22 easy ways to improve your blog’s user experience
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UX, or User Experience, is a hugely important part of SEO because Google prioritizes sites with a good UX in its search rankings. But how do you ensure your blog gives your readers a good UX? In this article I am sharing 22 easy ways to improve your blog’s user experience…
What is UX?
UX stands for User eXperience and refers to the experience users have on your website. If your website has a good UX, it means visitors to your site get what they need and enjoy the experience.
Why is UX important for SEO?
UX is a hugely important part of SEO, because UX is a major Google ranking factor. Why? Because Google wants to send its users to the best possible result for their search query. And that means Google wants to send its users to a website which delivers an excellent user experience.
Google measures UX via ‘user signals’. User signals are behavioural patterns which Google uses to understand user experience. For example, if a user clicks on a particular search result and almost immediately comes back to the search engine results page, this is a user signal which suggests that particular search result was not a good fit for that search term.
If, on the other hand, a user clicks on a link in Google, then stays on the website in question for a long time, clicks on several links on that website and never clicks back into Google… that’s an indication that that website provided a very good result for that search query.
By measuring user experience in this way, Google can see which blog posts provide the best UX for any given query and consequently promote those posts in the search results page. So, by focusing on improving your blog’s UX you will improve your rankings and get more Google traffic!
22 easy ways to improve your blog’s UX
1. Actually answer the question
The number one way you can improve your blog’s UX is by being the best answer to the search query you are targeting.
Think about it logically… if someone types something into Google it’s because they have some sort of problem or question. So, if Google includes your blog post in search results for that question, will they get the answer they were looking for? If they do, they are likely to stay on your blog post for a long time, maybe click on a few of your links and never go back to Google – thereby sending lots of lovely positive user signals back to Google that your answer is indeed the best result for that search query.
But if your blog post doesn’t really give the answer, only gives half the answer or makes it really difficult to find the answer, then users are likely to ping back to Google to see if one of the other results on the results page might give them a better answer. This sends negative user signals back to Google and your blog is likely to be demoted in the search results for that query.
READ MORE >>> How to write the perfect blog post (for search engines AND your readers)
2. Answer the question early
This one feels kind of counter-intuitive. If you want to get people to stay on your blog post for a long time, surely it’s best to bury the answer at the bottom of the blog post, right?
But no! Actually the opposite is true.
Think about the way you behave when you search for something on Google. You click on a result and quickly check it out. You make a snap decision on whether it’s going to help you with your problem or not. If you feel it will help you with your problem, you stay and spend more time on that blog post.
But if that blog post doesn’t get to the point pretty quickly, you’ll leave and go straight back to Google to find a better answer – you don’t have time to read every word on the page to try and find the information you were after, right?
Well, it’s the same for all your blog visitors from Google – they are going to make their decision about whether to stay on your site or not very quickly, so make it super easy for them to get the information they came for… don’t bury it!
3. Include Jump Links
‘Jump Links’ or ‘Anchor Links’ allow a reader to jump to the part of the blog post they are most interested in. This is a great way to help visitors from Google know that your blog post is going to answer their question… and to help them to find that answer easily.
This is not necessary for every type of blog post, but you might want to consider it on longer, more wordy blog posts and/or where the information a user is most likely to want has to be lower on the page for some reason.
A good example of this is with recipe blogs. Adding a ‘jump to recipe’ button at the top of your recipe posts significantly improves UX, since the number 1 thing your readers want is the recipe. After quickly scanning the recipe to see if it is what they wanted, readers may well then go back to look at the rest of the post for more information and context.
READ MORE >>> How to create an anchor link to jump to a specific part of a blog post
4. Use lots of subheadings
Another way to help your readers find the information they want as quickly and easily as possible is to use lots of subheadings.
Subheadings are brilliant for UX as they help readers quickly understand what a blog post is about and whether it is right for them. It also helps them locate the specific information they want quickly and easily. AND it breaks the text up making it easier and more enjoyable to read.
READ MORE >>> How to use H tags correctly for SEO and your readers
5. Write shorter paragraphs
Another way to improve UX is to write shorter paragraphs.
It’s important to understand that writing a blog post is very different to other types of writing – for example writing an essay or a report.
Blog writing requires short snappy paragraphs.
Because people read blogs in a very different way to other forms of writing. People skim read blog posts… often only reading the first part of every paragraph. And blog readers are also very easily put off by dauntingly long paragraphs.
It’s also really important to remember that the majority of your readers will be reading your blog on their mobile phone… What looks like a nice easy-to-read paragraph on your lovely large desktop computer looks like an impenetrable wall of text on a mobile phone!
So, forget what your English teacher at school taught you and start writing short snappy paragraphs… your readers will thank you for it and Google will reward you with more readers!
6. Write shorter sentences
For similar reasons it’s important to use short sentences. Short sentences are easier to read and digest. They also give your blog a more informal/conversational style and, again, look less daunting… especially on mobile devices!
You don’t have to go completely mad with this one. Just try to avoid those epic long, overly-wordy sentences that make it difficult for your readers to follow your train of thought.
The Yoast plugin is super helpful here as it will tell you if your text uses too many long sentences and, if you click on the ‘eye’ icon, it will highlight those sentences, so you can easily find them.
READ MORE >>> How to get a good readability score in Yoast (and why you really want to!)
7. Use white space
Using plenty of white space between your sections makes your blog post much easier and more enjoyable to read. It also makes the division between sections much clearer.
This is a design trick as old as the hills and you see it all the time in magazines, newspapers, books and on well-designed websites.
Unfortunately, there has been a recent development that has meant many blogs have drastically reduced their white space… And that recent development is Gutenberg (AKA the WordPress Block Editor).
Unlike with the Classic Editor (or even a regular Word document!), you can’t just hit ‘return’ in Gutenberg to get some white space between your sections. The result of this is that blog posts created in Gutenberg usually look very squished up – often uncomfortably so! This makes your blog post harder and less enjoyable to read… and this negative effect on your UX could be having a negative effect on your search engine traffic!
Fortunately, there is a really easy fix… and that’s spacers! Spacer blocks allow you to put that white space back in between your sections (just like hitting return a couple of times, like you probably did back in Classic Editor days!)
I use a 40px spacer in between my H2 sections and a 20px spacer in between my H3 sections (as you can see demonstrated in this blog post.) A food rule of thumb is that the white space between your sections should be bigger than the white space between your paragraphs.
If you are not sure how to do this, head over to my YT video on Gutenberg, where I walk you through exactly how to add spacers blocks to your blog posts. (You can fast forward to 9 minutes, when I start taking about spacers!)
8. Use images (wisely)
Images are a great way of breaking up your text, illustrating your points and making your blog posts easier and more enjoyable to read… which will all help to improve your blog’s UX. To take advantage of this, try to include several images in each blog post.
HOWEVER… don’t go mad here! While images are a great way to make your text more pleasant to read, they will also have a negative effect on your page speed. And a slow website is not good for your UX either.
So do be reasonably sparing with your images and make sure you take steps to mitigate the slowing effects of those images, such as using a compression plugin and a CDN.
9. Break up your text
Images are one way of breaking up your text to make it easier and more enjoyable to read. But there are other ways too. For example:
- Numbered lists
- Coloured text
- Coloured boxes
Use as many of these devices as possible in each of your blog posts to make your text more enjoyable and less daunting to read. (Again, you will see this all the time in print media… for exactly the same reason!)
10. Use an easy-to-read font
Using an easy-to-read font is HUGELY important for UX. If someone is squinting to read your text and struggling to work out what each letter is, you can bet your bottom dollar they are not going to stick around for long… they will ping straight back to Google to find a website what doesn’t require so much effort!
So, take a long hard look at your font and work out if you need to make some changes… this could include:
- Increasing the font size (Google recommends a minimum of 16px)
- Increasing the line height (Google recommends 1.5)
- Changing the font colour – (Make it black or dark grey… anything else is hard to read!)
- Increasing the font weight
- Picking an entirely different font
Depending on your theme, you may be able to make these changes using the Customizer. If that is not possible, you will need to edit your CSS.
Not sure how to edit your CSS? Mediavine have a couple of great articles on this subject:
- Increase Font Size, and Increase SEO & RPM Along With It
- Increase Your Line Height and Improve RPM and Readability
Alternatively, you could contact your theme designer to see if they can help.
11. Add helpful links
Adding helpful links is great for UX for two reasons. Firstly, helpful links make your blog post more helpful… and a more helpful blog post is obviously going to deliver a better user experience.
For example, you will have seen all the way through this blog post I have added links to other posts, both on my site and on external sites, to point you towards extra reading and resources.
But adding plenty of internal links also improves your UX because when users click on those links, that means users are staying on your site longer, interacting on with your content and not pinging back to the next search result on Google… All of this sends Google those lovely ‘user signals’ that your reader is having a lovely user experience on your website!
READ MORE >>> How to use internal linking to boost your SEO
12. Make links clear
But it’s no good having all those links on your site if you don’t make them nice and clear. Make sure you at least use a different colour for your links, and preferably you should also make them bold or underlined so they really stand out from the rest of your text (and to help colour blind people!)
13. Edit, edit, edit!
As I’ve mentioned many times in this blog post, a huge part of UX is making your text easy and enjoyable to read. A blog post that is full of waffle, keeps going off on tangents, doesn’t flow well and/or is littered with spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes is definitely not easy and enjoyable to read!
And the best way to ensure you don’t commit any of these UX ‘crimes’? Edit, edit, edit!
I always recommend 3 rounds of editing:
- Content (Well structured? Free from waffle? Answers the question?)
- Readability (Ideally read your blog post out loud… does it flow?)
- SPAG (Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar!)
Just taking that little bit of extra time to edit your blog posts will do wonders for your UX!
READ MORE >>> How to edit a blog post (tips from an ex English teacher turned blogger) PLUS CHECKLIST
14. Don’t go mad with ads!
Ads are a great way of making money from a blog… but they pretty much always have a negative effect on UX… because too many ads will annoy your readers and slow your site down.
So what’s the solution?
Well, the first thing to do is ensure that, if you do have ads on your site, you choose a well-run ad management company that really focuses on delivering attractive, speedy ads and which gives you lots of control over the placement of your ads… My recommendation here is Mediavine. (I have Mediavine ads on my food blog, Easy Peasy Foodie.)
The second is to not go too mad with your ads – especially in-content ads. Use the controls to adjust the placement of your ads so that you can keep them at a level which doesn’t annoy your readers too much.
Unfortunately, there will always be a tension between UX and ads, since the best UX will always be no ads! But by using a good ad management company and by using the ad placement controls to manage the frequency, positioning and number of ads on your blog posts, you should be able to find a happy balance.
And remember to focus on overall revenue not RPM. Putting a bajillion ads on your site will give you a lovely high RPM… but will result in a terrible UX and consequently reduced search engine traffic. On the flipside, fewer ads may actually lead to a higher revenue, since the drop in RPM will be compensated by an improved UX… and therefore increased search engine traffic.
READ MORE >>> How to make money with Mediavine ads
READ MORE >>> 12 easy ways to grow your Mediavine income
15. Get rid of annoying popups
In a similar vein, get rid of annoying popups on your site. Most popups give a terrible UX to your readers. The popups that are most annoying are those which pop immediately (before your poor reader has even had a chance to read a word of your blog post!) and those which take up a large portion of your screen. And a definite no-no is MULTIPLE popups!
The absolute best kind of popups are EXIT INTENT popups. Because these only pop when your reader is leaving your website anyway, they are much less intrusive (and also highly effective, leading to a 200 – 600% increase in email signups*!)
16. Improve your blog’s site speed
Another HUGE way you can improve your blog’s UX is by improving your site speed. One thing that has user’s pinging back to Google in their droves is a slow website.
The stats are scary:
- 47% of people expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less
- 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load
Fortunately, there are lots of things you can do to improve your blog’s site speed. For example:
- Move to a better host
- Use an image compression plugin (e.g. ShortPixel*)
- Use a caching plugin (e.g. WP Rocket*)
- Use a CDN (e.g. CloudFlare)
- Remove unnecessary plugins and themes
For more information on this topic, head to my post on 11 easy ways to improve site speed that ANYONE can do!
17. Work on your site structure
And it’s not just site speed that’s important. Site structure is also a vitally important part of UX. A good site structure will help your readers navigate round your site easily to find the information they are most interested in… meaning they stay on your site longer and have a better experience!
Site structure includes things like:
For more information on this topic, check out my post on How to optimize your blog’s site structure for SEO
18. Make the search bar easy to find
If someone arrives on your blog from Google, then types something into the search bar on your blog and goes on to check out a few of the results of that search… that’s all sending great user signals back to Google that they are having a great experience on your blog… So, whatever you do, make sure your search bar is easy to find!
Now, you might think your search bar is easy to find… but that’s because you know where it is! The best way to test whether your search bar is easy to find is to ask a friend… preferably a friend who is not very tech savvy… How fast can they find it? If they are having trouble, it’s a good sign that your readers are probably struggling too!
And don’t forget to check on mobile devices… Your search bar might be easy to find on a big ol’ desktop computer… but what about on a mobile phone?
19. Check your blog on a mobile phone
It’s vitally important to remember that the majority of your readers will be reading your blog on a mobile device. The trouble is most of us do most of our blogging on a laptop or desktop computer. This means that it’s very easy to focus all of our UX efforts on the desktop/laptop experience and forget that our mobile readers are having a totally different (and often vasty inferior!) experience.
Fortunately, there is a simple antidote: make it part of your blogging routine to frequently check your blog out on a mobile phone… what is the UX like there? Could it be improved?
And, in fact, you can go one better and actually use your blog as your readers do. For example, I often cook my own recipes from my recipe blog Easy Peasy Foodie and, when I do, I always use my mobile phone to access the recipe (exactly as 77% of my readers do!). That way I am constantly testing the experience my readers are having with my site and I can make adjustments to my UX based on that ‘real life’ experience.
20. Ask a friend for an honest opinion
One of the problems with UX it is that it’s very difficult to be objective about your own website. We know our own sites like the back of our hands… everything is easy and obvious to us, and we become blind to the things others find irritating (like ads and popups!). As a result, we can often think our own site’s UX is much better than it actually is.
A great way to get feedback on your blog’s UX is to ask a friend to take a look… or better still, several friends! Ask them to poke around on your site and give you their honest experience on how easy it is to use.
You could take this to the next level by setting them a few challenges and/or giving them a questionnaire to fill in. You could even use the headings in this blog post to help you come up with those challenges/questions!
21. Work on your E-A-T
Another, often overlooked, aspect of UX is E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trust). If a user arrives on your website and does not feel they can trust your website or feels that you have insufficient expertise, they are highly likely to ping straight back to Google and check out another more reliable source for the answer to their problem.
E-A-T is also a ranking factor in its own right, so working on improving your E-A-T will have a double whammy effect.
READ MORE >>> 15 easy ways to improve your blog’s E-A-T score
22. Finish with a CTA
And finally, don’t leave your readers hanging! Make sure you always give your readers something to do when they’ve finished reading your blog post… In other words always end your blog posts with a call to action (CTA).
This could be:
- Asking them to comment
- Giving them a list of further reading
- Asking them to share your post on social media
- Asking them to follow you on social media
- Inviting them to sign up for a free opt-in offer
A CTA at the end of your post will encourage your readers to stay longer on your site and interact with its content, thus sending those all-important positive ranking signals back to Google.
So, to show you that I practise what I preach, here are my CTAs for this post…
Over to you
What have you done to improve the UX of your blog? Has this post given you any new ideas to try? Let me know in the comments below!
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