As we continue into 2021, we’re seeing more and more Google algorithm updates that focus on website usability.
In addition to the 100’s of SEO related ranking factors, Google are now including a greater focus on providing a high quality-user experience. Gone are the days of ranking well with spammy, keyword stuffed content. Instead, we’re seeing polished websites that perform well technically and include beneficial content hitting the top spots.
So what should you be focusing on in 2021?
The loading speed of a website has been one of the main ranking factors for Google for several years. The longer it takes for a page to load, the more likely the user is to click back to the search. Studies show that most users will wait for around 6 seconds before they abandon a site.
As Google focuses on providing a great user experience, they track the bouncerate, and sites that have a high abandonment percentage generally achieve lower rankings.
Some of the main way to resolve issues with Page Speed are:
- Use fast, UK-based hosting.
- Optimise image file sizes as larger images take longer to load.
- Update redirects regularly to reduce redirect chains.
- Add browser caching.
- Minify CSS and JS, and prioritise the most important elements of the page during the page load.
The best way to check how Google ranks the page speed for your website is by using the PageSpeed Insights tool. The tool analyses the content of the webpage and provides a list of technical recommendations to focus on.
In July 2018, Google switched to a mobile first ranking system. Rather than using the desktop version of your website to decide where it should rank, Google instead focuses on the quality of the mobile website.
Some of the main issues that users experience whist browsing a website using a mobile device are:
- Websites being too slow to load (see above).
- Formatting that makes the content difficult to view.
- Issues that stop the site from performing as expected.
Some ways to avoid these issues are:
- Create a mobile version of the website with shorter content and mobile optimised images.
- Use a special mobile friendly hamburger navigation bar to save space and make it easier to click the options.
- Optimise your website for one handed use by prioritising essential information and minimising the amount of data required when completing forms.
- Disable pop ups; not only are they annoying, Google may penalise you if it feels they are ‘intrusive interstitials’, that is, pop ups that cover the main content and need to be dismissed to to access the content.
High Quality Content
Over the last few years, Google has been using a set of quality guidelines called E-A-T to assess the quality of a website’s content. E-A-T stands for expertise, authority and trust.
Your website should include high-quality content that demonstrates your expertise and authority, this will help to build trust with your visitors and encourage them to interact and convert.
Using a tool such as the Google keyword planner will help you to gain a better understanding of what your target audience is looking for, this will allow your to create content that addresses those needs.
Some additional things to consider when creating high-quality content for your website are:
- Formatting your text so that it is easy to read, especially if a user is scan reading. Using headers (including header tags) makes it faster for the reader to locate the information they are looking for.
- Add in relevant links to authoritative websites that support the information you have provided. Review these links regularly to ensure they are still working.
The website’s navigation is essential as it helps both the website users and Google to find information on your website.
The main navigation menu should follow a simple structure, aiming to provide the information the user is searching for in the fewest possible clicks.
Site navigation also applies to links in the content, which should be easy to identify through the use of colour and underlining as well as any image menus and buttons.
By making the navigation as simple as possible, you’re improving the user experience, something which Google rewards with better search engine rankings.