On February 23rd of 2011, Google put in place an algorithm change known as “Panda”. Historically, Google’s algorithm was intended to determine “what is this website about?” The next step is about really considering the way that users interact with the content on a website. The new Panda algorithm aims to better evaluate the quality of content and user experience on a site.
With that in mind, here are 22 user experience factors that Google has data on, and is likely considering in their algorithm.
On Page Visitor Behavior
- Page Printing Occurrences
- Page Scrolling Usage
- Amount of Time on Site
- Quantity of Page Views
- Level of Bounce Rates
- Site Preview Behavior – Previews that are over-looked will move down in results, previews clicked more often may move up. Plan pages accordingly. Are users seeing results in a preview that are relevant to their search term?
Feedback from Visitors
- Quantity of Facebook Likes
- Amount of “+1’s”
- Brand Name Search Frequency
- Number of Repeat Visitors
- Incorporation of User Generated Content – Run surveys or polls on your site or others, high traffic sites can utilize forums
- Quantity of Google Chrome Blocks – Google Chrome has 19% search market share and there is a manual plug-in in the toolbar that allows visitors to block certain sites (that the user doesn’t find value in) from coming up in search results. High instances of Google Chrome blocks will affect sites negatively.
User-Friendly Site Features
- Unique Tool Offerings
- New Media Incorporation (videos)
- Quality of Ads on Site – Tracked through CTRs on AdSense, ads with low CTRs and high bounces affect sites negatively
- Ad Density on Site - Ads should not take up more than a certain percentage of a standard web page view
- Disclosure of Purchasing Behavior (popular items) – Displaying popularly purchased items helps establish credibility with buyers
- Appropriate Reading Levels – Newspapers are at an 8th grade reading level, websites should be lower. Check reading level tools to compare your site to your competition. Remember ‘easy to read’ is not necessarily ‘dumbing it down’. Long words, long sentences and long paragraphs could cause extra internal translation time, even for a high level reader.
- Spelling Errors - Even in user comments, can be an issue. Statistics show bad reviews with correct spelling will sell better than good reviews with typos.
- Keyword Stuffing – Use different variations of words and synonyms. Using the term, “bikini” multiple times instead of mixing in “two-piece”, doesn’t read well. Don’t focus on keyword percentages, focus on quality and readability.
- Copy Sameness – Make sure pages with similar keywords give new concepts or information. Four pages on “green frogs” without different, new information will be considered negatively.
- Weak Pages – Kill pages that aren’t ranking and have little traffic, likely they were created for SEO but have brought no value
With these factors in mind, it’s important to consider how your site compares to your competitors. Don’t try to trick the system to amplify any of these factors or other signals won’t match up. Use the Google Panda updates to your advantage by creating useful, quality content that earns positive reactions from your users.