The Time Is Now: Boost Your Rankings and Win New Customers by Investing in User Experience

4.9 min readPublished On: June 20, 2023

The Time Is Now: Boost Your Rankings and Win New Customers by Investing in User Experience

The importance of a stellar user experience (UX) on a website can be hard to quantify. If it’s working, it should feel seamless: success means the average visitor to your site doesn’t have to think about the experience at all, because everything is working together, perfectly in sync.

Good UX is a lot like air; when it is in abundance you breathe easy and hardly notice it at all.  When it is in short supply it is hard to notice anything else and it is probably a good time to leave.

But bad UX is immediately apparent to even the least tech-savvy visitor; as your prospective customer sits and waits (and waits) for your site content to load, tries to click through to what they need and fails to get there, or gets bounced back to the top of the page halfway through a piece of content, they have ample time to reconsider whether or not your site is something they actually have the patience to deal with.

Digitally proficient companies know all of this, and invest in great UX. But for many businesses, the right time to invest in UX has always been at some indeterminate point in the future, when they had the time or bandwidth to tackle a site redesign or change platforms.

That just changed!

Google has announced that it will start factoring UX into its rankings. That means your business has a decision to make: do you invest in your site’s UX, a known factor in both your customers’ experience of your business and Google’s rankings, or do you stick with the status quo?

There are three questions you need to understand to make the call.

Why should my business invest in better UX?

In a research late last year, Forrester found that intentional and strategic UX could increase conversion rates by up to 400%, and the importance of UX has only grown since then: your site needs to be faster and more responsive than ever, as more and more of your traffic comes from smartphones.

Many businesses have already zeroed in on site speed as a major area for improvement, but that’s just the tip of the UX iceberg. What happens once your site loads and users start to actually interact with it is just as important: focusing on site speed at the expense of the actual experience once people are on your site is like giving a great handshake at the beginning of a job interview then lying down on the ground and taking a nap. You need a firm grip AND stellar interviewing skills to make a great impression, not just one or the other.

Your website needs to look and feel professional, efficiently and effortlessly presenting your customers (and future customers) with the information they need through both written content and visual elements.

How is Google measuring UX?

Google outlined a set of quantifiable Core Web Vitals that will evaluate how users are experiencing your site, specifically speed, interactivity, and visual stability. Here are some key benchmarks Google provided for each:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This measures how quickly the main content of the site loads onto the page. Google recommends LCP occur within 2.5 seconds of the page starting to load.
  • First Input Delay (FID): This measures how quickly the browser can load the first interaction with your site. For example, if a user clicks a button or a link, FID measures how long it takes the browser to respond, i.e. load the next page or form. Google recommends an FID of less than 100 milliseconds.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): This measures the cumulative impact of every unexpected layout shift that occurs on a page across its lifespan. A layout shift is anytime a visual element changes position from one frame to another. Google recommends a CLS of less than 0.1.

These are not the only criteria for great UX; in fact, there are other UX signals that Google was already factoring into the ranking algorithm, including mobile responsiveness, safe browsing, HTTPS, and intrusive pop-ups. It’s important to note that Google also indicated in their announcement that they will continue to add additional UX criteria in the future.

What does my business need to do to take advantage of this opportunity (or at least avoid losing ground on Google)?

To make a long story short, you need to invest in UX. You’re in the business of providing the best possible experience for your customers, and that includes your website. Google has listened to its users: UX is important to them. That means it also needs to be a priority for your business.

What it doesn’t mean is that you should divert investment away from developing great content. The quality of information on the page is still the primary factor at play when it comes to rankings, so make sure to keep creating valuable content that is scoring high on Google’s E-A-T scale: content that’s expert, authoritative, and trustworthy.

However, UX could be the deciding factor when it comes to evaluating your site’s excellent content against a competitor’s—for Google and for your customer. So it’s time to take the measure of your site’s UX, and figure out if it’s time for a redesign or a replatform.

You have until January 1, 2021 to get your site up to speed (pun intended) and clean up UX before Google starts evaluating sites using the new Web Vitals UX factors. That’s just six short months: the time is now to make sure you won’t get penalized for poor UX.

Want to start moving in the right direction? Get in touch to learn more about a replatform or redesign and how we can help your business make the most of this new opportunity to gain market share on Google. Added benefit, your customers will thank you!

Ready to level up your digital transformation?