How user experience can affect SEO [case study]

  

We already heard user experience have greater influence on SEO. But do you ever think how deep it can effect search visibility, it can even throw your web site into trash. Sound strange?, i am able to make it proven because, unfortunately i’m experienced with how a bad user interface will kill a web site.

 

Before sharing my experience, let’s go through some theoretical side evidence that will certify relation between UI/UX and SEO. Any one who do a little study on this will land on same conclusion that we are gonna reach. A common say in marketing we know “Customer is the king“, same is in case of websites. Our customers are our web user’s, we need to treat them as like a king.

 

Theoretical evidence

In theoretical evidence, we will analyze some Algorithm factors which are associated with user interface/experience. Based on the analysis, we will come to a conclusion.

 

1. Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who exit from one site only after visiting a single page. When a web page is designed in a cluttered way, no user will be ready to visit a second page from it or even they will not complete a single second on it. This kind of interface will surely lead to make the bounce rate high as possible. As per studies, an average bounce rate of a website is somewhere between 40-50%. Anything below the range shows, how good is that site. Also above 60% bounce rate starts to show terrific level of a web design.

Bounce rate are depends on a couple of things, design of the page, content quality, load time, navigation, content sorting (should have structured with paragraphs, sub headings, point listing, and even rich media like image or videos) etc.

 

2. Direct Traffic

Most users accessing Facebook by entering it’s URL on browser, that means direct traffic. Why it is so, because people love Facebook. No one will forget a person who treat them well. Same way, user’s will remember a site which gave him a pleasant experience. A good website’s UI/UX should be much enough to make him remember that website forever.

 

3. Returning Visitors

Same way like direct traffic, a happy user may visit you more frequently. When most users of a webpage visit it regularly, that user behavior tells search engine that “I love this site, it is very nice one”. Will it effect search position of that site?, what do you think. What converts a normal user into loyal one is nothing except the content quality and the way how it present (user interface).

 

4. Browser Bookmark

What will us bookmark on our browser?, the important and interesting web pages, right?. These browser bookmarks are a strong signal to search engine that how relevant or good a web page is. When a web page looks like really interesting, then it’s visitors start to bookmark it. Bookmarks will also increase the direct traffic and returning visitors count. Which will make significant change in SEO.

 

5. Number of Comments

Your content is really interesting and i would like to participate on it by dropping my comment, but what if you didn’t give me an option to leave my suggestions?. Number of natural comments are very strong signal that search engine will count when deciding it’s search result position. What helps to increase the number of comment is how good is your comment and user interface (UI).

 

6. Time spent on page

An average length of a web article is lies somewhere between 500 – 1500 words. A normal user may take more than 3 seconds to read it partially. So what will be the reason if most of your user quite the site before completing single second. They don’t really want to read your journal. May be because of quality issue or how you treat that user. Imagine a webpage is filled with red color background and white color text on it. That’s how UI will influence user behavior.

 

7. Page views per visit

Page views per visit is the average number of pages that have been viewed by a visitor. User interface has a crucial role in determining the page views. Page views per visit also have a high impact on SEO.

 

8. Presence of a Sitemap

A good structured page map will helps the user to easily navigate through your content, it will helps to improve the page views per visit, time spent on page etc. Presence of a sitemap will give a plus point on your search visibility. This sitemap should be for user, not be a xml sitemap for search engines.

 

9. Navigation Level

Simply like sitemap, each of your important content should be reachable in a few clicks. That is only possible with a good navigation system, which is a part of user interface.

 

10. Presence of Contact & Privacy Policy pages

When your web page is packed with a clear contact information and privacy policy or terms and condition pages, it will improve the site reputation. Because the author making everything is transparent to the user. Presence of these pages have little impact on search engine rankings.

 

Theoretical Conclusion

Not limited to these 10 factors, every search engine is studying on a page user in all possible aspects to evaluate the page. The unavoidable ingredient in all these factors are a good user interface and experience. This theoretical study is much enough to prove how a bad design or UI can ruin your website. The coming days of SEO will be all about how a user behave when visiting a page. If you are not tired of reading, let me tell you the material evidence too.

 

Material Evidence

Here i would like to introduce a poor website, who become a victim for the bad UI effect. www.seminartopic.in is one of my site which i have created long before when i am a beginner in web activities and SEO. I wouldn’t like to make this material evidence section too long as we already made a good study on theories.

 

Here we are going to investigate two period of this website, and based on what happen to it, we will reach on a conclusion.

 

January 2014

This is how the site looks like on January 2014, i have taken a screen shot from web archive. Clean and easy accessible design. Let’s have a look on several factors when the site having same design.

 

Bounce Rate : 3.88%

Visit Duration: 7:06 Sec.

Page views per visit: 7.21

 

December 2014

This is how it become on December 2014, cluttered design with full of ads and terrific navigation. Then what happens on user behavior?

 

Bounce Rate: 52.72%

Visit Duration: 6.14 Sec

Page views per visit: 3.62

 

Effect on SEO

From January 2014 – December 2014, the site become very poor in it’s user interface and it effected the user experience. Bounce rate increased from 3 to 52%, page views per visit down from 7 to 3 and visit duration become 6 second from 7. How these user behavior effected it’s search ranking,

 

Keyword Position on January Position on December
Seminar Topic  2nd Position Disappeared
ECE Seminar Topic 1st Position Disappeared
CSE Seminar Topic 5th Position Disappeared
Engineering Seminars 7th Position Disappeared
Latest Seminars 4th Position Disappeared

 

This is how Google dropped that site from search results because of it’s worst user experience. May be you are thinking why did i make it cluttered even knowing that it may hurt SEO. This all happens because i tried to over optimize my ads with the page to get maximum clicks which leads to a worst situation. I’m not regretting because, even it is a lost to me, i could present a material evidence to the world that how a bad user experience will kill your SEO.

 

Conclusion

What you have to conclude from this article is, User experience and interface is directly propositional to SEO ( a little mathematical language, ;) ). When your user becomes fully satisfied, then your site will be in top of Google result. It is not a myth, i have proven it with my own experience. So what i have to tell you is make your site simple enough for users with easy accessible navigation and cute web design. Don’t mess it with advertisement. No one really like to kill their golden goose.

 

If you have any doubt regarding this topic, leave a comment. I will reply you for sure. Thanks for your patiency to read it completely.