In this Whiteboard Friday release Rand Fishkin told why the user's task performance is important for Google, and how to optimize the websites for this factor.
Stop thinking about links, content and RankBrain! There is a new ranking factor, which is very important one. If you put jokes aside, then the idea of accomplishing the task of the user performing the search is a very attractive argument in favor of how websites should be optimized.
Speaking about the new ranking factor, let's clarify one thing: it is not an element that is built into the Google algorithm. To evaluate a website for compliance with a criterion such as "performing a user task," Google analyzes many different things. In fact, it involves all its ranking signals. So, this is what SEO specialists need to think about while optimizing their resources today.
What is meant by "performing the task of the user"
Let's see it from the example. Suppose the user performs a search on the request [maim cleansing]. It is clear that the user wants to do something about it. In fact, it does not matter what a person is looking for, because his goal is not to get a set of results, but to solve a problem. For Google, the results that solve this problem faster and better than all, as well as to achieve the highest quality; these are the results that he wants to rank.
Before Google had to create all sorts of algorithms to get this information. However, now, by measuring the engagement and all the data that comes through Chrome and Android, it is able to get a much more accurate idea of what is actually a task of the user. Google really wants to provide those results that satisfy the request and help to solve the problem.
Therefore, almost every information and transaction request (except navigation requests, which purpose is to go to a specific site) is basically focused on the task of the user. A search query is an expression of need. This is what the user tells Google. At the same time, there are also a number of goals, those things that a person wants to do. For instance, to get information, to do something, to complete the action.
When a user makes a search, he evaluates the results by these criteria. Do they help to do what he wants? Then he chooses one of them and determines whether it can really help him to accomplish his task.
If so, then he may have additional needs related to the initial request. For example, having received a response to a query on how to cleanse a maim, he may ask how to prevent infection, since the website also says what consequences the cut might lead to.
The user can also decide that the selected result does not help him fulfill his task. So, he returns to the evaluation of the search results, or changes the request that meets his request more accurately.
All this gives Google information about whether the particular result helps the user to accomplish his task or not.
Examples of executing a user task
If the user is looking for information about how to publish a book, this expression means a requirement. However, there are different goals that may go under this request. For example, the user may be interested in such aspects as publishing a book through the publisher or by himself. Then he may want to know about agents and publishers, and also about how the whole process is arranged. After that, he will want to familiarize himself with aspects such as covers and how to promote your books, as well as tracking sales, etc. When evaluating the results of a search, he finds additional needs and finds the information he wants to know.
If the user enters the request [investment into the etherium], he probably already knows enough to start investing in that currency. Or he wants to find out what is blockchain and crypto currency, what is the currency system based on the blockbuster, how is this market organized, and what is the current situation about all this, as well as what the buying process looks like; where you can buy crypto currency, and what do you need to do in order to complete the transaction?
If the user searches for [FHA loan] (FHA is the US Department of Housing and Urban Development), then he is most likely interested in buying real estate. This means that he may be interested in such issues as the conditions of loans by region, what the credit process looks like, and who deals with these issues in his area.
If a user enters a request for a [events in Seattle], then perhaps he is interested in a list of several such places. Then he will need to narrow down this list according to an important criterion, such as region, capacity, price or convenience. After the user receives all this information, he needs the contacts of the selected location.
In all these scenarios Google prefers those results that help complete the user's task, identify additional needs and also meet them. However, those results that provide only a part of the information on a user-specified topic and force it to return to the search results and search for something else or to change the search query are less preferable for the search engine.
Google also encourages those websites that provide the user with all the information they need and help him accomplish his task before they ask for something in return. Those results that represent the landing page, for example: "Fill out the form and we will send you a list of all the events that take place in Seattle that suits you most" - guess what? Regardless of how many links they have, they are not ranked.
The current search system is extremely different from what we had earlier. In the past, you could post such firms, collect user information, do not solve their problem, but rank them with quality links, correct anchor text and keywords on the page. However, the days of this approach has finished. Though it is still alive, it is coming to an end, and a new era is beginning, oriented to the fulfillment of the user's task.
The problem that needs to be solved: the conflict between SEO and CRO
There is a real problem between the approach to user-oriented optimization and the classical conversion-oriented approach. CRO is the organization specialist (marketing director, head of the company or a separate specialist) that wants the conversion rates to be maximum.
In the case of a page with the form of lodogenesis, the CRO-specialist can strive to ensure that the conversion rate increases from 2% to 4%. How to reach this indicator? Remove everything that distracts the user from filling out the form. This means that you need to refrain from providing information in advance. Now, to get this information, the user needs to fulfill a certain condition, i.e. to fill out the form. Unlike CRO, SEO specialist thinks about how to help the user to perform his task without hindrance. The obstacle is the form for collecting leads.
Thus, each and every organization must decide what it's going to do. Will it focus on long-term SEO (solving the user's problem and finding ways for future monetization and profit-making) or will it suffer losses in the search and attract traffic from other resources.
How to enforce the task of the user
Let's say you decided to leave CRO and join SEO. You will need to find answers to the following questions:
What prompts users to go for a search?
Why do some users remain dissatisfied?
Why do they click the "Back" button and choose a different result?
Why do they change their request to another one?
Solution to the first question
The best way to understand why people behave in one way or another is to ask them about it. For this you can use methods given below:
Following this link you will find a short survey on finding information about publication of the book. With the survey we wanted to know what kind of content people would like to receive in search results.
Another powerful method is personal communication. During the conversation, you can get the information that can not be collected remotely or through an email survey.
You can also held competitors analysis and see what they say and do , while you still stay behind all this.
Finally, you can try to be in the user's shoes and perform the search. For example, if you were looking for information about cleansing a body cur, what would you like to know? And if you were looking for information on loans, what would you be interested in?
By collecting these data, think about how you can meet the needs of users with content or convenient navigation on the website so that they do not have to return to the search results.
Solution on the second question
1) Automatic hints and related queries. In the "Users also search for" section, usually (not always) those requests that people input after performing the initial search are displayed. With their help you can find out what users need.
2) Internal analytics for those users who visited the page and performed a search on the website or clicked on the "Next" link on the page. What did they want to do? Where did they want to move on?
3) Communicating with those people who have passed only a part of your funnel. For example, if you collect users' email addresses, you can contact those people who came to you to get a solution, but did not complete the purchase process.
4) Monitoring search results and monitoring those, whose positions are growing and falling in the search results. According to our data, more and more websites oriented at the fulfillment of the user's task get higher positions in the search result ranking, and those who do not do this are go out of the Top.
In the course of time, monitoring the search results and competitors in your subject, you can see what types of content help people to perform their tasks and what Google likes more.