Mobiles and tablets have overtaken desktops in the vicious battle for Internet market share, making up 56% of all traffic in 2017. To keep a good experience for all users, Google are increasingly giving advantages to sites providing a good experience for users on all devices. Usability has increased importance in the SEO industry as a result, as many SEO pundits found you can get an advantage simply by making your site easy to use.
Another competing local business has low amounts of backlinks, but good support for mobile users. Its design fits perfectly to the screen and has special navigation designed for mobile users, making it easy to use.
In many cases, the second site will now rank higher than the first, for mobile users. This is just one example of how usability can have a significant impact on your rankings.
While a term like usability can understandably seem a little vague, let’s look at practical steps to improve your usability and the SEO strength of your site.
Make Your Site Accessible for All Devices
Make your site accessible and easy for all users: desktop, mobile and tablet. The simple way to do this is to make sure your site is responsive, which means it automatically resizes across all devices and has mobile-friendly navigation for mobile users.
Increase Your Content Quality
Gone are the days of hiring a bunch of writers to bulk out the content on your site. It needs to be proofread and edited, and the more “sticky” you make your content, the better results you will get. If you provide compelling content, users will spend more time on your site and are less likely to bounce back to the search results. Users will also be much more likely to share your content. Google will see this and give your rankings a boost.
Use Clean Code in Your Site
There’s a surprisingly high amount of sites with dodgy code, difficult for both search engines and Internet browsers to read. If there are HTML code errors in your site, which means, if it hasn’t been coded according to industry best practices, it’s possible your design will break when your siteis viewed on different browsers, or even worse, confuse search engines when they come along and look at your site.
Take It Easy on the Pop-ups and Advertisements
Sites with spammy and aggressive ads are often ranked poorly in the search results. The SEO gurus have reached no consensus on the amount of ads leading to a penalty from Google, so use your common sense. Ensure advertisements don’t overshadow your content and occupy the majority of screen real estate.
Improve the Overall “Operability” of Your Site
Does your site have slow web hosting, or a bunch of broken links and images? Simple technical oversights like these contribute to a poor user experience. Make sure your site is with a reliable web hosting company and doesn’t go down in peak traffic. Even better, make sure your site is hosted on a server in your local city, and this will make it faster for local users. Next up, chase up any 404-errors with your web developer. 404 errors are errors indicating users are clicking on links in your site and being sent to an empty page. It contributes to a poor user experience in Google’s eyes. Fortunately, these errors are easy fixed. You can find 404 errors on your site by logging into your Google Search Console account, clicking on your site, then clicking on “Crawl” and “Crawl Errors”.