The Satisfaction Algorithm

user satisfaction

All webmasters will agree that all the algorithm updates, all the ranking signals used by Google are intended to serve just one purpose – to satisfy the user. Google has never stopped and is continuously finding ways to give the best search results for the users. And most of these efforts are geared towards achieving that goal. This makes ‘Satisfaction’  an actual ranking factor.

But not like the other ranking factors, satisfaction as a ranking factor is difficult to measure as it is based almost entirely on Google’s own internal data. And that is something Google is not willing to share. With that unknown, one can only surmise what metrics Google use to evaluate the performance of its own search results. And it looks like Google and other search engines place so much importance in satisfaction when ranking a website.

measuring satisfactionMeasuring and Predicting Satisfaction

  • Understanding User Behavior in Search Results. A description on how Google engineers discovered how to improve search results is contained in the excellent book “In the Plex” by Stephen Levy. That portion on the book explains the “pogosticking” practice or behavior manifested by the users. This means that users click on a search result, then “pogostick” back and forth between the search results pages and the different websites, searching for the page that will make them stay long because they found the information they were looking for. If users go to the next page of results, it could signal that they are not happy.

  • Search Quality Raters. Google’s Search Quality Raters evaluate search results using the abbreviated copy of Search Quality Rating Guidelines which was released in 2012. Quality raters assign the highest score to a page as “useful”. This means that the pages are of high quality and relevant to the search query. In addition, the pages should be authoritative, entertaining, recent or current and highly satisfying. If the webpages are well organized, they might end up with a “useful” tag.

  • Panda. Google is given by Panda the ability to predict satisfaction instead of evaluating results. Google patterns it after actual human surveys and apply it to every site in its index. Every few weeks, Google updates the index with new data based on Panda’s predictive tool.

Every Marketer’s Goal

While it’s obvious what Google is looking for after all these years, that is, to satisfy users  with the search results, search marketers and webmasters should target the same goal by:

improving satisfaction

Improving User Satisfaction

A few ways to improve visitor satisfaction and earn praises from Google include:

  • Using Google’s free website satisfaction surveys. The recently released free customer satisfaction surveys can be embedded in the websites. This will help get feedback about visitor satisfaction.

  • Removing barriers to make the site more accessible for both the search engine robots and the users.

  • Speeding up loading of the page can definitely make a user satisfied with the site experience compared to pages which take years to load up.

  • Empathy. By putting yourself in the shoes of the users or visitors, you are a step towards satisfying your users or visitors. If you are the user, you would want a comprehensive reference material with answers to their questions, relevant links and resources to click for verification or cross referencing, and with surprises and extras here and there.

  • Linking out can increase user satisfaction and this is according to AJ Kohn in his SEO article “Time to Long Click”.  By linking out to other valuable resources, you are fully satisfying the user’s hunger for information. Having those links or long clicks will keep your visitors wanting for more so they’d come back repeatedly on the site in search for those links.

In summary, it’s all about satisfying robots and the users or visitors.

Images via Google Images


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