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When “what’s good for users”
isn’t good for Google
Will Critchlow -- @willcritchlow
SearchLove Boston 2019
UX is a ranking
factor
UX is a ranking
factor
UX is a ranking
factorHow users see
your site
UX is a ranking
factor
UX is a ranking
factor
UX is a ranking
factorAffects organic
search performance
Not everyone agrees
Don’t worry. I have seen the reddit threads and twitter arguments
Later, I’ll get onto why I don’t care
Round up
UX ranking
factors
Make it
actionable
Round up
UX ranking
factors
Make it
actionable
Controversial Accepted
CTR for algorithm
evaluation
This has been
confirmed
repeatedly.
Paul Haahr
Worth following @haahr
His online bio dramatically
understates his influence:
https://youtu.be/iJPu4vHETXw
“I’ve talked explicitly about using
clickthrough rate for experiments”
https://youtu.be/eGSGZMI4Z_I?t=979
Controversial Accepted
CTR for
personalization
Slightly more
controversial as
we don’t know
exactly what they
mean.
“We use it [CTR] for personalization”
https://youtu.be/eGSGZMI4Z_I?t=991
Controversial Accepted
Human UX
ratings
Qualitative ratings
of pages that rank:
used to evaluate
algorithms
“... make this page a frustratingly
poor user experience”
-- reason for page quality rating
Search quality rater guideline...
We also got to see the “leaked” UX playbooks come out of Google recently across a
range of industries - getting deep into ...
Controversial Accepted
ML models
trained on ratings
E.g. Panda -
trained to like the
things humans
like
Back in 2011, I was suggesting we run our own
Panda-like quality surveys (WBF here, instructions here)
Sidenote: totally worth running
these surveys for executive buy-in
Since Panda went real-time, quality issues don’t necess...
Client site 1 Client site 2
Would you trust information from this website? 72% 64%
Client site 1 Client site 2 Key competitor
Would you trust information from this website? 72% 64% 81%
Client site 1 Client site 2 Key competitor
Would you trust information from this website? 72% 64% 81%
Is this website writ...
Client site 1 Client site 2 Key competitor
Would you trust information from this website? 72% 64% 81%
Is this website writ...
Client site 1 Client site 2 Key competitor
Would you trust information from this website? 72% 64% 81%
Is this website writ...
Client site 1 Client site 2 Key competitor
Would you trust information from this website? 72% 64% 81%
Is this website writ...
Client site 1 Client site 2 Key competitor
Would you trust information from this website? 72% 64% 81%
Is this website writ...
Client site 1 Client site 2 Key competitor
Would you trust information from this website? 72% 64% 81%
Is this website writ...
Client site 1 Client site 2 Key competitor
Would you trust information from this website? 72% 64% 81%
Is this website writ...
Client site 1 Client site 2 Key competitor
Would you trust information from this website? 72% 64% 81%
Is this website writ...
Client site 1 Client site 2 Key competitor
Would you trust information from this website? 72% 64% 81%
Is this website writ...
We also asked for free-text feedback and
found some surprising priorities from
non-SEOs
“The reviews seem fake”
Trust is a huge deal for real-world users
“There's not enough information
about the company and why I
should use their products”
On a micro-site that doesn’t have a...
“In this day and age every page that
has anything at all to do with
business should be https”
Security is a big deal in B2...
“The pictures were of low quality
and blurry”
We know this matters to users. It’s at the easier end of ML detection
Controversial Accepted
Site speed
measured
directly
Real User Metrics
including site
speed from
Chrome
https://moz.com/blog/google-chrome-usage-data-measure-site-speed
https://moz.com/blog/google-chrome-usage-data-measure-site-speed
First announced at SearchLove San Diego last year
“The Chrome User Experience Report is powered by
real user measurement of key user experience
metrics across the public we...
Soft denial by Gary Illyes in his AMA
Q: Is CrUX data being used to assess page
speed as a ranking factor?
A: “I don't rem...
Controversial Accepted
CTR as direct
ranking factor
This has been
explicitly denied
by Google reps.
https://www.slideshare.net/randfish/mad-science-experiments-in-seo-social-media
MozCon 2014
We’ve seen similar things in-person
with experiments at conferences
[Note: others have tried to reproduce results more rec...
More:
https://sparktoro.com/blog/queries-clicks-influence-googles-results/
But: not everyone agrees
https://www.reddit.com/r/TechSEO/comments/ao3fmk/i_am_gary_illyes_googles_chief_of_sunshine_and/
“In the most general, broadest way - without
attempting to skirt, skip, duck or dive it, does
Google use interactions of s...
“we primarily use these things in
evaluations.”
“Can you please confirm/deny whether [RankBrain]
uses UX signals of any kind?”
-- /user/Darth_Autocrat
“Dwell time, CTR, whatever Fishkin's
new theory is, those are generally
made up crap”
“Dwell time, CTR, whatever Fishkin's
new theory is, those are generally
made up crap”
A little devil’s advocacy: are there any charitable interpretations?
Technically correct
Not exactly clickthrough rate
[Something more like “difference between expected and observed CTR”?]
Technically correct
Not exactly a “ranking factor”
[They call it something more like a “post-evaluation modifier” or someth...
Dodging the question
“primarily use”
[and maybe limiting the “crap” comments to RankBrain?]
Dodging the question
“primarily use”
[and maybe limiting the “crap” comments to RankBrain?]
Dodging the question
“primarily use”
[and maybe limiting the “crap” comments to RankBrain?]
1. They aren’t marketers
1. They aren’t marketers
2. Their interests aren’t
aligned with yours
1. They aren’t marketers
2. Their interests aren’t
aligned with yours
3. They “don’t
understand what it’s
doing exactly”(*...
I gave a
presentation here
last year:
“From the horse’s
mouth”
Slides & Video
But grrrr:
a) their job is
supposed to be
to help
webmasters
and
b) calling it
“made up crap” is
unprofessional
and discourages
the vulnerable
1. They aren’t marketers
2. Their interests aren’t
aligned with yours
3. They “don’t
understand what it’s
doing exactly”(*...
Some SERP
interaction as
some kind of
ranking factor
My theory.
We sell custom cigar humidors. Our
custom cigar humidors are handmade. If
you’re thinking of buying a custom cigar
humidor...
Controversial Accepted
Controversial Accepted
Controversial Accepted
Future
Controversial Accepted
Future
More intent
measurement?
Controversial Accepted
Future
More intent
measurement?
[“Needs met” is
already the
primary metric]
Controversial Accepted
Future
More intent
measurement?
Measure task
completion?
Controversial Accepted
Future
More intent
measurement?
Measure task
completion?
Consider
conversion rate?
So, given all of this, ALL we need to
do is optimize for UX then?
Um. No.
Evidence later
Google makes mistakes
Haahr talked about evaluating
algorithms on “next page click rate”
Adding white
space gamed
that metric
It’s also really hard, and people are
confusing
“There are so many experiments
that we’ve done that have very
misleading live metrics that you
really need to dig into”
“We had a long-running experiment
that swapped results two and four”
“My guess is more people would
scroll down and click on position
three”
“...actually more people click on
[position] one”
https://youtu.be/eGSGZMI4Z_I?t=1024
It is easy to think you have shown
something, but find it full of
confounding details when you dig
into the individual resu...
We just need to know that UX is aligned with Google’s goals
But we don’t need the futurist
perspectives or the tinfoil hat...
We just need to know that UX is aligned with Google’s goals
1. Panda (ML-trained on UX signals)
2. Quant and qual measurem...
We should be building SEO
hypotheses from UX fundamentals
If we’re talking UX, we’re talking CRO:
Conversion Rate Optimization
Most organisations treat them entirely separately
SEO CRO
Search Engine
Optimization
Conversion Rate
Optimization
But in truth there is a lot of overlap
SEO CRO
While some SEO changes don’t impact CRO
SEO
Meta info -
invisible to UX CRO
And some CRO changes don’t impact SEO
SEO
Non-indexed
pagesCRO
An awful lot of changes affect both
“How do we know the tests won’t
hurt conversion rate?”
Never: “how do we know our CRO
tests aren’t hurting rankings?”
Anyway. You ought to worry about BOTH
When CRO messes up SEO
When CRO messes up SEO
-25%!
I wrote a post at moz.com about how big an impact this can have
You think this is what happens as you roll out winning CRO tests
But you don’t realise that some of them are bad for search
What if there was a way to GET the best of
both?
You can do better if you only roll out the true winners
SEO split testing is template basedOur solution: full funnel testing
Conversion rate
optimization focuses on
converting more of your
existing traffic (bottom of
the funnel)
Conversion Rate
Opti...
Conversion rate
optimization focuses on
converting more of your
existing traffic (bottom of
the funnel)
Search engine
optimi...
Conversion rate
optimization focuses on
converting more of your
existing traffic (bottom of
the funnel)
Search engine
optimi...
How does it work?
SEO split testing is template basedHere’s how it works - on an example website
Home
Animals
Cats Dogs Unicorns Badgers
CatsCats
We want to test two templates for our animals pages
Cats Dogs Unicorns Badgers
CRO test - different users see different templates on the same pages
1
Cats Dogs Unicorns Badgers
CRO test - different users see different templates on the same pages
1
2
Cats BadgersDogs Unicorns
Cats Badgers
SEO test - different users see the same templates on DIFFERENT pages
1
2
Cats Badgers
Cats Badgers
Cats Badgers Unicorns Dogs
SEO test - different users see the same templates on DIFFERENT pages
Cats Badgers Unicorns Dogs
...
The site looks like this during the test
Home
Animals
Cats Dogs
Countries
Scotland England Ireland WalesUnicorns Badgers
Animals
A B A B A B A B
Animals
A B A B
SEO testingCRO testing vs.
Google’s view Animals
Cats Dogs Unicorns Badgers
AB BA
User view Animals
Cats Dogs Unicorns Badgers
AB BA
?????
Animals
Cats Dogs Unicorns Badgers
AB BA
Landing page
established
What do unicorns eat
SEO test
complete
Animals
Cats Dogs Unicorns Badgers
AB BA
What do unicorns eat
Cookied
AA AA
What do unicorns eat
Animals
Cats Dogs Unicorns Badgers
Second page
view
Animals
Cats Dogs Unicorns Badgers
AA AA
What do unicorns eat
Third page view Animals
Cats Dogs Unicorns Badgers
AA AA
What do unicorns eat
Sidenote:
This just makes better SEO tests
anyway BTW
By avoiding an inconsistent user experience as they browse the site
In summary
UX is a ranking
factor?
Not everyone agrees
Controversial Accepted
We just need to know that UX is aligned with Google’s goals
But we don’t need the futurist
perspectives or the tinfoil hat...
We just need to know that UX is aligned with Google’s goals
1. Panda (ML-trained on UX signals)
2. Quant and qual measurem...
To know that we should be building
SEO hypotheses from UX
fundamentals
BUT: then we affect users and search
SEO split testing is template basedWhich is why I believe the future of SEO is testing
Thank you
Will Critchlow, CEO Distilled
@willcritchlow
With help, ideas, slides and more from @craigbradford,
@dom_woodman...
Questions: @willcritchlow
Image credits
● Hornet
● Beach
● Paul Haahr
● Google
● Smile
● Pug
● Chrome
● Tinfoil hat
● Broken plate
● Confused monkey...
SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google
SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google
SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google
SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google
SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google
SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google
SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google
SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google
SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google
SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google
SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google
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SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 1 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 2 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 3 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 4 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 5 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 6 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 7 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 8 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 9 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 10 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 11 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 12 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 13 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 14 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 15 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 16 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 17 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 18 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 19 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 20 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 21 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 22 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 23 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 24 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 25 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 26 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 27 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 28 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 29 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 30 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 31 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 32 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 33 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 34 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 35 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 36 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 37 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 38 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 39 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 40 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 41 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 42 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 43 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 44 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 45 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 46 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 47 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 48 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 49 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 50 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 51 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 52 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 53 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 54 SearchLove Boston 2019 - 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Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 100 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 101 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 102 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 103 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 104 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 105 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 106 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 107 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 108 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 109 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 110 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 111 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 112 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 113 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 114 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 115 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 116 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 117 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 118 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 119 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 120 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 121 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 122 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 123 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 124 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 125 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 126 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 127 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 128 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 129 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 130 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 131 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 132 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 133 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 134 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 135 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 136 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 137 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 138 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 139 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 140 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 141 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 142 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 143 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 144 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 145 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 146 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 147 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 148 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 149 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 150 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 151 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 152 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 153 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 154 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 155 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 156 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 157 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 158 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 159 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 160 SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google Slide 161
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SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google

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We know that Google wants to align their results with the websites that make searchers happy. We expect to see more and more ranking factors that align with this - whether based on actual usage data, machine-learned equivalents, or simply from evaluating algorithm changes based on their impacts on usage. But on our journey to that point, it's important to realize that changes made to improve conversion rate or UX could harm search performance, and vice versa. How do we navigate this complexity? That's what Will is going to be covering.

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SearchLove Boston 2019 - Will Critchlow - SEO + CRO: When ‘What’s Good for Users’ Isn’t Good for Google

  1. 1. When “what’s good for users” isn’t good for Google Will Critchlow -- @willcritchlow SearchLove Boston 2019
  2. 2. UX is a ranking factor
  3. 3. UX is a ranking factor
  4. 4. UX is a ranking factorHow users see your site
  5. 5. UX is a ranking factor
  6. 6. UX is a ranking factor
  7. 7. UX is a ranking factorAffects organic search performance
  8. 8. Not everyone agrees Don’t worry. I have seen the reddit threads and twitter arguments
  9. 9. Later, I’ll get onto why I don’t care
  10. 10. Round up UX ranking factors
  11. 11. Make it actionable
  12. 12. Round up UX ranking factors Make it actionable
  13. 13. Controversial Accepted
  14. 14. CTR for algorithm evaluation This has been confirmed repeatedly.
  15. 15. Paul Haahr Worth following @haahr His online bio dramatically understates his influence:
  16. 16. https://youtu.be/iJPu4vHETXw
  17. 17. “I’ve talked explicitly about using clickthrough rate for experiments”
  18. 18. https://youtu.be/eGSGZMI4Z_I?t=979
  19. 19. Controversial Accepted
  20. 20. CTR for personalization Slightly more controversial as we don’t know exactly what they mean.
  21. 21. “We use it [CTR] for personalization”
  22. 22. https://youtu.be/eGSGZMI4Z_I?t=991
  23. 23. Controversial Accepted
  24. 24. Human UX ratings Qualitative ratings of pages that rank: used to evaluate algorithms
  25. 25. “... make this page a frustratingly poor user experience” -- reason for page quality rating Search quality rater guidelines [PDF]
  26. 26. We also got to see the “leaked” UX playbooks come out of Google recently across a range of industries - getting deep into implementation details. [H/T @gfiorelli1]
  27. 27. Controversial Accepted
  28. 28. ML models trained on ratings E.g. Panda - trained to like the things humans like
  29. 29. Back in 2011, I was suggesting we run our own Panda-like quality surveys (WBF here, instructions here)
  30. 30. Sidenote: totally worth running these surveys for executive buy-in Since Panda went real-time, quality issues don’t necessarily cause obvious drops correlated with algorithm history dates
  31. 31. Client site 1 Client site 2 Would you trust information from this website? 72% 64%
  32. 32. Client site 1 Client site 2 Key competitor Would you trust information from this website? 72% 64% 81%
  33. 33. Client site 1 Client site 2 Key competitor Would you trust information from this website? 72% 64% 81% Is this website written by experts? 50% 46% 65%
  34. 34. Client site 1 Client site 2 Key competitor Would you trust information from this website? 72% 64% 81% Is this website written by experts? 50% 46% 65% Would you give this site your credit card details? 29% 21% 43%
  35. 35. Client site 1 Client site 2 Key competitor Would you trust information from this website? 72% 64% 81% Is this website written by experts? 50% 46% 65% Would you give this site your credit card details? 29% 21% 43% Are there any noticeable errors on this page? 6% 4% 1%
  36. 36. Client site 1 Client site 2 Key competitor Would you trust information from this website? 72% 64% 81% Is this website written by experts? 50% 46% 65% Would you give this site your credit card details? 29% 21% 43% Are there any noticeable errors on this page? 6% 4% 1% Does this page provide original content or info? 76% 72% 85%
  37. 37. Client site 1 Client site 2 Key competitor Would you trust information from this website? 72% 64% 81% Is this website written by experts? 50% 46% 65% Would you give this site your credit card details? 29% 21% 43% Are there any noticeable errors on this page? 6% 4% 1% Does this page provide original content or info? 76% 72% 85% Would you recognize this site as an authority? 44% 33% 58%
  38. 38. Client site 1 Client site 2 Key competitor Would you trust information from this website? 72% 64% 81% Is this website written by experts? 50% 46% 65% Would you give this site your credit card details? 29% 21% 43% Are there any noticeable errors on this page? 6% 4% 1% Does this page provide original content or info? 76% 72% 85% Would you recognize this site as an authority? 44% 33% 58% Does this website contain insightful analysis? 72% 62% 81%
  39. 39. Client site 1 Client site 2 Key competitor Would you trust information from this website? 72% 64% 81% Is this website written by experts? 50% 46% 65% Would you give this site your credit card details? 29% 21% 43% Are there any noticeable errors on this page? 6% 4% 1% Does this page provide original content or info? 76% 72% 85% Would you recognize this site as an authority? 44% 33% 58% Does this website contain insightful analysis? 72% 62% 81% Would you consider bookmarking pages on this site? 44% 38% 56%
  40. 40. Client site 1 Client site 2 Key competitor Would you trust information from this website? 72% 64% 81% Is this website written by experts? 50% 46% 65% Would you give this site your credit card details? 29% 21% 43% Are there any noticeable errors on this page? 6% 4% 1% Does this page provide original content or info? 76% 72% 85% Would you recognize this site as an authority? 44% 33% 58% Does this website contain insightful analysis? 72% 62% 81% Would you consider bookmarking pages on this site? 44% 38% 56% Are there excessive adverts on this website? 2% 2% 8%
  41. 41. Client site 1 Client site 2 Key competitor Would you trust information from this website? 72% 64% 81% Is this website written by experts? 50% 46% 65% Would you give this site your credit card details? 29% 21% 43% Are there any noticeable errors on this page? 6% 4% 1% Does this page provide original content or info? 76% 72% 85% Would you recognize this site as an authority? 44% 33% 58% Does this website contain insightful analysis? 72% 62% 81% Would you consider bookmarking pages on this site? 44% 38% 56% Are there excessive adverts on this website? 2% 2% 8% Could pages from this site appear in print? 54% 54% 59%
  42. 42. We also asked for free-text feedback and found some surprising priorities from non-SEOs
  43. 43. “The reviews seem fake” Trust is a huge deal for real-world users
  44. 44. “There's not enough information about the company and why I should use their products” On a micro-site that doesn’t have an “about” page
  45. 45. “In this day and age every page that has anything at all to do with business should be https” Security is a big deal in B2B - even without on-site purchases
  46. 46. “The pictures were of low quality and blurry” We know this matters to users. It’s at the easier end of ML detection
  47. 47. Controversial Accepted
  48. 48. Site speed measured directly Real User Metrics including site speed from Chrome
  49. 49. https://moz.com/blog/google-chrome-usage-data-measure-site-speed
  50. 50. https://moz.com/blog/google-chrome-usage-data-measure-site-speed First announced at SearchLove San Diego last year
  51. 51. “The Chrome User Experience Report is powered by real user measurement of key user experience metrics across the public web, aggregated from users who have opted-in to syncing their browsing history, have not set up a Sync passphrase, and have usage statistic reporting enabled.” Chrome User Experience Report documentation and announcement
  52. 52. Soft denial by Gary Illyes in his AMA Q: Is CrUX data being used to assess page speed as a ranking factor? A: “I don't remember where the data is coming from, but not our publicly available tools”
  53. 53. Controversial Accepted
  54. 54. CTR as direct ranking factor This has been explicitly denied by Google reps.
  55. 55. https://www.slideshare.net/randfish/mad-science-experiments-in-seo-social-media
  56. 56. MozCon 2014
  57. 57. We’ve seen similar things in-person with experiments at conferences [Note: others have tried to reproduce results more recently including this failure to do so by Bartosz]
  58. 58. More: https://sparktoro.com/blog/queries-clicks-influence-googles-results/
  59. 59. But: not everyone agrees
  60. 60. https://www.reddit.com/r/TechSEO/comments/ao3fmk/i_am_gary_illyes_googles_chief_of_sunshine_and/
  61. 61. “In the most general, broadest way - without attempting to skirt, skip, duck or dive it, does Google use interactions of searchers to alter what position certain results may hold? Those actions could include, but aren't limited to; CTR, return and click another listing, adjusting the query, repeat search and repeat visit etc.” -- /user/Darth_Autocrat
  62. 62. “we primarily use these things in evaluations.”
  63. 63. “Can you please confirm/deny whether [RankBrain] uses UX signals of any kind?” -- /user/Darth_Autocrat
  64. 64. “Dwell time, CTR, whatever Fishkin's new theory is, those are generally made up crap”
  65. 65. “Dwell time, CTR, whatever Fishkin's new theory is, those are generally made up crap”
  66. 66. A little devil’s advocacy: are there any charitable interpretations?
  67. 67. Technically correct Not exactly clickthrough rate [Something more like “difference between expected and observed CTR”?]
  68. 68. Technically correct Not exactly a “ranking factor” [They call it something more like a “post-evaluation modifier” or something?]
  69. 69. Dodging the question “primarily use” [and maybe limiting the “crap” comments to RankBrain?]
  70. 70. Dodging the question “primarily use” [and maybe limiting the “crap” comments to RankBrain?]
  71. 71. Dodging the question “primarily use” [and maybe limiting the “crap” comments to RankBrain?]
  72. 72. 1. They aren’t marketers
  73. 73. 1. They aren’t marketers 2. Their interests aren’t aligned with yours
  74. 74. 1. They aren’t marketers 2. Their interests aren’t aligned with yours 3. They “don’t understand what it’s doing exactly”(*) (*) Haahr on RankBrain
  75. 75. I gave a presentation here last year: “From the horse’s mouth” Slides & Video
  76. 76. But grrrr: a) their job is supposed to be to help webmasters
  77. 77. and b) calling it “made up crap” is unprofessional and discourages the vulnerable
  78. 78. 1. They aren’t marketers 2. Their interests aren’t aligned with yours 3. They “don’t understand what it’s doing exactly”(*) (*) Haahr on RankBrain Remember:
  79. 79. Some SERP interaction as some kind of ranking factor My theory.
  80. 80. We sell custom cigar humidors. Our custom cigar humidors are handmade. If you’re thinking of buying a custom cigar humidor, please contact our custom cigar humidor specialists at custom.cigar.humidors@example.com Keyword stuffing: Doesn’t mean keyword density is the correct metric
  81. 81. Controversial Accepted
  82. 82. Controversial Accepted
  83. 83. Controversial Accepted Future
  84. 84. Controversial Accepted Future More intent measurement?
  85. 85. Controversial Accepted Future More intent measurement? [“Needs met” is already the primary metric]
  86. 86. Controversial Accepted Future More intent measurement? Measure task completion?
  87. 87. Controversial Accepted Future More intent measurement? Measure task completion? Consider conversion rate?
  88. 88. So, given all of this, ALL we need to do is optimize for UX then?
  89. 89. Um. No. Evidence later
  90. 90. Google makes mistakes
  91. 91. Haahr talked about evaluating algorithms on “next page click rate”
  92. 92. Adding white space gamed that metric
  93. 93. It’s also really hard, and people are confusing
  94. 94. “There are so many experiments that we’ve done that have very misleading live metrics that you really need to dig into”
  95. 95. “We had a long-running experiment that swapped results two and four”
  96. 96. “My guess is more people would scroll down and click on position three”
  97. 97. “...actually more people click on [position] one”
  98. 98. https://youtu.be/eGSGZMI4Z_I?t=1024
  99. 99. It is easy to think you have shown something, but find it full of confounding details when you dig into the individual results We have seen the same thing with our testing
  100. 100. We just need to know that UX is aligned with Google’s goals But we don’t need the futurist perspectives or the tinfoil hat conspiracy theories for my purposes here
  101. 101. We just need to know that UX is aligned with Google’s goals 1. Panda (ML-trained on UX signals) 2. Quant and qual measurement of algo changes using UX metrics
  102. 102. We should be building SEO hypotheses from UX fundamentals
  103. 103. If we’re talking UX, we’re talking CRO: Conversion Rate Optimization
  104. 104. Most organisations treat them entirely separately SEO CRO Search Engine Optimization Conversion Rate Optimization
  105. 105. But in truth there is a lot of overlap SEO CRO
  106. 106. While some SEO changes don’t impact CRO SEO Meta info - invisible to UX CRO
  107. 107. And some CRO changes don’t impact SEO SEO Non-indexed pagesCRO
  108. 108. An awful lot of changes affect both
  109. 109. “How do we know the tests won’t hurt conversion rate?”
  110. 110. Never: “how do we know our CRO tests aren’t hurting rankings?”
  111. 111. Anyway. You ought to worry about BOTH
  112. 112. When CRO messes up SEO
  113. 113. When CRO messes up SEO -25%!
  114. 114. I wrote a post at moz.com about how big an impact this can have
  115. 115. You think this is what happens as you roll out winning CRO tests
  116. 116. But you don’t realise that some of them are bad for search
  117. 117. What if there was a way to GET the best of both?
  118. 118. You can do better if you only roll out the true winners
  119. 119. SEO split testing is template basedOur solution: full funnel testing
  120. 120. Conversion rate optimization focuses on converting more of your existing traffic (bottom of the funnel) Conversion Rate Optimization
  121. 121. Conversion rate optimization focuses on converting more of your existing traffic (bottom of the funnel) Search engine optimization focuses on getting additional traffic to your website (top of funnel) Conversion Rate Optimization Search Engine Optimization
  122. 122. Conversion rate optimization focuses on converting more of your existing traffic (bottom of the funnel) Search engine optimization focuses on getting additional traffic to your website (top of funnel) Full funnel testing combines these approaches to do both at the same time resulting in higher ROI from testing Conversion Rate Optimization Search Engine Optimization Full Funnel Testing
  123. 123. How does it work?
  124. 124. SEO split testing is template basedHere’s how it works - on an example website Home Animals Cats Dogs Unicorns Badgers
  125. 125. CatsCats We want to test two templates for our animals pages
  126. 126. Cats Dogs Unicorns Badgers CRO test - different users see different templates on the same pages 1
  127. 127. Cats Dogs Unicorns Badgers CRO test - different users see different templates on the same pages 1 2 Cats BadgersDogs Unicorns
  128. 128. Cats Badgers SEO test - different users see the same templates on DIFFERENT pages 1 2 Cats Badgers Cats Badgers
  129. 129. Cats Badgers Unicorns Dogs SEO test - different users see the same templates on DIFFERENT pages Cats Badgers Unicorns Dogs Cats Badgers Unicorns Dogs 1 2
  130. 130. The site looks like this during the test Home Animals Cats Dogs Countries Scotland England Ireland WalesUnicorns Badgers
  131. 131. Animals A B A B A B A B Animals A B A B SEO testingCRO testing vs.
  132. 132. Google’s view Animals Cats Dogs Unicorns Badgers AB BA
  133. 133. User view Animals Cats Dogs Unicorns Badgers AB BA ?????
  134. 134. Animals Cats Dogs Unicorns Badgers AB BA Landing page established What do unicorns eat
  135. 135. SEO test complete Animals Cats Dogs Unicorns Badgers AB BA What do unicorns eat
  136. 136. Cookied AA AA What do unicorns eat Animals Cats Dogs Unicorns Badgers
  137. 137. Second page view Animals Cats Dogs Unicorns Badgers AA AA What do unicorns eat
  138. 138. Third page view Animals Cats Dogs Unicorns Badgers AA AA What do unicorns eat
  139. 139. Sidenote: This just makes better SEO tests anyway BTW By avoiding an inconsistent user experience as they browse the site
  140. 140. In summary
  141. 141. UX is a ranking factor?
  142. 142. Not everyone agrees Controversial Accepted
  143. 143. We just need to know that UX is aligned with Google’s goals But we don’t need the futurist perspectives or the tinfoil hat conspiracy theories for my purposes here
  144. 144. We just need to know that UX is aligned with Google’s goals 1. Panda (ML-trained on UX signals) 2. Quant and qual measurement of algo changes using UX metrics
  145. 145. To know that we should be building SEO hypotheses from UX fundamentals
  146. 146. BUT: then we affect users and search
  147. 147. SEO split testing is template basedWhich is why I believe the future of SEO is testing
  148. 148. Thank you Will Critchlow, CEO Distilled @willcritchlow With help, ideas, slides and more from @craigbradford, @dom_woodman and @tomanthonyseo
  149. 149. Questions: @willcritchlow
  150. 150. Image credits ● Hornet ● Beach ● Paul Haahr ● Google ● Smile ● Pug ● Chrome ● Tinfoil hat ● Broken plate ● Confused monkey ● Unicyclist ● Horse ● Phone ● Devil cat ● Coloured smoke ● Boston
  • saraplus

    Jun. 12, 2019

We know that Google wants to align their results with the websites that make searchers happy. We expect to see more and more ranking factors that align with this - whether based on actual usage data, machine-learned equivalents, or simply from evaluating algorithm changes based on their impacts on usage. But on our journey to that point, it's important to realize that changes made to improve conversion rate or UX could harm search performance, and vice versa. How do we navigate this complexity? That's what Will is going to be covering.

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