How to Hack User Experience Ranking Signals

Google is relying on user experience signals more and more to determine the quality of pages and sites. But how can you figure out how people are interacting with your site, or how you can optimize your site to maximize these UX signals? This video will show you a few simple strategies that you can implement to get people and Google to love your site.

Video Transcript

Hey, what’s up everybody. In this video I’m going to show you how to track and improve user experience metrics, which Google is paying more and more attention to and integrating into their algorithms.

Your first step is to establish a baseline of where you’re at, with your user experience metrics. The easiest way to do that is to create a Google doc. Within that Google document have four columns: one for the date of when you first checked, your bounce rate, your time on site, and pages per visit. You’ll include the numbers here, and then as you make changes you can track how these change over time, and then hopefully improve using the recommendations from this video.

No one actually knows how much they use each of these metrics, which one they give more weight to, etc. We do know that they use user experience metrics, and these are good ways just to figure out how people interact with your site. It’s actually good for conversion-rate optimization, and things like that, but it’s also important for SEO. That’s what we’re going to focus on today.

How can you figure out what people are doing on your site? Luckily, it’s easy to find with Google Analytics. Log in to your Google Analytics account and click on All Website Data. When you do that, you’ll be taken to your Audience Overview page, which shows you some of this information. You don’t to use this information, because this is for both new and returning visitors.

For example, bounce rate is when someone comes to your site and leaves right away. In general, you want that to be as low as possible. Let’s say you have a returning visitor that goes to your homepage to see if you posted anything recently, sees that you haven’t, and then left. That’s technically a bounce. From Google’s point of view, it doesn’t matter, because that’s not a searcher. We need to see data just for Organic non-paid traffic, and that’s very easy.

Under the overview area here, scroll up and click on Advance Segments, and then click on Non-Paid Search Traffic, and click Apply. What that does is it drills all this information down to just Organic traffic that visited your site from a search.

As you can see, the bounce rate is almost 10 percent less for searches, because that’s a lot of new people who are interested in the content. When you have a lot of return visitors they tend to bounce, because they are just checking for a second to see if you updated with anything new.

You can look at each of these metrics, but this is just something to get a baseline of where you’re at. Don’t be too judgmental. There’s no way to say you should have a bounce rate below a certain percent, or pages for a visit above a certain percent, or average visitor duration above a certain number. It totally depends on where your traffic comes from, what they’re searching for, and your vertical. It’s more important just to get this baseline of where you’re at. What you do is, you copy each of these, so 62.25 percent, copy into bounce rate, and you just repeat that. This is your baseline of data.

If you really want to get more drill-down information, and this is something that I would recommend you do, head over to Content tab here, then click on Overview. This tells you where people come from and how people interact on your site. You can see which page needs more improvement. If 20 percent of the people come to your home page, that’s a page that you should focus on. This is another page, 16 percent, that you should focus on, and so on. You may not want to put a whole lot of effort into improving pages where less than 1 percent or less than half a percent of people come to your site.

You can actually see which ones have problem areas or bottlenecks by clicking on Site Content, then clicking on Landing Pages. It shows you all the landing pages for your site and gives you the average visitor duration, pages for visit, and bounce rate for that particular page. Sometimes you can see a page that stands out that maybe has some room for improvement.

For example, this page about on page SEO has a bounce rate of almost 80 percent, and this is still Organic traffic. That’s not very good. That’s something I would look at and try to improve upon, and put that into my spreadsheet. Maybe I would want one for different pages that are popular on my site, and see if I can make improvements.

Like I said, there is nothing to be like, ‘this is bad, this is good,’ but obviously you want Bounce Rate to be quite low, and you want Pages Per Visit to be quite high, and Average Visitor Duration to be quite high. That’s what we’re going to try to do in this video with the recommendations I’ll make next.

The first thing you want to do is head over to Quick Sprout because Quick Sprout is a great example of creating a very, very user-friendly site that keeps people on the site, and keeps people clicking, and keeps them from bouncing.

The first thing you’ll notice about Quick Sprout, and that you should try to have on your own site, is that it’s a very clean, simple design. It’s not very cluttered. Right above the fold here, is the headline, an image to get you interested, and you can actually read the first sentence of the post above the folds.

Above the fold area is extremely important for design, and this is a way to engage your visitors by having the content front and center. As you can see, as you scroll down, there are not a lot of distractions here, it’s just a sidebar, and here is all empty, and here is all empty.

In general, you want your site design to be very clean, and make the content easy to read, and keep people on the site.

The next thing you want to do is add internal links, and Neil does this quite often at Quick Sprout, and it’s a great way as you saw in a different video, to improve SEO, but it also improves things like time on site, and improves bounce rate.

When someone first visits this page from search, they see this link here, Increasing Your Web Traffic, so they say ‘Ah, maybe I’ll click on that.’ Once they click on it, it’s no longer a bounce. You’ve already had two page views for that user, and the time on site is likely to be much longer. Whenever possible, or for pages that are not doing well in terms of time on site and bounce rate, consider adding internal links high up in the article, and that can improve those metrics.

The next thing you want to do is have compelling copy, especially in the beginning. It’s really important.

For example, in this article, he speaks to what the search is looking for. This person wants to convert their visitors into customers, and he already starts off with something about increasing traffic. Even though the person is not necessarily looking for that, it’s something they’re obviously interested in. He says, ‘What if I could tell you I have seven tactics that you could follow to help convert your visit into customers?” Now this person is very engaged.

This is the kind of content that speaks to the user that you want. I can’t really go into the basics of copyrighting, but as long as you’re speaking to the user, your bounce rate and things like that are going to go down. When I see sites for my clients, and they have really high bounce rates and low engagement metrics, it’s usually because the content is written really poorly. It’s not written at the user, like this. You want to say ‘you’, and speak to what they’re searching for.

Finally, you want to add multimedia to your content whenever possible. For example, Neil, does a lot of this. He adds a lot of screen shots and things to illustrate his points. This keeps people engaged. When you’re scrolling down and you just see blocks and blocks of text you’re kind of like, ick, and people just click away.

If you keep seeing screen shots every few hundred words, it does keep you engaged. This is something that makes you want to be like, “Ah, what is that”, and you stop. Over time, that can increase the time on site, even if they don’t see another page, just because they keep stopping. If they’re scrolling, scanning, they stop. They might be more interested. That keeps them more invested in the content.

These are just some basics with your content to make it more user-friendly. Once you make some of those changes to your site, if those make sense for you, you go back, you add a new date about a week or two later, and see if these metrics improved. If they have, you can apply them to other pages on your site that may be lagging or have a lot of traffic.

That’s it for user experience metrics, thanks for watching, and I’ll see you in the next video.