January 8, 2016

The Art of Keeping the Pogostick Customer

There is a common misconception that optimizing your website for Google is just about making a few coding changes, getting endorsed by popular sites and then waiting for Google to take notice. While these things are important, an equally as important ranking factor is user behavior.

How Google Uses User Behavior Data

Google Engineer John Mueller has been quoted as saying that there is no direct impact on rankings from user behavior

Here are the three user behavior metrics business owners have to watch out for:

  1. Click-through rate (CTR)

There is no optimal or expected CTR for any particular search, but Google does expect it to fall into a range, depending on the type of query. For example, for branded keywords, the click-through rate of the top result is around 50 percent. For non-branded queries, the top result usually garners around 33 percent of clicks; 15 percent for a second-place result; and 10 percent for number three. If your listing falls outside of the expected range – even if it’s above that range – Google may re-rank the result in real time.

How to improve CTR:

Use Google Analytics webmaster tools to identify pages with CTRs that fall below Google’s expectations and focus on them first.

Make sure page titles and meta descriptions meet technical requirements. Eliminate duplicate titles and descriptions, and then optimize them for keywords.

Keep URLs clear and easy-to-read. For longer URLs, consider using breadcrumbs, which are Google’s alternative way of displaying a page’s location in the site hierarchy.

Include a strong call to action in the meta description. Speak directly to searchers about the value of clicking through to your page.

  1. Pogo-stick visitors

If the searcher hops quickly back from a result to the SERP, that’s an indication that the result page initially selected wasn’t high quality. When a user pogo-sticks back to results like this, Google may down-rank the first page. If that searcher then dwells longer on the second page he clicked through to, Google may up-rank that page.

Thoughts From Creative Design Specialist
Stacey Morrison

“Over 90% of viewers will judge your business via the aesthetics of your website. The best way to leave a good first impression for prospects is to build an aesthetically pleasing site without all the clutter. As a designer, I define clutter as Information Overload. The last thing you want on your website is too many visual cues fighting for the attention of your prospective customer”.

How to reduce pogo-sticking:

Improve page loading time. Searchers can get frustrated if a page doesn’t load and bounce back.

Remove or limit distracting ads or pop-ups.

Add site search, so that if the initial result does not satisfy the searcher’s query, she can keep searching within your site instead of hopping back. Google’s custom search engines are a good option, because they allow you to use Google Analytics to track searches and identify search trends that you can satisfy by creating new pages.

  1. Dwell timeDwell time is the amount of time between when a searcher clicks through from a link on the search results page to when he goes back to the SERP. A longer dwell time is a clear indication – to Google and to you – that the result was valuable. The ideal search experience is when the searcher immediately lands on a page that has exactly the information she was looking for.

How to increase dwell time:

Use a tool such as WebSite Auditor to check for broken links on your site. Remove or repair them.W

Up the quality of your content. Make sure every page is unique and delivers the information promised in the meta description.

Create task-oriented content pages. Analyze queries as the first in a series of steps leading to completion of a task. Provide several pages that can lead someone through those steps.

Entice searchers to stay on your site with links to additional information on the landing page. For example, on e-commerce sites, a Related Products section encourages them to keep exploring if the initial result wasn’t spot-on or the item searched for is out of stock.