The key to staying at the top of the search listings is to understand your users. Why? It’s simple. Organic search rankings are impacted by user behavior data. The more you know who your customers are and what they are looking for, the better you can serve them. In return, you will become a trusted and reliable source for your audience, and they will visit you often.
Why Optimizing Content is Important
The best way to collect user behavior data and use the information to your advantage is by optimizing your content. This is something that not many marketers do. According to Forrester Research, organizations use about 5 percent or less of their available data. Rather, content marketers focus on keywords.
Keywords are still important because users search for certain words or phrases that will bring them to your website. But it’s important to think beyond the keyword itself. You must try to understand the intent behind the keyword.
When people search for keywords, there is always a reason behind it. They may be looking for further information or attempting to answer a question. When they read content that leaves an impression on them, they tend to remember where it came from.
Thinking Beyond the Keyword
With so much content on the web, it’s easy to forget about the stuff we read about, except when it makes us feel something. This is what you hope to achieve with your own audience. The more you understand the intent behind the keyword, the better you can write content that will leave a mark on your readers.
For instance, if a user is searching for “symptoms of strep throat,” how do you think they are feeling at the time? Probably not too good. Writing in an understanding and reassuring tone is best. The user could find information on strep throat anywhere, but if it’s your content that makes them feel better, they will remember YOU.
User behavior data constantly changes. As users grow in their knowledge, they become better searchers. Someone who has had strep throat many times won’t need to search for the symptoms. They will have more specific questions they want answered, or they may be doing their own research as to why they are getting sick so frequently.
By collecting and making sense of user behavior data, you can create content that will draw in readers and improve your SEO.
How User Behavior Affects Search
To understand how user behavior data affects SEO, let’s start with a few basics on how things work behind the scenes.
The search engine algorithms are complicated, as there are over 200 ranking factors. Google is clear and upfront about some of them. Yet in order to remain competitive, Google can’t give away all of their secrets. So there remains many parts of the algorithms that we don’t fully understand.
That said, the biggest thing that the search engines look at comes down to user experience. When users are happy, Google is happy.
How the Search Engines Collect Data
While we don’t know everything there is to know about how the search algorithms collect data from users, we do know a few things. Spiders crawl and index web pages, and Google stores updated information about these pages in their own index.
When a user types a keyword into Google, it sends a request back to its index. Before the result is returned to the user, it has to alert the algorithm. The search listings are delivered back to the user, all in a ranked list. There are millions of results on some searches, and they are organized in just a few seconds. It’s amazing, really.
In these few seconds, Google is trying to figure out what the keyword is all about, aside from the literal interpretation. This is where all those ranking factors come into play. Google assesses the quality, relevancy and freshness of the content and then ranks websites to deliver the best possible results to the user.
Why Posting Content is Important
Google can get a better understanding of how users interact with your content when you post a lot of it. This is why it’s important to keep distributing engaging material that helps your users in some way.
When Google sees positive interactions between users and your content, the algorithm will rank your content higher. Moreover, regular blogging leads to more website visitors, more inbound links, more leads and more indexed pages. You can read more about the power of content in this article.
What Types of User Behavior Data Impact Search Rankings
Google looks at all types of user behavior data to determine how a website should be ranked. Below are a few examples of user behavior that you should be paying attention to. Google is.
Click-through rate: The pages that users click on are believed to be more useful and relevant. Research shows that the more engaging and personalized content is, the higher the click-through rate is.
Navigational paths: It’s always important to look at how a user gets from one point to the next. What path did they follow? Were they brought in from a landing page? When did they go through the exit?
Search position: When users are returned the results to their search, they must choose one link to click on. Does a user choose a particular website because of its meta description, title or URL? Or is it all about where you are in the listings?
Maintaining Placement in the Long-Term
If you are one of the lucky ones that has SEO figured out by today’s standards, there’s no doubt that you’ve thought about what the future holds. How can you continue to stay in the top rankings? How much will SEO change?
SEO will continue to evolve, but there is one element that will probably always remain important: engaging, useful and high quality content.
Why does content matter so much?
It drives traffic to your blog and website.
It attracts natural editorial links.
It increases your social media presence.
It improves brand recognition.
It boosts link authority.
It instills trust and credibility in consumers.
User behavior data can seem complicated at times, but it’s really not. What’s challenging is actually understanding your audience so that you can communicate effectively.
At the very least, remember that the people reading your content are humans. It’s easy to get tied up in the analytics of everything, but your content needs to serve a purpose beyond refreshing your blog and adding another index page. When you understand what your users want by tracking their behaviors, you’ll find that it’s easier to leave an impression on them. This is what keeps them coming back for more.