In the past couple of months, we’ve seen news that Google has further changed its algorithm to take into account the usability factors of a website when deciding how to rank it in the search engine results. According to a report published in many outlets, including Search Engine Land, sites that block the valuable “above the fold” area of a webpage, where a majority of visitors stay, will be penalized with lower rankings on Google. This comes on the heels of many other challenges to poor usability that Google has issued over the years: you already get penalized for other usability faux pas such as
- Short times on site
- Long page load times
- Few pages per visit
- Low percent of return visitors
And Google AdWords ratings have taken mobile UX into account for many more months now. The user experience writing is on the wall for sites—offer a poor user experience, and you won’t be as visible in the SERPS, nor will you get ideal positioning and CPCs for your AdWords. So what is a web marketer to do? Do what you always have—ensure that your website is optimized for the people who come to the site. Keep the interesting things you want people to see above the fold. Encourage depth of visit with ease of navigation. Break information into smaller, logical chunks. Look into flexible grids before it’s too late, as mobile traffic climbs as a percent of all traffic. Read usability experts such as the legendary Jacob Nielsen and Boston’s own wonderful Jared Spool, Josh Porter, and Dani Nordin. Get with the usability program, because it’s not just Google that’s watching, but your users.