How Google Gathers Info About Your Website Users to Determine Your Ranking
August 8, 2018
It should not come as much of shock to know that Google and many other online organisations can track your activity online in multiple ways. Whatever your views on the rights and wrongs of that, some of the information they gather can indirectly help you to improve your website’s SEO.
The specific information that is relevant to this is that relating to the way in which visitors to your website behave and react. This can be accessed via tools such as Google Analytics and used to assess what improvements you can make to your website to improve your users’ experiences.
All of this is important because Google is increasingly taking account of the experience of users as measured by its algorithms when determining the ranking of websites. If two sites appear equal in all SEO factors, then it will be the one whose users are deemed to have a better experience that will outrank the other.
Here are the main ways that Google gathers information about how good or bad an experience your users appear to have when they visit your website.
It is a straightforward assumption to make that if a visitor to our website spends a long time on it, then they have found something they like or that interests them. If they have arrived at your website following a search, then Google will recognise that the keyword they searched for must be highly relevant to your website and that the content there is good.
On the flip side if Google sees that users are barely spending a few seconds before clicking away they’ll assume that either you are not relevant for the keyword, or that the content on the website is sub-standard. Either way, they are going to move that website further down the rankings.
If someone lands on a page on your website, spends some time on it, but then clicks away, you might gain some credit google eyes for ‘session duration’, but not for page views. Google likes to see users move through a website’s pages as they assume that they are doing so because there is content in them which users like.
It stands to reason that the more pages visitors click through to and visit the better the website is, and therefore the higher Google rank it.
Click Through Rate
This refers to how many times that users have clicked on your website links in the search engine results, compared to other websites that appear in them. Obviously, at the point at which they click through, the users have not yet visited your website, so this is an area of SEO where you want to ensure your title tags, and your meta description are fully optimised. It is these which users see when the search engine results appear so the better they are, the more clicks you will receive.
Pogo-sticking occurs when a user types in a search term or question into Google, clicks one of the results and then returns to Google. In other words, they are bouncing back and forth, in the same way, you bounce up and down on a pogo-stick.
What this means for your website’s ranking if Google sees a lot of pogo-sticking is not good news. Google’s algorithm will take the view that whatever content or answer there is on your website, is not addressing the question asked by the user.
Google loves to see interaction on websites, and one of the simplest ways you can get visitors to interact on your website is to encourage them to leave comments. Normally, people will only leave comments if the page or content, is interesting.
The more comments you have the more Google believes that your website is offering users a better experience to the extent that they want to take the time to write a comment about it. A great tip is to reply to every comment if you can, as people are more likely to post a comment if they think a real person is going to read it and respond.