July 20, 2017 by Diana Bocco

Google and User Experience: Optimizing Symbiotically

Google, as the largest search engine on the internet, holds a deciding place when it comes to rating websites.

Google and User Experience: Optimizing Symbiotically

Users turn to Google to enter their queries and the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) display the rankings of relevant websites to query. This means optimizing for Google alongside user experience is necessary to achieve high rankings.

Catering to Mobile Platforms

The advent of mobile platforms such as smartphones and tablets has greatly changed the way users access the web. With over 80 percent web users owning a mobile device and 60 percent accessing the web through them, even Google has recognized the increasing numbers and started shifting towards mobile first indexing, where the SERPs will be based on the mobile webpages.

Internal Linking with Seven Steps for Perfect SEO

Internal linking is designed to provide efficient website navigation, display relevant websites to content and allows a user to identify high ranked sites. It augments the overall search elements and links together the sites so spiders can crawl over them, which adds to optimization for Google. Users can shift to sites that aid in their search, which improves user experience.

By following the 6 steps of internal linking, you can achieve high quality SEO and keep both users and Google happy.

  1. Fresh content always wins
  2. Use links related to user searches
  3. Add follow links
  4. Anchor text to set webpage hierarchy and improve UX
  5. Don’t spam internal links
  6. Natural links to high quality content

Don’t Forget About Images

Images are a significant part of content and surprisingly, are often overlooked, which negatively affect both rankings and UX. Just a few changes such as listed below can provide a significant boost to both elements.

Plan from the Beginning

Plan before making the development changes. Instead of making changes as you go, you can plan out from the start which operation you need to begin with or which ones need more attention. This ensures the resulting site is both well defined, mobile friendly and the process does not experience hurdles.

The number one mistake designers and developers make is using either the wrong or the same image format for every image on a site. Follow these suggestions to determine the correct format for a given image:

File Format

Many developers and designers simply aim towards adding images, videos and GIFs onto their webpages without considering their file type. This can lead to complications on mobile platforms, where viewport, software and hardware resources are under constraints.

For example, logos and GIFs do not require high definition images; they can be presented using 256 colors and JPEG is the most suitable format for displaying photographs.

Image Names

Image names matter, since they represent meaningful data rather than random garbage. Moreover, Google is intelligent enough to notice these subtle factors and they contribute to rankings.

Balancing Quality and Display

Compression allows you to reduce file size but pushing it results in quality loss, so make sure to reserve quality and reduce size at the same time. While the same JPEG images have striking difference under varying quality, it is a safe bet to start from low quality and increase it until it seems right for viewing.

Color palette also has a huge impact. A 16 color and 256 color image has a fine line drawn between them just as a smaller and bigger resolution image does. You can pick them according to your requirements keeping in mind about how they would affect speed and UX of the website. After all, Google takes note of these aspects quite seriously.

Optimizing for Google and Users

Since Google aims to provide the best possible user experience and they, in turn, rely heavily on Google for searching, it is necessary to optimize for both since they are interlinked. With these tips, you can be sure to have Google by your side and win over users with their positive experience.

UX: Where to Start?

User experience is such a vast term with so many factors that it becomes difficult to decide where to start from. However, they often clump together under a few basic factors such as below, and enhancing them boosts the visitors viewing your webpage.

  1. Responsive Design

Designed to adjust to any platform viewport and other constraints with flexible layout and grids, it is perfectly suited to adapt with mobile devices while retaining functionality. Using this, you can be sure to please user experience each time they access your website from a hand held device.

  1. Show off your Content

While your content may boast high quality, presentation is also a critical factor. Since mobile devices have limited display, presenting content requires careful consideration of how your users will view it. Text should be large enough to be readable but not oversized to consume too much space. Paragraphing helps separate content into smaller chunks which are easier to understand. Headings allow users to spot information they are looking for instead of going through the entire content.

  1. Watch out for the Design

Users are very picky when it comes to the website design. According to latest statistics, 75% of users judge a company’s credibility based on their web design.

Content should be displayed meaningfully without cramming too much into a limited space. Avoid practices such as allowing pop ups and redirects without permission because they cause site abandonment, since the screen size is already too small and the user can get frustrated from them.

How to Keep Google Satisfied

Being the largest and most highly rated search engine means maintaining quality and supplying the users with a positive experience to return the next time. To keep Google happy with you, take note of these guidelines.

Responsive Web Design

With Google moving towards mobile-first indexing, it is time to prioritize mobile platforms. Even so, developing solely for mobile will only end up cutting out the other users, which can rack up negative experience for them. With responsive web design, you can be sure to fulfill users’ needs from all devices.

Loading Time Matters

Surveys conclude that users will abandon a site if it takes more than 5 seconds to load. Streamline your web design to load faster since Google measures the load time and bases rankings on them as well.

Content Quality

Google is very intelligent when it comes to recognizing quality content and it is a critical element that it factors for rankings. Content which is helpful for users and original in quality will automatically elevate your rankings in Google. Its popularity on social media is also evaluated, so promoting content on these platforms is also a good idea. On the other hand, plagiarism and black hat SEO will land you in a tight spot, with Google banning not only your content but also site from its searches.

Balancing UX and Google

While it may seem complicated to aim for positive user experience and high Google rankings at the same time, the truth is both are deeply interlinked. Since Google bases its SERPs on how the users responded, optimizing for one automatically sets the grounds for modifying for the other. By keeping both in check, you can be sure that the users benefit from the helpful content from your site and Google continues to display it high on its rankings.

** About the Author: Asad Ali is a digital marketing strategist having experience of more than 7 years. His vast exposure to SEO, design optimization, boosting conversions and targeting relevant customers makes him an industry expert. Currently, he is heading the marketing team at Go-Gulf Dubai – a custom website development company.

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