How does Google measure User Experience?

There’s been a great deal of controversy in the digital marketing community revolving around an article from Tim Soulo about on-page SEO. There’s an overwhelming push towards ignoring on-page SEO and focusing on building links, editorial outreach, and other off-page efforts. So how does Google measure User Experience?

Many digital marketers are missing this major element that Google is measuring, classified as User Experience. After all, it’s Google’s mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. One might think they would take how users interact with websites into consideration. Adding to that, the #1 item on Google’s philosophy is that you must focus on the user and all else will follow.

But, how exactly is Google measuring User Experience?

It’s not feasible to determine every user experience element that is being monitored, but there’s a few that we know Google relies on. It’s important to remember that when looking into SEO, everything is relevant to your competition/industry.

Clickthrough Rate (CTR)

In this context, we are measuring the CTR of your result in Google’s SERPs. This can be found by dividing the number of clicks to your site by the number of impressions. While the biggest determining factor of your CTR is your rank on the page (#1-10), the next greatest factors are your title and meta description.

According to data given by Tim’s blog post, using keywords in your title and meta description have little to no impact, so you should focus on making them user-friendly. Craft them so that users know exactly what to expect, in order to raise your CTR and keep your bounce rate (we’ll touch on this in a moment) down.

Bounce Rate

Google defines bounce rate as the percentage of single-page sessions (i.e. sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page). This can be a clear indicator to Google that your page is not providing visitors with what they need. It is Google’s goal to end the user’s search after the first link they click, so it behoves them to penalize sites that are causing users to go back to search for more resources.

Googler, Avinash Kaus did a presentation almost 10 years ago on bounce rate that still holds up to this day if you’re interested in learning more.

Reviews (for Local Businesses)

If your business has a physical location, it is imperative that you create a system to garner reviews. From a Local SEO perspective, the amount of reviews you have in comparison to your competition is a major ranking factor. Not only will it make you show up higher in the SERPs, but it will appear in the knowledge graph and has the potential to be a major trust factor to visitors.

For more information on why reviews matter, read our post about it.

What does the future have in store?

We’ve already gotten a glimpse of what the future of machine learning means for SEO. The decisions Google will be making for you rely heavily upon historical (user) data. It’s clear that it is becoming increasingly important to delve deep into how visitors are using your site, and how you can improve their experience.