10 years ago, SEO was simple. In order for your site to list among the first positions in Google, all you had to do was cram as many keywords as possible in the content of the pages and buy as many external links, most of the times spammy, from the so called "link farms". Nowadays, search engines, with Google ahead, use hundreds of ranking factors in order to rank sites in the results pages.
With the periodic algorithm updates, Google started to emphasize more and more on User Experience, a factor that SEO specialists need to take into consideration in the strategies they conceive and implement for their clients. How easy is it for users to navigate on your site? Did you ensure a quality content, so that users spend as much time as possible on it? Is your site secured and do your pages have an optimal loading speed, both on desktop and on mobile?
and UX (User Experience) there is a "partnership" that works like this: SEO addresses to search engines, while UX - to the site's visitors, but both have a common goal, that of offering the best experience to users.
Here are the most important elements of a site which directly impact both SEO factors, as well as UX indicators:
Headings have the role of helping both users, as well as Google crawlers understand the structure of a webpage's content. In HTML language, headings are known as tags (<h1>, <h2>, <h3> etc), indicating both to visitors, as well as search engines what is the logical structure of the content and what are the most important sections.
It is recommended that every page of the site contains only one <h1> tag, indicating to Google which is the general topic of the page. Usually, the <h1> tag is placed in the first part of the content, in the header side, being comparable with the chapter titles of a book. Including a keyword in the section of the site which has the <h1> tag contributes to better positions of that certain page in SERP.
The other headings (from <h2> to <h6>) follow naturally after the <h1> tag and help further structuring and organising the page content. They can be used multiple times within a page, if necessary, but they are not mandatory.
The structure of the site and the ease of navigation
Although, during the last years, this subject was excessively debated, there are still a lot of sites which don't respect a few general rules when it comes to the impact a site's structure has on users' experience. Furthermore, the structure of a site is not important only for visitors, but for search engines as well since it serves as a map for crawlers.
Read more about on page SEO
It's important to take into consideration that visitors will not always land on your website through its homepage. This is why it's recommended that your website has a logical and well structured link architecture, so that the user can easily navigate throughout the pages, regardless of the landing page they entered the site from.
User signals will become a more and more important ranking factor. Do you have posts on Google My Business that users click on? Do visitors of your site's mobile version use the "click to call" function in order to contact you by phone? Are there positive reviews from users and, more importantly, do you answer them?
Although Google specialists deny that UX indicators such as the time spent on site or the bounce rate are ranking factors with direct impact on a website's positions on Google, practice has shown that there is a significant correlation between users' behavior while navigating and SERP positions. Simply put, Google sees and knows everything! Each action visitors make on your website and each interaction between you and them signal Google that your website has a content they are interested in.
Page loading speed
A website's loading speed, especially for the mobile version, has been a Google ranking factor for a long time. The Page Speed Insights
tool from Google is very useful for identifying problems concerning the loading speed, while also offering suggestions for improving it. You'd be surprised, but even the websites of well known brands have page loading speed issues. They are most of the times caused by the photo and video content which is uploaded on the site without being optimized.
Optimizing the website for mobile
Users' experience on a site's mobile version is not only about the optimal loading speed, but it's defined as a whole, from the design elements and the ease with which users interact with the site's elements, to framing the text content and the functionality of the menu buttons.
By updating the mobile friendly algorithm in 2015 and launching the mobile first index in 2018, Google made it clear that websites' mobile version became prioritary in ranking them in SERP.
The ease with which visitors navigate through your website's pages is one of the most important elements of user experience on mobile. They need to rapidly and easily find exactly what they need, whether we are talking about a certain kind of content or the completion of an order. Each element which influences the users behavior while navigating has an impact on SEO performances.