SEO & User Signals? What Role User Signals Really Play in SEO

SEO & User Signals? What Role User Signals Really Play in SEO

Optimizing websites and web shops for both search engines and users is a major challenge. In this article, you will learn how search engines evaluate user signals and how they can positively influence user signals. […]

Search engines have one big goal: to give searchers the best result. The fact that user signals play a major role in the field of search engine optimization (SEO) is therefore very obvious. The big challenge is to optimize websites and web shops for both search engines and users. In this article, you will learn how search engines evaluate user signals and how they can positively influence user signals.

What are User Signals?

When people search for something in search engines, they want to find the best result in the shortest possible time. On their way to the best result, they unconsciously give signals that can be interpreted by search engines. The most famous signals in the field of SEO are:

  • Click-through rate on the search results page (CTR)
  • Retention time
  • Bounce rate
  • Organic Traffic

User signals are data about the behavior of the searcher – this data can provide information about how suitable a search result is for the respective search query. User signals are therefore a measurable user behaviour in relation to the search engine and websites and online shopswhich are displayed as search results for certain search queries.

The relationship between user signals and SEO

The task of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is to position websites and web shops under relevant search terms on the first search results page within the organic search results. In contrast to the organic search results, the paid ads are activated via Google AdWords (SEA) (see figure).

(c) Nico Hinger

One of the common measures of search engine optimization is onpage and offpage optimization.

  • Which Onpage Optimization includes all optimization areas that can be implemented technically and in terms of content on the website or the webshop. This includes, for example, the optimization of the loading time, the creation of SEO texts or the optimization of SERP snippets.
  • Which Offpage Optimization is dedicated to networking with other qualitative websites in order to increase the quality and relevance of your own website. This networking happens in the form of links called backlinks.

With these two major areas of search engine optimization, websites can be optimized for many official ranking factors (load time, backlinks, etc.). However, user signals such as the click rate or the dwell time are not considered an official ranking factor, but rather a ranking signal. The optimization of user signals therefore goes beyond the area of SEO and requires optimizations in the field of usability and user experience.

Generate more clicks!

The click-through rate describes the ratio of impressions and clicks on the search results page. As soon as a website or a webshop is displayed as a search result on the search results page, an impression is recorded. When the search result is clicked, a click is recorded. The ratio between impressions and clicks is called the click-through rate (CTR). The higher the click-through rate, the better.

In order to optimize the click rate, you have to start at the first online touch point of the customer journey – the search results page. There, users see the first ten search results after entering a search term. And right here your Stand out from the crowd. The search results are displayed as SERP snippets, which contain short information. The SERP snippet consists of Title and meta description:

(c) Nico Hinger

5 Tips to Increase Click-Through Rate

  1. Note maximum number of characters: To ensure that the SERP snippet is not truncated, the maximum character count of 60 characters in the title and 156 characters in the meta description should not be exceeded.
  1. Use search term (keyword): Since SEO is always about positioning a website or webshop under a specific search term on the first search results page, the keyword is also crucial for SERP Snippet optimization. It should necessarily be included in both the Title and meta description.
  2. Mention benefits: If you want to stand out from the crowd, you have to stand out. A great added value are therefore advantages of your company, which are already visible in the SERP snippet.
  3. Use special characters: Text is often skimmed over. Where our eye gets stuck are colors and symbols. The use of special characters such as check marks or arrows can therefore also contribute to the click rate.
  4. Call to Action: Ask the user to take an action. Direct speeches such as “Contact now!” or “FREE initial consultation!” animate to click.

SERP Snippet Generators help you create the perfect SERP snippet for your website.

Increase dwell time, reduce bounce rate

The length of stay refers to the length of time that users spend on a website on the subpages before the page is left again. The time between calling up the page and leaving the page is measured. The dwell time could be seen as information about the page quality. If the expectations of the users are not met and the desired information is not found, the residence time can be very short. However, poor usability and confusing navigation can also be the reason for a short stay.

When users call up a single page of a website, do not perform any further interaction with other subpages and leave the page again, one speaks of a high bounce rate. A specific form of bounce rate is the Return-to-SERP Rate. It describes the rate of users returning to the search results page directly from the results page. A high return-to-SERP rate can be the cause of a non-met search intention of the users.

If users arrive at a search result that does not meet their expectations, this deviates from their original search intention. In this case, there is a high probability that you will return to the search results page with one click. However, a high bounce rate is not always triggered by poor content that does not meet the search intention. Even technical deficits, such as a long loading time or a non-callable landing page, can cause the user to return to the search results page.

5 Tips to Increase the dwell Time

  1. Fast charging time: Users do not want to wait. If the loading time is too long, select a different search result. A fast loading time is therefore very advantageous to keep users on the page.
  1. Convincing Hero area: The Hero area is the upper part of a website, which is visible immediately after the page is accessed. Here, users should recognize at first glance what added value they offer them, what they can get here and how they can get it.
  2. Mobile Optimization: Since March 2021 at the latest, Google has only rated websites according to their mobile version – the “Mobile-Only Index” was launched. Websites must therefore be accessible in an optimized mobile version in order to be considered for a ranking.
  3. Meeting expectations: Seekers want to find a solution quickly. Meeting expectations is therefore the be-all and end-all in order to increase the length of stay of users. Design the landing page so that users quickly recognize your product or service to quickly satisfy their need for a solution.
  4. Video: The use of video has two major advantages. On the one hand, you have the opportunity to present your service or product better and on the other hand, users stay longer on the landing page. A classic win-win situation!

Conclusion: No good SEO without good user signals

User signals are not an official ranking factor when it comes to positioning websites or web shops well in search engines, but indirectly they have a high impact on the success of your website.

Put the expectations of your target group in the foreground. Show potential customers the added value you offer with your service or product. If you offer searchers the right result and thus also a solution to their problem, you have not only optimized the user signals, but also paved the way to more organically generated new customers.

*Nico Hinger: Founder Komma99 ( Komma99 is an online marketing agency from Vienna with a focus on SEO and SEA. We support companies throughout Europe with their digital visibility.

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