When some experts declared user behavior as part of the most important trends that everyone in the industry should watch rise in prominence next year, a lot of eyebrows raised. The mere mention that it is actually part of Google’s search ranking algorithm can spark a heated debate. But, what is really the truth? Is it just pure speculation? Are their evidences that can prove that user behavior is indeed used by Google to rank pages in the SERPs?
Before we’ll discuss how you can improve user behavior to help you increase the conversion of your legal or medical site, let us first find out if there are indeed solid evidences that can prove that it is indeed part of the factors used by the search giant in ranking websites.
Is User Behavior a Proven Factor in Search Ranking?
In a detailed article published by Link Assistant, they presented three evidences that serve as solid proofs that user behavior is indeed a search ranking factor.
1. They claimed that Google announced it themselves.
Link Assistant carefully laid out how Google’s former Search Quality Chef, Udi Manber, mentioned the use of user behavior during a Federal Trade Commission court case. We lifted the following from Link Assistant’s blog post.
“The ranking itself is affected by the click data. If we discover that, for a particular query, hypothetically, 80 percent of people click on Result No. 2 and only 10 percent click on Result No. 1, after a while we figure probably Result 2 is the one people want. So we’ll switch it.”
The bold and italicized sentence says it all. It is actually a straightforward statement. Click data, which is part of a user’s behavior affects how Google ranks webpages. Read more statements from Google that further affirmed that user behavior is indeed part of their search ranking algorithm.
2. They also presented that Google’s Patents imply that they are indeed utilizing user behavior patterns.
In their patent, Google clearly mentioned this statement.
“[…] User reactions to particular search results or search result lists may be gauged, so that results on which users often click will receive a higher ranking.”
This is only one of the many mentions that can be found in one of their patents. According to Link Assistant, there are still a lot of other ones that cite user behavior as a ranking factor. They further explain that in those patents, the search giant straightforwardly cites that along with good old SEO factors, several user data can be used as a rank modifier, the one that determines a page’s rank in the SERPs.
3. They presented the real life experiment conducted by Rand Fishkin.
Rand Fishkin is one of the most famous content marketers in the industry. His extensive knowledge in search engine optimization is highly respected even by his fellow thought leaders and experts. To prove that user behavior is indeed one of the factors in ranking pages, Fishkin conducted an unusual experiment. Here is what he did according to Link Assistant.
A couple of months ago, Rand Fishkin of Moz ran an unusual experiment. Rand reached out to his Twitter followers and asked them to run a Google search for best grilled steak, click on result No.1 and quickly bounce back, and then click on result No. 4 and stay on that page for a while.
From that actual experiment, they’ve proven again that user behavior can indeed influence search ranking. Check the detailed results here.
How to Improve Your Legal Site’s Conversion by Looking at User Behavior Patterns
It cannot be denied anymore that user behavior plays a major part on how Google positions pages in the SERPs. If you have a legal website and you are trying your best to put your webpage on the top of the SERPs but still failed, then you might have overlooked something really crucial. And, that is how potential prospects have responded to your content. Ask these questions first before you’ll do another SEO campaign to boost your ranking.
- How much is your page’s click through rate?
- What is the average time your visitors spent checking your page?
- What is the average bounce rate of your page?
- Have you double check your page title, Meta description, and how your snippet looks like in the SERPs?
- How about the content of your page? Is it informative, interesting, and compelling enough?
- Once you determine which aspect needs improvement, you can create a strategy to help increase your conversion. Here are the steps you can take.
1. Improve conversion rate by increasing click through rate.
You cannot increase successful conversions if there are only very few who click your link and actually visit your site. If you are a law firm, you should take into consideration how your page appears in the SERPs. If it is ranking well but only a few clicked and visited your website, then there must be something wrong with your title and Meta description. Consider the following screenshot.
The one inside the red rectangle has more chances of getting higher clicks because it has more compelling Meta description. As you can see, that one ranks higher than the one in the lower side. This is because click through rate (an aspect of user behavior) can influence how Google positions a page in the SERPs.
2. Improve your click through rate by creating a compelling title and Meta description.
Of course, this is still in direct relation to number 1. The most effective solution to increase CTR is to improve the wordings in your title and Meta description. Searchers would usually click those ones which straightforwardly answer their search queries.
In the screenshot above, the reason why that result in red rectangle is positioned at the bottom of the page is because its title and description are not compelling enough for those who search for information using the keywords “San Francisco Labor Attorneys”. Most of them preferred to click the one on the top. Here, we can see how powerful a title and a Meta description are in enticing clicks and visits.
3. Lengthen the stay of your visitors by improving the quality of your content.
Another important aspect that user behavior patterns can contribute to your search optimization campaign is by telling you the level of engagement of your visitors: if they left your page after a few seconds, or if stayed for a while, or were successfully converted.
If your bounce rate is low, this means that your content is engaging, but if it’s the opposite, then you better find ways to make it more compelling. Your copy should convince your prospects that you are the law firm or lawyer that they are looking for. Include statistics or figures to prove your credibility. It is also worthy to mention how many cases you’ve won for a specific type of lawsuit.
4. Attract traffic from social media by giving your visitors tools to easily share your content.
Another user behavior pattern that is quite useful in telling you how engaged your website visitors are is on how aggressive they are in sharing your content to their social media networks. Install social media widgets in your page and encourage your visitors to share it if they find it useful. Aside from the fact that this can help you gain traffic, this can improve your citations in social media websites, which a lot of experts have predicted will have a great influence in search rankings in the coming year.
All these tips can also be applied on your medical website. You only need to customize your strategy to fit your niche. Always remember that one of the most crucial parts in search engine optimization is on how you can elicit the right behaviors from your prospects. Don’t just aim for the top spot, aim for the most click throughs, the longer time spent, and of course, more successful conversions.
Related Google Analytics Tips: Analyzing Visitor Personas
Also read my SEO Forecast 2015. I am now working on 2016 Forecast so don’t forget to bookmark my blog.
Qamar Zaman SEO Expert for Lawyers