Ranking Factor # 1: User Satisfaction

Original author: Cyrus Shepard
  • Transfer
Yesterday, we published a translation of Yandex's report on how behavioral factors are taken into account by the search system in assessing the formation of SERPs. An article by Cyrus Shephard from the MOZ blog on behavioral factors continues this topic, revealing it to Google. The author is an employee of MOZ.

You yourself know these numbers: Google takes into account more than 200 ranking signals, updates its algorithms 500 times a year and thousands of engineers work for it. In this pursuit, in desperate attempts to keep up with the changes in the algorithms, we so often forget that all this is necessary for one single purpose:

Satisfy the user.

Just don’t think now that this will be a post on the topic of emotional experiences about it. “Make great content and the visitors themselves will come” or “Surprise your customers and a miracle will happen.”

No miracles. User satisfaction is a relevant ranking factor.

Unlike other ranking factors, satisfaction is difficult to measure because it requires the internal data of the search engine itself - and they don’t like to share it. We certainly know that search engines measure and promote satisfaction in a variety of ways. In fact, I’m almost sure that satisfaction is one of the most important metrics for Google that allows you to evaluate the success of your own pages. (In this regard, it is appropriate to mention yesterday's publication of the translation of the Yandex report on this topic - approx. Transl.)

Clinging to a keyword is easy enough. It’s much harder to get users to stop looking back from your site if they don’t find what they’re looking for. It’s extremely difficult to “wind up” the satisfaction (actually not - approx. SERPClick). Perhaps, precisely because of the complexity of such a wrapping, search engines pay so much attention to this factor.

How Google measures and predicts satisfaction

User Satisfaction with Search Results

Stephen Levy’s remarkable book, In the Plex , describes how Google engineers came up with a way to improve search results by collecting and processing user behavior data (emphasis added by me).

“... Google can track how satisfied users are . ... The best signal of their satisfaction is a“ long click ”- this happens when someone selects the result, ideally if it is the first one from above and after that does not return to the search. This means that Google has successfully processed the request. However, unsatisfied users were each unsatisfied for some reason. The most eloquent talked about this "short clicks" when the user clicked on the link and immediately returned back. “If a person scored something and then changed his request, then he didn’t find what he was looking for,” Patel says. - "If they went to the next page of the issue, it means that they are not satisfied with what they saw."

This name is often called pogosticking.: designation for the behavior of users when they click on the result in the SERP, and then return (pogostick) back and again click on the results of the SERP, trying to find what they need .


Search request weight

In 2012, Google published a short version of its Search Quality Rating Guidelines . A small army of specially trained users are guided by this document when evaluating search results.

One of the highest ratings that can be assigned according to this document is “useful” (emphasis by the author):

“Useful pages should be of high quality and well suited to the request. Also, they often have one or all of the following characteristics: satisfying user requests, authoritative, interesting, and also / or recently posted (such as the latest news on a topic). Useful pages are generally well organized and arouse user confidence. They contain information from trusted sources. Useful information pages are not spammed. ”

Unfortunately, the evaluator can view only a few thousand web pages for a certain time, while there are millions of sites on the network. Therefore, Google has developed a new system:


Instead of evaluating the results in fact, Panda gives Google the ability to predict user satisfaction based on a study involving the users themselves. Thus, it is possible to rank all indexed sites.

Less satisfying pages get a lower search ranking, and every few weeks the index is updated based on newly collected data.

The graph below shows how the Panda consistently lowers the site in the ranking.


Panda site visits are available through the Panguin Tool and Google Algorithm Change History.

What we can do?

If search engines measure user satisfaction and use it as a ranking factor, then our goal should be:

  • Create conditions under which users will not return back to the search and click on a different URL.
  • Create sites that the Panda considers to be consistent with the quality characteristics.
  • Surprise and delight our users so that they come back to us again and again.

5 Ways to Improve Behavioral Factors:

1. Free Google Satisfaction Surveys

As if to specifically draw attention to the topic of behavioral factors, Google recently released free, embedded polls to measure user satisfaction for webmasters .

After you add a JavaScript line when to your site, your users receive the following questions:

  • How satisfied are you with this site as a whole?
  • Is there something that disappointed you on this site or is unattractive?
  • Why did you visit this site today?
  • Did you manage to achieve this goal today?


If you want to customize questions, Google offers to do this at a price of $ 0.01 per question.
Apparently, Google wants to give webmasters the possibility of feedback like that which he collects from data on user behavior. Of course, the survey will not directly answer the question “What to do?”, However, they allow any webmaster to collect a lot of useful data on user satisfaction.

2. Remove obstacles.

For years, we have only been doing what we say that our site must be made accessible both to the search robot and to people. But rarely does anyone talk about how these usability factors affect ranking.

Imagine, if you want, a site that requests registration to view any content, even in order to get search results from this site in the search results. But we are increasingly seeing this on the net.

What if Moz needed to register?

It's simple: people click on the results, see the registration form and go back to the search for another URL. After a couple of hundred such returns (or even less), the search engine will take into account that the given URL in the search does not satisfy users.

We at Moz saw sites that made registration access only for part of their most requested pages. And their rating fell. In fact, it is full of literally anecdotal situations when the Panda dropped sites after the introduction of such measures.

3. Accelerate.

We know that a faster site is good, but the page has two mechanisms that can influence the ranking:

Direct: Google has officially announced that the page loading speed directly affects the ranking for a certain percentage of requests (only 1 % in 2010).

Indirectly:Since page speed affects usability, it can indirectly affect user satisfaction. If the user waits too long for the page to load, he may be disappointed and go back to the search.
Google is literally obsessed with page loading speed and Microsoft researchers have shown that users will visit the site less often if it only loads up to 250 milliseconds slower than the competitor’s site .

Source: New York Times .

If you need to convince a client or manager to increase download speed, try the Webpagetest.com speed comparison tool , which allows you to export video in slow motion.

4. Empathy

Empathy - a ranking factor? “Cyrus, - I can already hear you say this to me - you talked to Rand along the way!”

You can add this comment at our next seminar. I slightly modified the comments below to highlight important points:


Recently, I have paid much attention to making the web page look the way I would like to see it if I were looking for it. I redid and finished it so that in the product line (and this is an e-commerce store) there was everything that the user might want to see and added a discount code to the page.

After that, user time on the page and pageviews after visiting this page increased significantly while the bounce rate was reduced (twice!). For 7 weeks, the page went to the top. In order to be sure, I did not hang links from other sites to the page. The link mass leading to the And page to the domain remained unchanged for this period according to the testimony of AHRefs, OSE, Majestic, GWM & LRT.

5. Relink

One of the best promotion articles I've read in the last year is AJ Kohn's Time to Long Click . AJ explains how linking (as well as content) can be used to increase user satisfaction (highlighted by the bold article author):

I always recommend that you link important sources of information among themselves when possible in order to fully satisfy the user request . Thus, you create a situation for longer clicks and eventually get more links to yourself. Both of these effects have a positive effect on your ranking.

Stop thinking about how to optimize your page and think about how to optimize your search behavior.

- AJ Kohn

Think: it’s much more convenient for users to click from your site to a different URL than to go back to the search and search again. If people find something from you, then you are an authoritative source. If they can only find it in Google, then Google is the authority.

Be an authoritative source.

How do you personally improve user satisfaction metrics?

There are two types of tactics: try to satisfy the robot or try to satisfy the site visitors.

Centering the strategy on robots leads to the creation of pages filled with the right keywords and meta tags - this is an attempt to help the search robot recognize relevancy. I said “try” because the search engine itself is monitoring users. If they are unhappy, the robot too.

A user-targeted promotion strategy with the same keywords and meta tags offers users more: come and try the site. And then - you need to do everything to make the user happy.
Have you seen an improvement in the ranking of your site after a series of works to improve user factors? Tell your story in the comments.

From the translator:

This article was prepared by the analytical department of ALTWeb Group . It reveals the mechanisms, work on which includes strategic planning and step-by-step implementation. This complex set of measures can be enhanced by working with behavioral factors through the SERPClick system , whose work is based on the factors described in this article.

Also popular now: