Reasons to Study How Users Interact With Your Page


Google's recently released Search Quality Rater Guidelines emphasize user satisfaction and usability more than they have in the past, it seems. There's a great thread on WebmasterWorld right now about analyzing CTR, pageviews, and time on site. All of those will tell you some things about how users interact with your pages. This discussion is interesting because the latter part of it is about how you need multiple signals to get a good read on user experience.

ergophobe wrote:
OK "user experience" explains behavior, based on bounce rate alone we have no idea if it's a good user experience or a bad one. Imagine two pages: 1. The query is [where to buy groceries in Podunk]. I have the most amazing, complete and perfect page on buying groceries in Podunk. Once people see my amazing page, they have no need to read further so they don't. Bounce rate is very high. 2. The query is [where to buy groceries in Podunk]. My page is a piece of crap, plastered with ads, minuscule fonts and and a terrible UX, but I've managed to get it to rank and I manage to get traffic there. Bounce rate is very high. Based on bounce rate, what have I learned?

The most recently revived part of the discussion is about Panda. A common piece of "get-out-of-Panda" advice is to cut low quality pages where you see poor user metrics. But it's debatable whether CTR, bounce rate, etc are even part of ranking. It's tricky - individually all signals seem to be very noisy and inconclusive. You need a well balanced spreadsheet of information to even begin to draw conclusions.