As the sophistication of machine learning continues to dominate the relevance of search results, user experience (UX) has become one of the most important search ranking factors. In fact, some SEO experts will refer to user experience as the fourth major pillar of search engine optimization, on par with content, linking, and technical SEO.

Others will argue that search engine ranking factors are complicated and consist of over 200 variables, and that all of these factors ultimately culminate into one overriding factor: user experience. Whether you subscribe to the former or latter SEO definition of user experience, one thing is certain, UX has become a critical element in determining the ranking of your website on the search engines.


User experience is defined as providing the best possible customer journey for every single one of your web visitors.

One of the most common mistakes is considering user experience as starting at your home page. Although this may be true for many web visitors, in most cases user experience begins on pages besides the home page. When determining where to begin, your UX analysis should start with a review of your analytics and the most popular visitor entry points to your site.



UX is more than navigation or load speed – it includes the entire user journey and experience.

Although there are many user experience metrics to consider, the most important factors are time on site (dwell time), bounce rate (how many users enter and leave the site from the same page), and page views (the number of pages a user visits during a web session).

Just as Google uses a quality score for paid search, it is assumed that their organic algorithm also scores pages by click through rate, time on site, and the number of users returning to the organic search results, presumably looking for a better search result. Other key factors to consider are conversion rates, channels, device types, and frequency of visits.


The following are some of the most important factors that you should consider:


How is the content on your page organized? Consider the amount of white space and how easy it is for the content to be consumed. When you think of content, think also of video and images – not only text. The freshness and quality of your content are both extremely important user experience ranking factors.

Image Density

Depending on the category and industry, image density varies. If, for instance, your site is an ecommerce site or a travel site, the density of images will be far greater than for a legal site.

Website Layout

The layout of the website includes factors such as the location of the menu, the use of colors, and the ease of use for desktop, tablet, and mobile users. Font size and location of menu items are exceptionally critical on mobile devices.

Load Speed

Google especially has been fixated on mobile load speed. Mobile users have increasingly short attention spans and have little patience for slow loading web pages. Improving load speed is often the easiest user experience factor to identify and fix.

Internal Linking

Search engines encourage easy navigation between pages. Logically linking pages into themes can help improve overall user experience and relevancy.


Usually ads detract from the overall user experience and have a negative correlation to overall rankings. If your business model is based on serving ads, it is important to consider density, location, and the types of ads that you serve your users.


Two important trends are impacting user experience on mobile. Firstly, the number of mobile users, and secondly, the move by Google to divide their index between mobile and desktop. As more users embrace mobile, the search engines are more focused on the overall user experience. Responsive websites where users experience the same content for desktop and mobile will ultimately become a thing of the past. Mobile users expect fast loading pages and content that can be consumed on a small screen. This means more video and interactive content that can easily be navigated by using a finger rather than a mouse.


User experience may be tested using conversion optimization – i.e., split or multivariate testing. Typical tests include:


Different themes and layouts

White space

Call to action

Content layout and structure

Risk reversals


Image layout



At National Positions, we begin by considering two important factors:


Begin by considering your competition. Remember that your user experience needs to simply be better than that of your competition. Begin by typing in your top search queries in Google and review the winners for all the factors mentioned above. Repeat the process on multiple devices and note the results. Now compare this to your user web page and consider conversion analysis tests to improve your overall user experience.

Analytics Data

At National Positions, we use a program called the Digital Conversion Growth Pack to view real-time user site navigation. Using an application like this allows you to watch videos of actual user experience on multiple devices, historically or in real time. Heat maps and form analytics also highlight user challenges, allowing you to improve the overall UX.

Next, it is recommended that you dive down into your analytics data to identify the top abandonment pages, pages that have high traffic, and even pages with high conversion rates that could be optimized further.

Analytics and testing is an iterative process that can identify a series of ongoing improvement opportunities for growth.


  • Landing Page Optimization
  • Conversion Rate Optimization
  • Conversion Growth Pack
  • Behavioral Psychology
  • Human Factors
  • Pricing Strategies
  • Psychology Triggers


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