Prioritizing Page Experience and Preparing for Google’s Algorithm Update.
With over 1.7 billion currently active websites on the internet and over half a million new sites created every day, it’s no small miracle that a few key phrases can drop a potential customer right onto your digital doorstep. At Lever Interactive, we strive to cut through the clutter and carve out a spot just for you near the top of that all-important first results page.
However, with so many competitors jockeying for the first spot, nobody can stay on top forever. Google’s search algorithms are always in flux, nudging sites up or down with each new update. SEO and SEM expertise can lower your bounce rate and entice users into staying on your landing page for a little while longer, but whether or not customers find your website at all can largely depend on which elements Google’s algorithm chooses to emphasize or devalue.
So how can you keep your site from drowning in a sea of competitors when the algorithmic waves are constantly shifting around you?
Two words: user experience.
Expediting User Experience
In case you missed it, Google will be rolling out their User Experience Algorithm Update in the first quarter of 2021. As we’ve discussed previously, this update will put more of an emphasis on lightning-fast load times and visual stability (among other ranking factors).
Google has been trying to orient websites towards easy, intuitive mobile browsing experiences for a while now, and this latest update prioritizes convenience and cohesion to a more granular degree than before.
So what does this mean for you?
As always, you should expect to see some ranking volatility following the update’s implementation as the results pages adjust to Google’s Core Web Vitals. But before the dust settles, there are a handful of relatively simple steps you can take to better prepare your online presence for the algorithm update.
Best Practices Make Perfect
UX improvements and innovations are nothing new to us here at Lever Interactive, and we believe it’s important to know the basic steps that a site can take to streamline a potential customer’s first visit.
- Optimize Load Times and Remove Dead Links: Lighting-fast load times can mean the difference between an engaged customer and a former customer. Clearing the clutter from your site’s backend means that your users will be able to experience your landing page in all its glory, without any awkward content pop-ins. Purging any inactive links from your site will also keep users from running into frustrating dead ends and keep the user engaged from page to page.
- Be Mindful of Images: Pictures on your landing page can eat through more bandwidth than most other page elements, so it’s crucial that you be shrewd with your images if you want to avoid long loading times. As an example, scaling images to be 100% on screen and compressing their file size can do wonders to your load time.
- Grab an SSL Certificate: Have you ever taken a look at the lock symbol on the left of the address bar? (Go ahead and look, we’ll give you a moment.) Turns out it’s more than just a visual flourish; that symbol indicates that the site you’re on is authenticated and enables an encrypted exchange of data between the browser and your site’s server. With an SSL certificate, your site is granted an extra layer of security and users can rest easy knowing that their data can’t be intercepted.
These practices can shave vital seconds off of your site’s load time and promote strong, secure connections between your site and your customers, but these are only a few aspects of Google’s update.
To take full advantage of these updated metrics, you’ll need to think about your page experience on a macro level.
Let’s zoom out, shall we?
Where SEO Principles and Design Intersect
It’s easy enough for our specialists to trim away your site’s inactive links or compress your header images just so, but that’ll only get you so far. True engagement, the kind that makes users linger on a well-crafted landing page or click through all of your menus just to see what’s on the other side, depends on the strength of your site’s design and layout considerations.
With an ever-expanding list of shiny new widgets to pull from (Chat boxes! Social media feeds! Slider galleries!), it may seem counterintuitive to err towards simplicity. According to Google’s own research, however, new users will have a more favorable opinion towards sites that skew simpler, placing more value on pages that can be interpreted and absorbed before users have time to blink.
If you’re unsure whether your website could use a little customer-focused streamlining, ask yourself:
- Can new customers find the most important links within less than three seconds of loading into your landing page?
- Is there any content overlap between the major pages or places where ambiguity may prevent customers from finding more specific, specialized information?
- Are links and buttons clustered closely together, or are all the most important page elements given their own space to breathe and catch a customer’s eye?
- Are your most-visited pages given increased visibility, or do they blend in to the rest of your website’s layout?
Overstimulation, unintuitive design choices and confusing site layouts may be some of the biggest obstacles between your site and scores of engaged customers. With the new weight being given to the user experience following Google’s algorithm update, it can pay dividends to be deliberate and concise with your web presence.
By keeping an open mind and a honed, design-savvy skillset, the Lever Interactive team can help you realize your digital potential without sacrificing your brand’s unmistakable identity.
So when the next algorithm update comes around and you’re not sure what to make of your shaky engagement metrics, don’t panic. Instead, reach out to Lever Interactive at firstname.lastname@example.org; we’ll make it easy for you by making it even easier for your customers.
…at least until the next algorithm update.
If you’re looking for a different agency experience, look no further.