UX signals are how your users tell you whether or not they’re finding the content on your website valuable. UX stands for user experience, which has been Google’s primary focus since its inception back in 1998. Google’s early updates, including Panda and Penguin, were designed to improve user experience and discourage the black hat SEO tactics that were making the Internet a great place for shady marketers but a discouraging place for users.
Google Is for Users
Google didn’t stop updating its algorithms with Panda and Penguin. Every update since has been intended to improve the online experience for users. SEO has thus had to change its focus over the years.
In the early days of Google, SEO was, for many, a way to manipulate the search engines and game the system to be the top results. Users and websites who were focused on providing high-quality content for their users were left behind. Google has since made a lot of updates to change this and to punish such black hat SEO techniques while rewarding sites that provided a good user experience.
User experience is the most important factor in SEO. The better your UX, the more users will visit it, the more Google will reward your site by moving it up in the search rankings, and the longer users will stay on your site. But how do you know that your website is really providing a good user experience?
What Are UX Signals?
This is where UX signals come in. They’re the Internet’s way of letting you know whether your users are happy with your content or not. UX signals are behavioral patterns, which are used by Google to affect your page rankings. The most important two are click through rate (CTR) and bounce rate, which Google takes the most seriously. These two UX signals definitely affect your page rankings.
Click Through Rate
Click through rate, or CTR, is the number of users who click on your snippet on the SERP, or search result page. If your CTR is high, that’s a good sign and Google will bump your page higher in the search results. If your CTR is low, it will rank lower. Google wants to display at the top to pages that users click on the most, trusting users to click on the best pages.
It’s important for your SEO that you monitor each page to see what its CTR is. Those with a high click through rate are definitely doing something right. For pages with a low CTR, check out the meta-description of the page and model it after the pages that have a higher CTR. Having a more engaging and appealing snippet will help draw more users to that page.
Bounce rate is the rate at which users click on the SERP link to your page and then bounce, or click back to the search results page again. A high bounce rate indicates to Google that while your page’s snippet may be enticing, the site itself isn’t engaging or valuable enough to users to keep them on your site.
It can be tricky to determine whether or not your bounce rate is high because there are different measurements of it. Whether or not users visit other pages on your site counts, as does how long users spend reading your page. Your bounce rate can also vary depending on the type of website. An online store may have a lower natural bounce rate than a blog, where many users read just one article.
Pay Attention to Analytics
Google Analytics will be your best friend when it comes to measuring your UX signals. Not only can you monitor your CTR and bounce rate, but you can also see how long users stay on each page. Look at how many return visitors you have. If it looks like users aren’t visiting very much, don’t stay for long, and don’t look at anything else you have to offer, pay attention to that. Your content may need an update to be more appealing to your target audience.