Why UX is more important than SEO

Google rewards good Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) by bringing users to your website – but what about the User Experience (UX) when they get there.

There’s an obsessive focus on SEO for websites – but without good UX it’s dead traffic that wont convert to sales or engage.

So why does UX matter so much and what can you do about it? 

Why UX?

When Google says “content is king” the truest way to follow this advice is through good UX.

UX is about providing the best possible experience for the users – this includes how users find and interact with your content.

If users have a good experience they’re more likely to interact with more content, return or refer it to others.

Simply put – nobody enjoys a bad website – and nobody is going to recommend it to others.

What can you do?

Think UX first

I’m not suggesting to forget about SEO – instead I think UX should come first and pave the way for SEO.


I’ve spent a considerable amount of time auditing websites for WCAG 2.0 accessibility compliance.

It’s not something normally associated with UX and SEO – but at the end of the day  accessibility standards make websites easier to use for all users by ensuring properly marked up HTML, adequate font contrast and defining how design should behave.

You should aim to make your website compatible with WCAG 2.0 – level AA.

Site speed

Optimising a websites load time has long been in the top SEO tips – but really, it’s a matter of UX.

The expectation for “fast” loading websites is ever growing – not that long ago 5 seconds was the benchmark, but now it’s 2 – 3 seconds.

If your website takes more than five seconds to load you’ve got immediate work to do to reduce this.

In my experience the best way to achieve a fast website is dedicated VPS hosting – optimising the server for speed first, then looking at the code (e.g. too many plugins, bloated theme).

I use and recommend DigitalOcean – their $5 a month VPS is plenty fast enough for a small to medium blog (up to 15,000 hits a day).

Mobile friendly

Over 52% of traffic is estimated to be from mobile devices now – a number that has continued to increase year after year.

This means that a significant amount of users are expecting a design that is catered to small screens.

This is best done using responsive design – where the design of the website adapts to the size of the device. You may also want to look into implementing Google AMP – however it’s not something that works well for all content types and websites.

Make sure your website:

  • works well on a range of different mobile devices – test with as many devices as possible
  • is thumb friendly – large clickable areas (buttons and images)
  • uses a clean and large font – Verdana and Arial are good choices
  • uses navigation elements (breadcrumbs, menus) that work on mobile devices
  • is clean and clutter free – consider using icons instead of words where appropriate

Design for the user

If you think Google doesn’t notice or care when websites use design that annoy and frustrate users think again.

UX is becoming a focus area for Google – making changes to their SERP (Search Engine Results Pages) and Chrome browser to penalise bad UX and empower users that have it forced on them.