User Signals: How Important is the User Experience Really for SEO?

User Signals

The debate, whether now user signals and thus the user experience, engl. User Experience (UX), a ranking factor on Google, has been around for many years. The communication from Google is rather ambiguous in this regard. Once user signals are confirmed by the search giants as a signal, then denied again. In this post, we explain why this is so, what patents Google has registered around the measurement of UX and what you should look out for in terms of user experience and SEO.

Why is The Ranking Factor User Signals Controversial?

It is absolutely certain that Google wants to offer the user the best possible search experience. The reason for this is that satisfied users trust in Google’s search again and again, so Google can sell Google Ads to advertisers.

Classical ranking factors are ultimately just a crutch to try to estimate which result provides the best user experience. Put simply, backlinks primarily imply authority. Search engine optimized content, in turn, gives the impression of relevance. Ideally, there would also be a direct factor in the Google algorithm, baptized by SEO’s user signals, which directly rates the user experience.

Some Possible Metrics:

  • Length of stay
  • Pogo sticking
  • Recurring visitors
  • So, assuming that user signals are important to Google’s success is perfectly logical. What reason could Google have to give any clear information in this regard?

Clearly, after many years of manipulation (be it through keyword stuffing, link buying, or link spam), Google is very cautious about getting specific information about the algorithm, except when it comes to technical issues. As far as technical optimization is concerned, there are clear guidelines in Google’s interest because this influences the basic activities of the search engine (crawling, indexing, etc.).

How could Google Measure The User Experience?

It should be clear to everyone that Google has the opportunity to collect the necessary data to measure the user experience, but here is a brief overview for Google Europe (Source:, March 2019):

  • Search engine market share in Europe on desktop: 89.47%
  • Search engine market share in Europe on mobile: 97.48%
  • Market share of the leading mobile operating systems in Internet usage: 71.05%
  • Market shares of the leading browser families: 44.6%

Then there is also Google Analytics, but as you can see at first glance easily, Google sees almost everything. But let us be more specific …

There are quite a few Google representatives who speak openly about the influence of user signals. In court with the FTC, Google’s former Search Quality Chief Udi Manber said the following:

80 percent of people click on Result No. 2 and only 10 percent click on Result No. 1, after a while we figure probably So we’ll switch it. ”

As early as 2011, Google’s former head of search and senior vice president Amit Singhal said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that one factor in the algorithm is how users interact with the page.

Also, some interesting patents have been submitted by Google on this subject. Here are two particularly exciting:

  • Ranking documents based on user behavior and / or feature data
  • Modifying search result ranking based on implicit user feedback and a model of presentation bias

There are also many smaller and larger tests by search engine optimizers. Of course, it can only be a correlation. Overall, however, everything indicates that the user experience will be an important and, in the future, an even more important part of SEO.

Which User Signals Should I Pay Attention?

You now know that user behavior on your site is likely to impact Google’s organic search rankings. But what are the key metrics and how can I improve them?

Pogo Sticking and Length of Stay

Google wants the first result for a search query to satisfy the user immediately. The ideal user experience means: The user ends up on a page that offers all the desired or desired information so that he does not have to return to the SERPs. Pogosticking is nothing more than jumping back into the SERPs and clicking on another result.

How can Pogo Sticking be Prevented and The Length of Stay Increased?

  1. Optimize your website so it’s quickly available.
  2. Improve the usability of your website. A very good book is “Do not make me think” by Steve Krug.
  3. Provide exactly the information and functions that the user wishes for this search.
  4. Cover the topic as completely as possible.
  5. Show the date of the last update instead of the publication date.
  6. Provide long articles of information with a table of contents so that the user can get the content as quickly as possible.
  7. Use descriptive headlines to help with text scanning.
  8. Think about the next questions a searcher might have and have content for them. Suitable complementary content should be internally linked and easily accessible. It’s about becoming the first point of contact for information in your field.

Organic CTR

The organic click rate, engl. Click-Through Rate (CTR) is the percentage of users who click on your search result in the SERPs. The organic clickthrough rate is influenced by the position, but also by the attractiveness of your snippet (title tag, meta description, URL, rich snippets).

There is no universally “good” CTR. A higher CTR provides immediate traffic. An above-average CTR for the position seems to lead to better rankings.

How can The Organic Clickthrough Rate be Improved?

✔ View performance in search results in the Google Search Console in the Performance report. In this study of Advanced Web Ranking, you will learn what a good and bad CTR is.

✔ Make sure your Google snippet is keyword-optimized and attractively designed. Learn how to ideally prepare Title Tag and Meta Description in this video.

✔ Implement structured data to obtain so-called rich snippets for your page, such as a star rating.

✔ Use square and parentheses in your title tag as this has been proven to increase CTR.

Search Intent

Of course, the search intent is not a metric, but must be mentioned in this context as it plays an incredibly important role in search engine optimization today.

When a user enters a search query, he tries to achieve something specific. We call this goal the intention of the user (search intention). Most user signals, such as the length of stay, are for the sole purpose of determining if the user is satisfied with the search result. A keyword can have multiple search intentions, just as a search intent may have different keywords.

How can I Better Match The Search Intention And Satisfy The User?

✔ The search results for the keyword show the main search intent that Google found based on data (eg snippets, top 3 results, SERP features)

✔ Search terms should already be sorted during keyword research according to the following criteria:

  • Informational (eg what is SEO)
  • Commercial (eg solid wood bed)
  • Navigational (eg Evergreen Media YouTube)
  • Transactional (eg buying solid wood bed Anton)
  • For more information, see the Evergreen Media keyword research guide

✔ The search intent can also be made by revising existing content.

User Signals – Not a Mere Gimmick

Whether user signals are already a significant factor in Google’s placement or not, improving your user experience is always an excellent investment.

An important basis for optimizing the user experience is information about your users, which is why so-called buyer personas must be worked out. Data from web analytics tools and sales interviews are recommended.

If you are concerned about what content your target audience wants to see, what your goals are and what they are about, then your SEO campaign will also benefit significantly.


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