While you may have focused all your energies on understanding Google’s search algorithms and ranking signals, you may have ignored one important aspect that should be considered as an important SEO factor – User Satisfaction.
However, satisfaction is difficult to measure technically since even though most search engines may have discovered ways to measure it, they will not share their techniques with the outside world. Google engineers have closely monitored the behavior of their users once they display search results and have discovered that users that employed a “long click”, i.e. when they clicked on a search result, preferably the top site, and stayed at that website for a long time, then this translated into user satisfaction.
If, however, they employed a “short click”, i.e. when they clicked on a site only to bounce out and visit another, then this indicated that they were not happy with the results. This behavior is also called as “pogosticking” as the user jumps between different sites in a bid to get satisfactory information to their queries.
Google did release its Search Quality Rating Guidelines in 2012 to rate search results, but due to its limited reach came up with a new indexing system to calculate user satisfaction, popularly known as Panda. You now need to not only adhere to Panda’s regulations to get higher rankings, but also need to satisfy the needs of all users that arrive at your website with hopes of satisfying their typed queries.
You can take quite a few steps to improve user satisfaction. You can begin by taking a survey of all visitors that drop-in at your website. You can use Google’s new and free customer satisfaction survey for site owners that can be embedded in your website. The survey will ask visitors about satisfaction levels at your site, unappealing or frustrating aspects of your website, key reason for visiting your site, and whether that reason was fulfilled by visiting your site.
You can customize the survey questions by paying Google a nominal charge. You will definitely receive a lot of important feedback from your visitors, which in turn will help you to improve user satisfaction.
If your website compels visitors to sign-up or register before proceeding any further or provides only partial information before doing the same then you may have already witnessed a high bounce rate. You will also anger Panda with this strategy, will only achieve lowered rankings, and will fail to boost user experience by continuing on this failed path.
Page speed is another factor that will not only affect user satisfaction, but will also affect your rankings. A frustrated user will not wait for a second more than necessary for your page to load while search engines such as Google will also take into account page speeds before giving appropriate ranking.
In addition, you must run that extra mile and a lot more to offer relevant information to your visitors, present interesting layouts, provide a host of relevant links as well as resources, and provide an unexpected surprise to make sure that they remain happy and make repeated visits to your site. While you may not be able to technically measure this exercise, Google can measure and reward your efforts in case they are successful.
Of course, offering a host of helpful links to visitors will help them get the required information in detail while helping you with improved rankings as well. Rather than a visitor going back to the Google search results page to click on another site, it will be better if they click on a link to visit that site through your webpage. Your authority will increase in the eyes of Google bots, which will improve rankings.
Hence, while you strive hard to optimize your web pages, also need to work towards optimizing user search experience as well.