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They Can’t Get No Satisfaction — Ranking

There’s a lot of hoopla out there about numbers — 200+ ranking signals, 500 algorithm updates per year, PageRank, Domain Authority, Authorship Authority, Bully’s Authority, on and on. But let’s get real for a second — there’s exactly one thing that Google’s Search Team wants (beyond record-setting AdWords profits), and that’s to give people what they want.

That means that, no matter what else happens in the SEO world, “give the end user what they want” will always correlate well with high rankings. There’s not even any ooey-gooey magic sparkles behind it — satisfaction ranking is, in fact, another one of those numbers.

The problem with searching for ‘satisfaction’ as a ranking factor is that search engines don’t share their internal data — there’s nowhere you can look on Google for “the number of people who clicked on my site and then clicked ‘back’ and clicked on the next link because they didn’t find what they were looking for.’

Google, for example, measures satisfaction in terms of bounce rate and ‘long clicks’ — people who clicked onto a site and never came back to the search (or came back after an extended period of time.) ‘Short clicks’ (searchers who almost immediately came back to or re-performed a search after clicking on a link) are solid markers of low satisfaction. This is a part of why so many SEOers are obsessed with reducing a site’s bounce rate — because a bounce is the other side of a short click.

How to Improve Satisfaction Ratings
It might seem like there isn’t a lot you can do to improve your satisfaction rankings, but Google disagrees. In fact, almost their entire suite of Panda rules was invented in order to encourage higher satisfaction on the part of compliant websites.

You can also take advantage of Google’s free website satisfaction surveys, which create an exit script that asks your customers how satisfied they were, what they found least appealing/most frustrating, and why they came to your site in the first place. Even if only 1% of your visitors take the time to complete the survey, they can provide some excellent insight as to what people expect to find on your site — and what you can change to make it more enjoyable for them.

Most of the rest of the stuff should be old hat to anyone who reads this blog regularly:

    Improve page load times
  • Remove barriers to content (no logins, popups, etc.)
  • Have clear navigation elements
  • Outlink well

Wait…Outlink Well?
OK, so that’s not one that I’ve mentioned a lot before, but outlinking is basically the practice of connecting your content to other relevant content produced by authorities in the field. People who follow a Google link to your site and then follow an outlink to Wikipedia or About or whatever still count as ‘satisfied’ as far as Google is concerned, so turning your content into a ‘hub’ for other excellent content is a good way to improve your satisfaction rankings.

Basically, make your page accessible and useful, and then ask people to tell you how you could do that better — that’s how you can make your page more satisfying.

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