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In his attempt to fix some confusing wording Google has been using, Matt Cutts, Google’s head of webspam, used his latest Webmaster Help video to clarify that page load speed is not any more important for rankings on mobile than it is for desktop searches.

This comes after Google has been publicly emphasizing the need for sites to load quickly, noting that mobile users are highly likely to leave a page if it doesn’t load fast enough. While Google isn’t backing off of that stance, Cutts wanted to make it clear that there isn’t a difference in how this speed is ranked from mobile to desktop.

If all things are equal, meaning all other aspects of two sites are ranked evenly, the site that loads faster will almost certainly be given the higher ranking in search results by Google, but that is true on smartphones and desktop computers alike. It is also just a sensible part of the algorithm, as slow pages will likely lose a large number of visitors just during the loading time, making it a lower-value site.

But, as internet speeds across devices and across the globe vary, Cutts said Google doesn’t have plans to give an exact amount of seconds your site should load in, but if it becomes obvious to Google that mobile users are getting more frustrated by slow sites than their desktop counterparts, they may consider weighting loading speed more for mobile searches. It just isn’t the case yet, and there are no plans currently to make it so.

Google’s Matt Cutts recently made it very clear that usability is going to be one of their most important ranking factors moving forward, as they emphasize site speed and quality design as the two aspects that aren’t getting the attention they deserve.

Google isn’t the first to pinpoint how important usability is either. It has been one of the most common discussions in web design since its inception, while slowly becoming more important to users.

Quality usability is also at the heart of the of all the biggest start-up success stories. Quality products can be ignored if people get frustrated with the website, while the good or great products that are easy to access or use only attract more people and cement the public perception of a given brand.

You would think usability would have been boiled down to a science by now, or at least be such common sense that it wouldn’t be a big issue, but if it was so easy there wouldn’t be so many of the same usability mistakes all over the web, from big companies to the smallest mom-and-pop shops with an online presence.

Christian Vasile deconstructed these popular mistakes last week and offered options for those that seem to be repeatedly rejecting all the currents standards. Most of these, you’ll notice as bad decisions before you’ve gotten past the headline, but maybe you’ll be surprised to find that you’ve been continuously implementing one of the most hated design techniques around.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in SEO is optimizing your website at the expense of the audience. While it may help get people onto your page, when visitors are met with a page filled with too much content on a bad design, they leave and you lose a sale.

With Google’s latest emphasis on usability, over optimizing may actually hurt your search engine rankings anyways. Jay Taylor recently shared some tips to make sure you are creating websites that customers and search engines alike will love. If you want to get people to come to your page and stay, follow these important rules.

  1. Understand Your Customer – First and foremost, the internet is now more about the user than it ever has been. Google includes aspects of usability such as speed, design, and content in their algorithms as strong indicators of quality sites. Not only that, but obviously you should be trying to appeal to your actual customers, not just your own tastes. The way you percieve your brand may not be the same as how your customers understand your product, so you want to find out why they choose you over your competitors. Once you know that, you know what to play up when introducing potential customers to your brand.
  2. Websites Don’t Have To Be Beautiful – That’s a bit of an overstatement, but it is far more important for a website to be usable and interesting to your target audience than it is to have a website that looks like a work of art. Use visuals that appeal to your customers in a way that solidifies your credibility and appeal to your customers. You want your website to look professional and be extremely usable, not unapproachably artistic.
  3. Create Great Content With a Purpose – The days of creating content stuffed with keywords solely to appease search engines is long gone. Your content should have a purpose to your reader and be aimed at actually informing your audience rather than rambling with specific words to attract crawlers. Poor grammar, unnecessary vocabulary usage, and awkwardly mechanical text turn people off, and can lose you customers. Instead, make sure your content has a purpose, value to your customer, and inspires action of some sort.
  4. Provide Easy-to-Use Navigation – User-friendly navigation is essential to allowing your customers to quickly and easily find what they’re looking for on your site, but it also allows search engines to more effectively index your site. There should be navigation in the header and footer so that customers always have access to it, and you might consider a drop-down menu in the top navigation if you have a lot of pages.
  5. Measure and Improve – Keep track of your key performance indicators such as conversions, contacts from the website, and possibly purchases to see how any new changes may be affecting your performance. You should also be using Google Analytics to watch where your customers are coming from, and what may be causing you to lose conversions.