Ranking Higher by Satisfying Intent Quicker + 5 More SEO Tips

By Cyrus Shepard
Updated: April 9th, 2024

Originally published as part of the SEO Tips Newsletter. Sign up free.

If there’s one thing we learned from Google’s antitrust trial last year and its extensive use of click data for rankings, it’s that user satisfaction is really Google’s #1 ranking factor.

Google says to chase the user, not the algorithm.

We had no idea how true this is.

To oversimplify: Google watches what users click on and search for, then uses that data to rank more satisfying documents higher.

One thing I’ve noticed working as a Google Quality Rater and examining hundreds of sites hit by recent Google Core Updates is simply how lazy many websites are at satisfying user intent.

Don’t make the user do extra work.

Here’s an experiment I tried last year on a post that ranked, but not great, for how long your title tags should be. The post had lots of science and original content, but the answer was buried several paragraphs down the page. I was making the user do extra work!

So, I added a couple of paragraphs and put the answer in the very first sentence. Folks who wanted a quick answer could get it, and other readers who wanted to explore the data could stick around.

​Was this a good idea? Would users bounce faster if I gave them the answer quicker?

It doesn’t really matter because traffic nearly tripled shortly after that change. (It’s not a high-traffic page, but it’s a solid worker, and imagine this at scale.)

​There are other examples.

Let’s say you want to rank for “20 Best Restaurants In Chicago“. Does your reader really want to scroll all the way through your 4000-word article to learn all the best restaurants?

Instead, try offering a summary at the top so the user can get a quick answer, and keep the long-form text for those who want a deeper dive.

Try this on a few pages and see what happens to your rankings. If you see a positive pattern, start thinking about doing this at scale.

Remember, everything is an experiment.

5 Top SEO Tips This Week

These are the best SEO resources I’ve seen recently. Hope you find them useful.

Why Ranch-Style SEO Is Your Future-Proof Content Strategy

The Skyscraper technique is dead! Not really, but its natural heir may be Ranch-Style SEO, a way of structuring your content, as explained by Bernard Huang.

10 SEO A/B tests that delivered over 10% more traffic + a bonus 50% winner

You know we love a good SEO test. The folks at SearchPilot run A LOT of them. Here, Craig Bradford reveals some of their top-performing A/B tests. The lessons may spark some good ideas for you to try yourself.

EEAT Your Soup – Quality Evaluations in SEO by Cindy Krum

Were we just talking about how Google uses click and engagement data in rankings? This deep dive perspective from Cindy Krum explains how E-E-A-T ties into all this and how to shift your thinking about what could really drive rankings for your website.

Shifting Signals: How GSC’s Inbound Links Report Can Reveal Third-Party URLs Being Canonicalized To Your Own

Did you know that “link inversion” means that sometimes your pages can inherit the link signals of third-party web pages you don’t even own? (Or, in some cases, the opposite can happen.) Here, Glenn Gabe shows how to use Search Console to track down link inversion issues. It’s not an easy process, but it’s helpful if you deal with a lot of duplicate content across the web.

It’s not you – it’s Google Search Console

Google Search Console is the source of SEO truth! Except when it isn’t. If you rely on Search Console for data—and you probably should—Gianna Brachetti-Truskawa explains all the pitfalls and what to watch out for in the data.

The MozCon lineup is 🔥

Looking forward to seeing all my SEOold + new friends in Seattle this June. I’ll be on stage helping to emcee the event.

If you’re even thinking about making the trip, the folks at Moz gave us some discount offers for $200 off in-person tickets and 50% off for Livestream tickets.

Hope to see you there!

SEO Newsletters We Love

Growth Memo

Kevin Indig has a degree in business and uses it to write one of the smartest SEO newsletters on the planet. Great for high-level strategies and long-term thinking.

Eli’s Newsletter

Last week, Eli Schwartz wrote about Google’s upcoming expansion of SGE. Posts like this are worth subscribing to the newsletter alone.

Best of luck with your SEO!

Why You Should Trust Us On SEO

Zyppy started optimizing websites for Google traffic in 2009, led by Cyrus Shepard, a former leader at SEO authority Moz. We run dozens of SEO experiments per year, so we know the data. Our knowledge allows us craft successful SEO strategies for startups to Fortune 500 companies, and our mission extends to educating the public on SEO best practices. Learn more about Zyppy SEO.

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