If I were to define user behavior in simple words, I would say – it is the way users interact with your website. Which pages are they checking? Which pages are they bouncing off? Which pages do they spend the most time on?

User behavior data answers all these questions.

But the bigger question to ask is – Do search engines use user behavior data as a ranking factor?

The answer is yes. And, that brings up the next question – How can you use user behavior data to boost your website? I’ve been asked a few questions regarding this – Can it be used like keyword optimization? How can it be leveraged/manipulated to improve SEO? And what really is user behavior data?

Click-Through-Rate

How to convert more clients

This is the first thing that search engines track. When your website link is listed on a search engine result, it tracks the click-through-rate (CTR) or how many users are clicking on your link. The more clicks your links gets, the higher the search engine will pull up the link.

When it comes to CTR, be aware of position bias. A user will automatically click on the top results and ignore the ones below. 90% of users don’t look beyond the first page of search results. But, there’s good news – your link is not destined to remain as a low result. CTR is just one of the user behavior metrics that search engines track and you can enhance your SEO rank by improving the other user behavior metrics.

Another point is – Is your link attractive on the search result? One way to improve your CTR is to make the link attractive. This includes several things – Page title, URL and meta description. Leverage each of these to ensure that it’s attractive to click on.

On the Site

When users are on the site, there are a host of user behavior metrics to track. How long is the session duration? What is the bounce rate? How interactive/active are users on the site?

All of that is onsite user behavior data. Google’s Panda update did wonders to improve the search engine’s tracking capabilities. Bounce rates are an indication that your website does not provide users what they’re searching for. So even if you have a high CTR, bounce rates tell Google that you aren’t answering the question.

Interesting point – search engines don’t know if a person is really reading a page (session duration) or just left the page open.

Google uses user behavior data effectively to understand the importance of the URL and assign search engine rank. Furthermore, each URL can lend on to each other and improve SEO. For example, Page A has high users session duration and low bounce rate, while Page B does not. Page A can link to Page B to receive time-label credit from the link.

Filling in the Address Bar

There are three things when it comes to filling in an address bar. Users who:

– Type the whole URL (most significant)

– Type the partial URL and the rest is filled with auto-complete (medium significant)

– Just follow a hyperlink (least significant)

Each one tells search engines the significance of the URL and it is taken into account for SEO rank.

Give a Good User Experience

Search engine optimization and design

Okay, so I’ve kind of given you the low-down of user behavior data, and how it affects search engines. What can you do? Well, THE best thing you can do is give a good user experience on your website.

Responsive website:

A responsive website focuses on easy reading and interactivity. That includes easy website navigation, minimal style and quick loading time.

Give users what they want

The biggest reason for a high bounce rate is because users don’t get what they want. For example, they click a link for best car repair tips, but they land up on a page that gives information on cycle repairs. Users are weary of spam and are impatient. The moment they find the site doesn’t have the information they want, they’re out.

Easy read

So you provide information that the user is searching for? That’s good. But if the page is cluttered, too loud and has terrible page structure, then it’s not going to be an easy read.

These are just some main pointers on good user experience. With the above information, you should know what you’re doing now, how your website is creating a good user experience and how positive user behavior data will improve your SEO.