Improving user experience, increasing traffic

Craig Hoggins
April 22, 2013
Search Engine Optimization

How to create a great user experience and increase traffic

Often people ask me how on earth user experience on a website could increase traffic.
Improving user experience, increasing traffic

The answer is simple but before we look at the technical details on why user experience increases traffic to let me first tell you how user experience increases traffic. Good creative content or especially very well designed websites or spectacular ideas are easily spreadable and usually end up getting a lot of traffic. Not only that, people enjoy reading websites that look spectacular and user experience is mostly about how things work and function.

Giving a user a great user experience means they want to be on the site, not just because they might have found what they were looking for, they might want to see more because the experience they are having is so interesting, enjoyable, informative that they want more.

People browse websites they like, obviously. What then creates a good user experience? I'd say the best user experience is made by giving people exactly what they want and more. By giving people more than they bargained for you can create a great user experience. It passes the point of providing just what is needed and going past the point of offering what people want with giving them what they want and giving them more than just that.

Great user experience is providing what people want and studying their interactions to always improve the functionality of a website. That way, most people that are searching for the same thing will find something they wanted but based on previous users the website will be optimized and user experience will be greatly improved. Sort of like the old saying, you learn from your mistakes. Although website user experience issues are not really mistakes, we can still apply that saying to the current situation. We learn what people want and optimize our websites for that.

Design:

User experience are things like the site's design. Do the colours both call out for the user to take an action if its a website that requires action or if its a website about being relaxed, do the colours promote that? If the topic is entertainment, do they feel entertained? Did they get what they were searching for and did you give them double of what they wanted? Did they easily follow the lead or did they maybe struggle with the menus? There are many factors that determine whether or not they are having a great user experience. So how does Google know if people are having a great user experience?

Google analytics:

There are a few ways Google uses analytics and other actions to see if the user had a great user experience. Google is very focused on the user experience. Not only on their search engine result pages but also on the websites they send people to. If the person that searched for something didn't get exactly what he was searching for then he might not be satisfied and if he is not satisfied he is having a bad user experience. Google uses the following to determine their user experience: Time on site.

Time on site:

If the user spends only a few seconds on the website and they vanish then you can't really say they are having a great user experience.

Bounce rate:

Obviously, a site that gives all the information they have on only one page will have a high bounce rate. The reason for this is that Google can't track more than one page if the website only has one page. Usually this results in a misleading 100% bounce rate, but usually, with most websites, this is by far not the case. Supposedly Google can take the stats that are from 2 pages and up and work out a relatively accurate bounce rate by ignoring the faulty 100% one-page bounce rates. This basically means websites with a high bounce rate does not give users a great experience.

Share-ability:


The next factor is the share-ability. How much is this website shared on social networks and by whom? This factor is quite deceitful because I often hear people say how are they supposed to make their websites social but then they are for instance a toilet manufacturer.  To see the share-ability of a site and if they are successful in that area you have to consider how much social traffic the average website of their sort gets. If they get more than the average they are pretty shareable even if that means they only have 10 likes on Facebook or 5 tweets. If a website of a toilet manufacturing company has 100k likes you know there is something fishy about that if they are not, for instance, a 100-year-old company.

Bounce back:

Then there is something called bounce back  Google uses bounce back to see if people found what they were looking for. If searchers search for a term, they find a website and click on it through Google but then in a few seconds they click back, that sends a pretty clear message to Google that the users didn't find what they were looking for. There are many factors that can determine how good the user experience is. This is why it's so important to give people reading, browsing or searching our sites good user experience.

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