loading times like leveraging browser caching, using a content delivery network, minimising redirects, optimising images, etc.
To find out exactly what is slowing up your website, you should check it with the speed test tool above before fixing any problems it highlights. Make sure you check the speed of your website on mobile devices too, as there may be additional issues you should look at.
In addition to the above, you can also use the following tips to improve both website performance and usability:
- Use a heat-map tool that lets you record click behaviour on your website. This will help you understand how visitors use your website, so you can make improvements.
- Try to avoid publishing a lot of irrelevant content. Your pages and posts need to be clear, concise, and easy to understand.
- Place key information in places where the eye is naturally drawn. Statistics show that 80 percent of users look at information placed above the page fold while 69 percent of users spend their time looking at the left side of the page. Content above the fold is content that is visible without the user having to scroll. Therefore, put your most important information at the top left-hand side of the pages on your website.
- If your website is not mobile-friendly, it is time for you to optimise it for those who visit your website using their tablets or smartphones. Remember, optimising your website for mobile doesn’t just mean making it look good on mobile devices. You must also check all the content and functions to ensure they work properly on mobile too.
- Pick out visually appealing colours instead of those that are quite distracting. Make sure you research colour psychology before you finalise a colour scheme.
Website performance and usability are issues that you simply cannot ignore as even small problems can have a significant impact. On the flip side, by optimising performance and usability, your ranking in Google and your business overall are likely to improve.