Page speed will be a mobile search ranking factor on Google. Here’s what you can do to prepare.
The post How Will Mobile Page Speed Impact Your Google Rankings & UX? by @wburton27 appeared first on Search Engine Journal.
Page speed will be a mobile search ranking factor on Google. Here’s what you can do to prepare.
The post How Will Mobile Page Speed Impact Your Google Rankings & UX? by @wburton27 appeared first on Search Engine Journal.
Yesterday, Google announced a major upcoming change to its mobile ranking algorithm.
In a short blog post entitled ‘Using page speed in mobile search ranking’, it explained that starting in July 2018, page speed will officially be a ranking factor for mobile searches.
The catchily-named “Speed Update” (a feat of inventive naming on a par with “Assistant”) is set to only affect “pages that deliver the slowest experience to users” and, in Google’s words, will only impact a “small percentage of queries”.
However, given that Google processes around 3.5 billion search queries per day (per Internet Live Stats), a “small percentage” can still amount to a lot of websites.
So for any website owners and SEOs who might be concerned about how this affects them, let’s examine what we know about the update so far, and what it means for mobile SEO.
Google has used page speed as a ranking factor on desktop since April 2010, but although having a fast mobile site has always stood companies in good stead for ranking well in search, it hasn’t been an official ranking factor in Google’s algorithm until now.
However, this announcement is far from coming out of left field. As far back as June 2016, Google webmaster trends analyst Gary Illyes confirmed that the next mobile algorithm update from Google would use page speed as a ranking factor.
Google has also frequently emphasized the importance of speed in mobile user experience in its advice to webmasters, and Google initiatives like Accelerated Mobile Pages and Progressive Web Apps have aimed to furnish site owners with the tools to make their websites fast and streamlined on mobile.
The “Speed Update” announcement doesn’t give all that much new information about how website owners should improve their sites in order to rank well on Google, but here’s what we do know:
As highlighted earlier, the language used by Google in its blog post indicates that the search engine is looking at not just speed, but overall mobile user experience with this update.
Google went so far as to spell this out in a Q&A with Search Engine Land, saying that, “The intent of the signal is to improve the user experience on search.”
In other words, site owners who want to score highly here need to pay attention to more than just page load time. This is underscored by Google’s recommendation of the Chrome User Experience Report as a tool to evaluate webpage performance in light of the update.
A lot of improvements to mobile page speed also improve the wider user experience on mobile – for example, videos and audio set to autoplay are annoying and inaccessible to users, and also slow the page down by loading unnecessary content – meaning that site owners can kill two birds with one stone.
Other steps that site owners can take to improve mobile UX include disabling annoying full-page pop-ups and interstitials (which Google is liable to penalize anyway) and implementing a slimmed-down, task-based design that allows users to quickly navigate to the functionality they need.
Above all, a mobile website should enable users to efficiently accomplish what they came there to do, without being bogged down by unnecessary bells and whistles. If you achieve this, you should be able to stay on the right side of the Speed Update algorithm both in terms of page performance and in terms of mobile experience.
Here are some more guides we’ve published that will help you get to grips with mobile SEO, site speed and UX ahead of the July update:
These days, SEO best practices include consideration for the user experience (UX). Columnist Sherry Bonelli explains how SEO and UX work together to help both search engines and users.
The post SEO + UX = Success appeared first on Search Engine Land.
Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
As all business owners who operate an ecommerce website know, it can take a while to hit full stride in terms of conversion rate.
When results are underwhelming, the first instinct might be to make big changes across the board.
What a lot companies fail to realize is that a great deal of buying decisions take place subconsciously. Design errors can seem minuscule, but have a huge impact on the bottom line.
It’s very possible there are a number of UX flaws in your layout that are turning visitors off at first glance. Here are a few things you may have overlooked in your approach.
Web design is about so much more than just making a platform look pretty and appealing. The bulk of the process is about adhering to goal-based functionality. Using visual elements such as color, positioning, contrast, shape, size, etc. you can strategically organize the page so users get a strong impression of how important certain components are. Basically, it’s about where you want your customers’ eyes to be drawn to.
Here is MailChimp’s homepage:
Where is the first place your eyes went? Chances are, they went to the CTA in the center of the page. The button they’ve use is slightly offset from the rest of the color scheme and the message sticks out very prominently.
Based on the goals of your landing page, the desired action should be properly conveyed on the visual hierarchy scale and jump out to the visitor.
TechWyse did a case study on how certain landing pages attract attention. Here is the original landing page they used in the experiment:
Now, here is the landing page with a heat map of where visitors’ eyes were being drawn to:
You’ll notice that the place with the highest engagement was the vivid red “NO FEES” sticker. The problem with this is that it draws eyes, but has no click action or conversion related goal. Therefore, visitors are being diverted from the more important parts of the page.
A tool such as Zarget will help you identify the reading and scanning patterns of visitors to your site. It can also track browser interaction with moving and dynamic elements, as opposed to heat maps based on just snapshots (like the ones Crazy Egg gives you).
When you are designing landing pages, keep in mind your overarching objective for conversion. Is it to gain sign-ups? Promote a deal? Whichever you decide, be sure your visual hierarchy invokes the desired action and navigates users to a conversion.
Keep in mind, not everyone wants to be sold to immediately. Showcasing your unique selling proposition right off the bat is a good way to entice visitors to see what you have to offer.
Your value proposition is what tells customers why they should choose you as opposed to the competitors. Regardless of what you sell, this needs to be apparent almost instantly. The widespread usage of Amazon makes this concept extremely vital to the setup of ecommerce websites. Why should a customer buy from you instead of the convenient retail giants?
The harsh truth of the matter is that a lot of online businesses struggle with clearly communicating their value proposition. Follow these steps when crafting yours:
Here is a great example from Less Accounting:
Their entire homepage is devoted to expressing their value proposition. They take a common issue of the industry and spell out how they work to solve the problem. Below the fold, they show a video success story as well as the big name companies their platform is compatible with for validation.
A series of case studies conducted by Invesp found that a well-crafted value proposition can increase your conversion rates by 90 percent! In the vastly overpopulated ecommerce landscape, customers have no problem moving on to the next brand if your value proposition is murky.
The checkout process is perhaps the most crucial piece of the ecommerce puzzle. Given that the average cart abandonment rate was 76.8 percent last year, it can be a very complicated design element to master. There is a plethora of reasons why people choose to abandon their carts:
Basically, your goal should be to eliminate as many hoops as possible that the customer has to jump through in order to buy. Each step means another chance to reconsider. Simplicity is very important here.
Now, having 1-click checkout options like Amazon may not be viable for all ecommerce platforms. But, there are many little design tweaks you can make and elements to add that will make the process easier.
First of all, there should always be a function where the customer has the option to checkout as a guest. Most people know that registering for a website means they will be bombarded with spam.
Also, be sure it’s very obvious what is in the shopping cart, as well as the total cost with all fees included. Here is an example of a cart from Asos:
They clearly show the total cost of the items and provide options for shipping so the user will not be hit with any unexpected extras.
Another great component to include is a progress indicator:
Adding this to your design will make the process seem more organized with a clear funnel to a conversion.
Everything you add to your ecommerce website ultimately leads to the checkout. If this section is poorly crafted, your conversion rate will suffer. Your choice of ecommerce platform will make all the difference – a customizable one like Shopify will ensure your shopping cart has the requisite functionality, without which the best design is meaningless.
So while you put the best shopping cart systems in place, implement all that advice out there on how to improve your checkout process, and keep an eye on your analytics all the time to see if you’re meeting your conversion goals, how much of those 76.8% abandoned carts can you actually expect to recover?
Neil Patel, co-founder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar, and KISSmetrics, estimated the recovery rate at 10-30% in an article for Forbes. “The amount of sales that you can recover with rates like that really adds up,” he wrote.
First impressions are everything in ecommerce. What is your first thought when you see this one?
If your website looks like it was designed back in the 90’s, consumers can easily jump to conclusions like a) you’re no longer in business, and b) your website won’t keep their valuable information secure. Both will cost you credibility and turn potential buyers away in droves.
Additionally, outdated websites do not typically fare well in the search rankings. Google updates their search algorithms hundreds of times a year, and values user experience over most other ranking factors. Rohan Ayyar, my fellow Search Engine Watch columnist and SEO guru, has this to say:
“It’s common knowledge that Google conducts frequent usability studies and scores of experiments to improve their own products. That’s how serious they are about UX. Your website will sink rapidly down the SERPs if you continue to ignore usability.”
Fixing your web design with a UX-first approach will require a bit of market research. Take a look at your competitor’s websites to get an impression of what is par for the course. Also, be sure you are keeping up with the latest trends in web design.
For example, simplistic homepages that do away with text heavy content are being used more often these days to serve as a powerful introduction to a website. Here is Vera Wang’s homepage:
The main focus of the landing page is a captivating video used for the first impression, rather than a wall of text leading to product listings.
Ultimately, if your website appears outdated, you are leaving money on the table. No matter how great your content is, visitors will be turned off at first glance. However, using conventional web design standards and practices doesn’t mean you have to conform to the latest design trends or adapt your layout to it.
Jeffrey Eisenberg, CEO of BuyerLegends.com, summed it up best when he advised webmasters to make their sites focus on “persuasion” instead of “conversion”:
“The ability to achieve truly dramatic improvements in conversion rates still requires a shift in conventional thinking. Design teams need to understand that while the goal may be conversion, the practice must be persuasion.”
This implies designers, developers, content creators and marketers will soon wind up on the same page in the not-too-distant future. In fact, the tools to help them do that are already here.
For instance, UXPin helps business owners and marketers collaborate with their design teams to rapidly create wireframes and prototypes, from which the designers and developers can work towards a finished website that meets all the required functionality.
Designing a website is not rocket science. However, finding the perfect balance of elements that result in a healthy conversion rate will likely take some experimentation. The key is to always be testing and optimizing.
Each ecommerce platform will require different formulas for conversions. Don’t fall prey to these common blunders.
Irrespective of your industry, you rely on your website to build trust, build relationships, provide services, and sell products.
Proper SEO will draw customers to your website, thereby improving your search rankings while UX helps a visitor to locate the needed information on your website and helps in starting a relationship with your prospective customer.
Your website visitors have specific problems, and they use search engines to find the answers they seek. Once they locate a website that answers their questions, they expect to view the answers quickly and easily.
This is why it is essential that SEO and UX complement each other to produce results. Simply put: SEO + UX = $.
It is worthless and pointless to drive traffic to your site unless that traffic is qualified. Likewise, your website design is a waste of time if you don’t have any traffic to convert.
Together, the focus of SEO and UX needs to be on the intent of your website visitors so that your business has a website that converts visitors into customers.
The strategies discussed below identify 5 UX best practices for a search engine focused website.
If you look around any waiting room, restaurant or any other public place today, you’ll notice that most people are usually occupied with their phone. Statistics on consumer mobile usage by Smart Insights revealed that time spent on mobile devices has outgrown time spent on desktops by 51% to 42%.
96% of Smartphone users have run into websites that were not designed for mobile devices. If a mobile user arrives at your website and your site isn’t optimized for mobile, that user is five times more likely to abandon the task and bounce off your site.
Your website responsiveness should be given priority as Google has altered its algorithms to consider just how responsive your overall design is and reward mobile-optimized websites. This means that an irresponsive website will have difficulty ranking in search engine results.
With more and more people making use of mobile devices, having a responsive website is easy and a must for great UX and SEO.
Google has been very clear about the impact of page speed on its search engine ranking. Google has stated on a number of occasions that it includes page speed signals in its search algorithms. This indicates that improving your website speed will yield dividends when it comes to ranking on search engine.
Slow web pages ruin customers experience because almost half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less. You can obtain a clear data on your web page speed performance with Google Analytics, Page Speed, YSlow, WebPagetest or Page Speed Insights.
Slow web pages are not ideal from a UX and SEO perspective, as corroborated by Matt Cutts:
“Speeding up websites is important — not just to site owners, but to all Internet users. Faster sites create happy users and we’ve seen in our internal studies that when a site responds slowly, visitors spend less time there. But faster sites don’t just improve user experience; recent data shows that improving site speed also reduces operating costs.”
Below are some resources you can consult to learn how to optimize your website speed.
A rich snippet might be an image, review, video, or even an event calendar, embedded right there in the SERP listing. The initiative, of course, is to enrich the UX and to provide additional info right in the search result page, compelling the user to click on your webpage for more information.
Website owners and marketing managers need to make use of any opportunity to lure internet searchers to click on their page instead of a competitor’s. With rich snippet, you can enhance your search results with add-ons like photos and rating, which help to draw the searcher’s eye as well as offering additional information.
With numerous paid ads, image results, and other visually interesting elements competing for attention on the search results page, rich snippets can be that unique effect that attracts the eye and wins the click.
Implementation of rich snippet can be done in two ways, as follows:
Very few brands implement rich snippets, so this undoubtedly is an opportunity for your website to stand out in SERPs, enhance UX and boost click-throughs.
According to Google, “The navigation of a website is important in helping visitors quickly find the content they want. It can also help search engines understand what content the webmaster thinks is important…”
When creating a new website or redesigning an existing one, you should consider your website’s navigation process. Website navigation can be used to enhance UX while being used to optimize for search engine also, you might choose between multiple pages or an infinite scroll across your web pages as seen on Inc.com and others.
Designing a sensitive navigation not only improves your website UX but if applied properly can enhance your website conversion rate also. For example, bounce rate on Time.com dropped by 15 percent after they adopted continuous scrolling.
If you have clear calls to action (CTA) working in connection with a user-friendly navigation, it will help to make it easier to drive your visitors through the goal funnels and avoid frustration for your website visitors who have to take avoidable steps to reach their final destination.
Good images in your content not only help to make your website content more attractive and informative, it also helps to create an aura essential for UX.
Images help to deliver effective ideas to the user and attract interaction, and most SEO experts will tell you the benefits of optimizing your images for search as well.
When your image and title is properly formatted with relevant keywords relevant to the content of each respective image, there will be an increased likelihood of them showing up when a related image search is carried out in search engines.
For practical tips on how to make sure your images are properly search optimized, check out Christopher Ratcliff’s guide to optimizing your images for SEO.
It’s easy to blend SEO and UX to enhance your website’s performance, and it’s important to recognize that these two cannot work separately anymore, at least not with the same effectiveness.
SEO will lead traffic to your site and help it attain a higher position on SERPs, however, it’s UX that will determine whether the traffic can be sustained and converted into customers.
Thus, every site trying to improve its performance through UX and SEO should offer:
How to combine the benefits of SEO and UX to improve your online presence, drive qualified traffic, and increase sales.
The post How SEO & UX Work Together to Drive Your Business by @CJGiarratana appeared first on Search Engine Journal.
Mobile video is great. When it works.
Implemented correctly, video or audio *should not* impact the speed that pages load on a mobile device and when the play button is pressed, it needs to start quickly and work well.
Video content is top of the agenda for many brands. It is proving a great way to engage customers and visitors, but when viewed on mobile devices, particularly those on cellular connection, video (and to a lesser extent audio) should come with a health warning.
Users are increasingly impatient with slow-to-load and stalling video and will start to abandon a video after waiting just two seconds, research from UMass and Akamai shows.
This column, the first of three parts, will take a close look at how and why video affects page performance. In the second part, we’ll look at the impact of video autoplay and audio on page performance, as well as what makes a poor viewer experience (VX).
Finally, we’ll explore how to detect, avoid and remedy issues to prevent users tuning out.
The provision and consumption of video on mobile devices via web and apps is growing rapidly. Mobile video is already 60% of total mobile data traffic worldwide and is expected to be 78% by 2021 according to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index (VNI).
All other elements will grow over the next five years, but their proportion of overall traffic will be less. Audio will be 5% compared with 8% today and mobile web will be 14% compared with 30% of traffic today.
But the biggest impact on VX comes after page load when the video is slow, or fails, to start or stalls.
The two charts below are from HTTP Archive, which twice monthly records the page size and download speed of the homepages of the top 1 million sites to desktop and mobile devices, using the excellent WebPageTest.
Video is 128kB or 5.5% of the total bytes loaded (2312 kB or 2.3MB). This might appear small, until you realize that 97% of pages monitored by HTTP Archive have no video content (we examine this surprising stat below).
Pages that do have video content will therefore show a higher proportion of video content.
The second chart (captured April 15, 2017) shows the content breakdown for the homepage of the US digital agency Huge. Here video content is 727kB or 14.5% of the total bytes. The total weight of the page is 5MB, which is a homepage worthy of the company name, and, when measured, took 25.8 seconds to load on a mobile device, according to HTTP Archive.
To be fair, many agencies (digital, media, advertising et al) have surprisingly slow loading, heavy weight sites (considering the importance of digital to their businesses), though Huge is exceptionally large. A trimmer example is Young and Rubicam. On the same date the Y&R homepage took three seconds to load 783kB on a mobile device (on other dates it took nine seconds) according to HTTP Archive.
Implemented correctly, video (or audio) should not impact the size of the webpage or the speed that pages load on a mobile device, according to the experts.
Even when video is present on the page, to render the page, the browser only needs to load the video container, teaser image, start button etc. it doesn’t need to download the entire video (as the visitor may not want to watch it at all). Thus video and audio ought not to be a significant proportion of content recorded by HTTP Archive / WebPageTest – as we will see when we look at the most popular sites.
Sam Dutton is a Developer Advocate at Google who provides educational materials and workshops for techies in mobile video. He explains:
“Video is not a big issue for page loading, since in general video shouldn’t be part of the cost of loading a web page.
“Top sites are less likely than less popular sites to require video for page load since (hopefully) the top sites realize the detrimental effects on page weight and (therefore) bounce rates, etc.”
This is Part 1 of a series looking at how video impacts mobile web performance and UX. Read the next installment: How video impacts mobile web performance and UX, part 2: autoplay and audio.
As search engine algorithms become more sophisticated, many believe user signals will play a greater role in search rankings. Columnist David Freeman explains what this means for forward-looking SEO professionals.
The post Why UX is pivotal to the future of SEO appeared first on Search Engine…
Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
Kelsey Jones speaks with Simon and Edward from Blue Array on what the upcoming Mobile Interstitial Penalty from Google is, how to check to see if your site has been affected, and how a mobile-first world has affected UX.
The post What Is the Google Mobile Interstitial Penalty? [PODCAST] appeared first on Search Engine Journal.
It’s the right time of the year to evaluate your SEO strategy and examine the best ways to improve it during 2017. This doesn’t have to be a complicated process, though.
New year’s resolutions are not just about our personal goals, so it may be the ideal moment to focus on your business goals and seek for the best ways to boost your SEO presence to improve authority, value and ranking.
If you’re wondering how to start fixing your SEO for 2017, here are a few suggestions you might find useful.
As simple as it sounds, it’s important to create content that adds value, while it maintains its relevance for the target audience.
It’s not just about creating quality content, but also about knowing your audience, to the extent that the content is useful and has more chances to be ranked higher in the search results for the relevant queries.
Quick tips to add more value with your content:
User experience is critical to SEO, so it may be a good idea to test how it affects the traffic to your site.
In fact, user experience starts even before the user visits your site and according to Forrester, 93% of online experiences start with a search.
Thus, it’s important to proceed to the necessary tweaks that ensure a smooth visit:
It was already clear from 2016 that search engines focus on the actual content rather than its optimisation.
There’s no need to spend more time on the optimisation if your content is not appealing enough for your audience.
Monitor the keywords, the site’s stats, the levels of engagement on each topic and find what users really expect from your page.
Think of new ideas to expand your content, or even to invest in evergreen content, and make sure you think like a reader, rather than a search engine.
Are the topics and the structure appealing to your target audience?
Remember, the combination of seamless user experience with quality content can have a very positive impact on your SEO rankings.
Visual content is more important than ever. It manages to supplement text in the best possible way (or even to replace it) and it certainly can affect SEO.
We tend to forget how visual content should still be optimised for search engines, but luckily it only takes a few minutes to boost its SEO performance.
Your online presence goes way beyond your site. The problem is that we tend to forget how our online footprint may extend to all the different platforms we may try out at some point and then abandon.
It’s certainly a great idea to experiment with new platforms to promote your presence, but make sure you keep them up-to-date even if you stop using them.
Let’s say you have a Google+ page, but you’re not using it anymore (or you tend to forget to share your content there). Are the details accurate to help users find more about your business?
Here’s a new task for your calendar in 2017, create a spreadsheet that monitors your online presence and check once a month that the information is up-to-date.
You never know how useful this may turn out to be!