Proof Google uses user behavior and visitor tracking
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I have believed for a long time now that Google has had in the works a user behavior factoring system. This is to say that that the behavior of users during searches made at Google will effect the Google results. This means that some of your sites, those ones that don’t deserve the positions they claim, the ones that don’t have an ounce of usefulness to the world, those pages may soon go. I have always said white hat was best, maybe now it will be even better.
Okay, okay back to the topic at hand…
Taken direct from the official Google blog:
“Similarly, with logs, we can improve our search results: if we know that people are clicking on the #1 result weâ€™re doing something right, and if theyâ€™re hitting next page or reformulating their query, weâ€™re doing something wrong. The ability of a search company to continue to improve its services is essential, and represents a normal and expected use of such data.“
Ahh so Google is identifying search patterns, they are looking at specific searches and identifying whether or not the mass crowd is getting what they want. Do they go five pages deep before finding the result they want or do they do another search? If they do eventually find it, is that page a good resource? Do most people who click on it seem to find what they want, in other words do they stay at the site for a good length of time? Maybe a good result buried on the 2nd or 3rd page may rise slowly to the 1st page if the 1st page results are less than desirable. Perhaps some of those sites who are offering nothing to the online community, who don’t even have real content, just computer generated mess, perhaps those sites will find themselves falling to lower and lower positions and more qualified sites taking their place.
Aren’t you excited? I know I am. This can only mean that Google will get better, more relevant search results which means good sites will gain more presence and bad sites will lose theirs.
But could this hurt good sites? Maybe Google isn’t smart enough to work this yet… Of course with anything there is always the chance the wrong party could be effected. This scenario is no different however I feel that the chances of this happening are very slim. Google is very good at rolling out new methods and I see this as no different. The user behavior factor will only be part of a big equation which will determine the quality and relevance of the site to the search made. You will not suddenly see your site drop because one person clicked in and clicked right back out. This factor will be based on overall performance and behavior not likely just one person or one click. That kind of factoring wouldn’t work.
A site may be a very good resource and may deserve many positions but perhaps just one or two of those positions it occupies are not deserved, perhaps they are irrelevant. In this case Google would use behavior factoring to determine that this site should not rank for this specific phrase based on the user response.
One thing you should know however is this. The factoring system Google is using is not a penalty. It is more of a filter of sorts. It is a way for Google to more accurately target the top ten results. However if a large percentage of the results you have obtained in Google have a high bounce rate your site could be subject to suspicion. I am not sure how Google would determine that but I am assuming that a site that has a high number of bounces for a large percentage of their site may see positions start to drop.
So what do you do about this? How do I make my site more targeted and relevant to what the users want? Well my suggestion is to go natural. First off begin writing lots of quality, relevant articles on your niche. Provide a button where users can submit questions which will be answered in an article. Figure out what the folks in your industry want and provide it. Instead of trying to rank in Google by submitting your site to directories and exchanging links how about ranking naturally?
Yeah I said naturally. This is where your content/site is a linkbait and attracts link by itself. I find that sites that are run this way tend to keep their positions better and gain more faster. I think this is partly do to the fact that all the links will be gained because someone thought the site was worth linking to. So the traffic gained by these rankings are more likely to stick around the site longer. That just seems to be the case with the sites I have tried this on.
A good way of determining your weak points in your site is by using a tool like Google Analytics. Google Analytics shows you your top content pages and your bounce rates, average length of visit and all that good stuff. You can use this data to identify which page brought the user, what the referring source was, what keywords were used to get there, how long the user stayed, what pages they traveled to and the amount of time they spent at each page and more.
Your probably thinking “If you think I am wasting time looking at that worthless data your dead wrong“ – Okay don’t but when you lose your rankings don’t go asking me why because I told you so.
This data seems meaningless, monotonous and useless. But if you really look at it you can determine alot. You can identify your weak points in your site. What pages do the best? What pages don’t? Why is that? Was it a useless/irrelevant keyword that brought the user? Perhaps your articles lack information, maybe they don’t actually answer the question that the user had. By looking at your top pages and your highest bounce pages you may be able to determine what you need to focus on. I know I have found this data very helpful to me. Sure it takes time, but so does fixing rankings that you lose, I prefer to fortify my rankings over attempting to re-rank.
I believe as time goes on that user behavior will play a bigger and bigger role in search engines. So we best get used to it now, figure out how to run our sites accordingly and then we will have nothing to worry about and we will be ahead of our competition. Seo is all about adapting to changing times, if we can’t do that I think we are poor examples of seo and webmasters.
If you have questions/comments or just want to discuss this please comment on this post or send me a email. I love to discuss topics such as this. And a thank you to the folks who sent their requests in for a article on this. Hope this is satisfactory.
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