With each Google update moving towards providing more user-friendly and user-focused results, it’s clear that UX is becoming more and more important from a search perspective.

This has been further confirmed by the (unplanned) release of Google’s latest UX playbook, an e-book filled with scientifically tested and proven advice for increasing sales through UX best practice.

In Epiphany’s UX & CRO team, we’ve been taking a look at Google’s playbook and its best practice advice to align it with the tests and studies we’ve carried out for our own clients. Let’s take a look at how Google’s advice matches up to our own examples in action:

Google Playbook: Clear CTAs with a value proposition at every point in the funnel

In order to help customers through the sale as quickly as possible, it’s important to keep directing them with clear call to actions and value propositions at every stage of the funnel. This keeps customers informed and clear about what they will receive or the benefits they will gain from shopping with you.

Epiphany test:

We tested a sticky USP banner at the top of one of our client’s checkout page across all devices, combined with a ‘Continue’ vs ‘Continue securely’ CTA and saw a 4.9% increase in conversion rate.

Google Playbook: Turn off carousel

Google recommends getting rid of homepage carousels as the negative effects far outweigh the benefits. They can be mistaken for banners and so are often ignored by customers as the chances of the information in the banner matching what the customer is looking for is extremely rare.

Epiphany test:

We tested a turned off carousel on a client website which resulted in an increased progression of users reaching product pages.

Google Playbook: Add urgency elements

Particularly on product pages, urgency can be a powerful motivator to drive visitors to convert and purchase products rather than further deliberating. If customers are left to deliberate on a purchase for too long, they can overthink it, become overwhelmed or simply forget about the purchase so adding elements such as a countdown clock, scarcity or benefits can significantly improve the chances of getting a conversion.

Epiphany test:

We found that adding urgency messaging to product pages for our clients with phrases such as ‘only 3 left in stock’ and ‘order by 1pm for next day delivery’ delivered an 8.5% uplift in conversion rate.

In addition, a sale banner countdown for a client increased user conversion by 13%. Whilst we saw positive results from these urgency messages, they should always be approached with caution and used sparingly to ensure intended results.

Users can sometimes be sceptical of the truth around urgency messaging which means they may have the opposite effect.

Urgency elements

Google Playbook: Ability to filter/sort products on category pages

Particularly for websites with large product ranges, providing visitors with the opportunity to filter or sort the products on a category page makes it easier for them to find exactly what they’re looking for.

Breaking products down into category, size, price and colour helps visitors to break them down to suit their interests and preferences and helps to reduce the number of products they have to scan before finding what they want.

Epiphany test:

Implementing a filter/sort function on a client’s website helped to drive a 9.8% increase in conversion rate showing that users prefer to be able to narrow results down based on their preferences or interests.

Google Playbook: Checkout as a guest and value proposition for sign ups

Google has found that 35% of users will abandon the checkout if a guest checkout option is not included.

Requiring customers to create an account creates friction in the checkout process and leads many users to abandon their cart. In addition, new users may feel uncomfortable with sharing more than the basic contact details with brands and so providing them with the choice is much more likely to lead to conversions.

Epiphany test:

When testing this, our results showed that making the checkout as guest option more prominent showed no results.

On the the other hand, making the benefits of signing up and creating an account more prominent and easy to read resulting in a 6.6% increase in conversion rate.

Rather than providing the checkout as guest option, we found that driving excitement around registering and creating an account was more effective and lead to more checkouts and more accounts created.

These results show that letting customers know more about the benefits of signing up with you and what they might receive if they do will increase the likelihood of them signing up rather than checking out as a guest.

For a separate client, we tested adding USPs on the sign up/account page to highlight the features they receive when creating an account and saw a 186% increase in the number of users signing up.

Google Playbook: Descriptive CTAs

Using descriptive CTAs on a site helps to provide a frictionless shopping experience for customers by telling them what they need to do next in order to complete their purchase.

Epiphany test:

When testing CTAs, we found that rewording CTAs on product pages to phrases such as ‘Continue’ and ‘Add to Basket’, which directed users to the basket, generated a 76% basket to transaction progression rate.

Descriptive CTAs

Google Playbook: Exit points limited after cart

Whether your conversions are based around customers checking out or filling in forms, it’s important to limit the number of exit points which allow them to click away from the checkout.

Having too many distractions can prevent conversions because allowing customers to click away can lead them to forget what they were doing.

Epiphany test:

We’re currently testing the removal of the navigation bar on the contact page for one of our clients and have already found that form conversions have increased as a result.

Removing exit points

Why is it important to test these elements?

Although these elements have been proven to show results across a wide variety of websites, it’s still important to test them when implementing changes to your own website.

Some of these recommendations cannot be justified upfront which means that although something may not look visually correct, users may or may not find it distracting.

Testing also helps to reduce the risk of lost ROI and potential customers which can often happen when implementing changes blindly without knowing which elements do and do not work.

This provides the opportunity to learn more about your site users and their behaviours, which eventually makes the optimisation process easier. Testing allows you to segment visitor groups and test them individually whilst identifying macro intentions and micro conversions.

The relationship between SEO and UX is growing closer and Google’s most recent algorithm updates have already started focusing on users, their intent and how it corresponds to the content presented on landing pages.

This emphasises the importance of A/B testing when it comes to optimising websites and ensuring that, once users arrive on your website from search engine results, the user experience is as frictionless as possible in order to maximise the number of conversions.