Is User Experience Now a Ranking Signal?

User Experience & Rankings


For the last several years, those who wanted to improve their Google search results rankings carefully placed keywords within text via SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. Although this is still an important ranking signal, Google has announced a few changes that will place focus on the overall user experience.


Antiquated SEO Practices


If you search for a product or service on Google today, you might find that the top few results do not even mention the specific keyword you typed in to find it. Why is that? How does it work? It is actually quite simple. In the past, Google simply matched keywords to keywords. Thus, if you typed in “banana pancakes”, Google would crawl through the web looking for pages that mentioned banana pancakes. Unfortunately, it was possible that you would come across an article that had absolutely nothing to do with banana pancakes, but since the keyword was present at the right density, that was the page you were shown. This is why Google is moving toward user experience as a ranking signal.


Read through a patent filed by Google in 2010.


According to yet another aspect, a method may include generating a model based on feature data relating to different features of a link from a linking document to a linked document and user behavior data relating to navigational actions associated with the link and assigning a rank to a document based on the model.


Understanding Query Reformulation


The term “query reformulation” seems pretty complicated, but it is quite simple when you think about it. Someone may enter the word “Panda” into Google without providing any other context whatsoever. Query reformulation essentially tries to determine, based on that user’s location, overall search statistics, and even the user’s past search history, whether “panda” refers to the fluffy black-and-white bear, the chain of Panda Express restaurants, or even Panda Antivirus software. In this case, simply pulling up and showing pages that contain the word “Panda” does not do much for the user experience.


Google’s Ultimate Goal


With all of this in mind, remember that when you create content for your website or article directories to drive traffic to your site, you have to please Google as well as the reader. Google’s mission is to provide searchers with the information they want in a single search. Repeatedly typing in queries to find information is frustrating, and if it happens too often, users may turn to a competitor’s search engine. When you can optimize your content to suit Google’s definition of an outstanding user experience, you will generate more traffic.


What it Takes


What does this mean for your website, blog, and directory articles? It means that instead of simply filling them with keywords, you need to make sure that the context is there. For example, if you sell used Jaguar automobiles, then you need to include words that indicate you sell cars instead of sports team memorabilia or big cats. Using phrases like “used Jaguar” will certainly help since it is difficult to take it out of context, as will “Jaguar automobile”, “1984 Jaguar”, and other terms that could only relate to the automobile. This is doubly important when it comes to your title tag and page heading, since these are where users look first to get an overview of the content.


As you can see, ranking signals are changing. In order to provide a better user experience, Google is moving away from keyword stuffing and focusing more on the actual relevancy of the content. To do it, they rely on your keywords, phrases, and content to provide very clear context.


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