The Algorithm Update
Google is once again using a new broad core algorithm. This significantly impacted different countries, categories, and sites. This is being referred to as the Google Medic Update. Google uses three factors to determine the trust placed on websites and brands. These are expertise, authority, and trust (EAT). This is to provide the best possible experience for the users.
Some sites have done incredibly well, while others crashed and burned. One of the most critical actions the site owners need to take is obtaining objective feedback from the users. This must be unbiased third parties unfamiliar with the site or the business. Once real people provide insight into the content, experience, writers, website, and ads, the website can be improved.
When a user study is conducted to understand how real users react to a site, all bases must be covered. Figuring out which questions to ask regarding how users feel about the core aspects of the website can be difficult. In 2011, 23 questions were created for this purpose. The questions are excellent when performing the first user study regarding the updates for Google’s core algorithms. Some of these questions include:
- Can the information the article presented be trusted?
- Was enough quality control performed regarding the content?
- Would you feel comfortable entering your credit card information at the site?
- Does the article offer original content, reporting, research, and analysis?
- Is the article shallow or written by an expert who understands the topic?
- Does the page offer value in comparison to the other search results?
These questions provide answers from real users. This reveals which improvements or changes need to be made for your site. This is the same information Google is using algorithms and EAT to obtain. Despite the time required and tedious nature, this is one of the most important steps you can take. You can test numerous topics, including:
- Writers, authors and review boards
- User intent
- Page quality
- Advertising and monetization
- The needs met for ratings
- Site reputation
Learning from the Results
The questions you ask should be tailored to your niche. You can use open-ended and multiple-choice questions. You can obtain session recordings for the users by using specific testing platforms. You need to watch the reactions of the users, listen to what they say, and see how they navigate your page or site.
The best way to locate potential issues on your site is a combination of viewing the recorded sessions, qualitative feedback, and quantitative feedback. This will enable you to create a remediation plan to address the deeper problems. There will always be more than one or two factors.
Selecting Your Audience
You can select the demographic information for your target audiences, such as gender, household income, web expertise, and age. You can ask them to read specific articles so you can ask predetermined questions. This information is similar to what is being used by the Google Medic Update. This includes:
- Is the content original or readily available somewhere else on the internet?
- How did the users feel about updates or original publication dates?
- Did the user find the information trustworthy?
- Were the writers, founders, and brand recognized?
- Did the user believe an expert wrote the information?
The original 23 questions were asked for an objective, third-party feedback. The results showed which improvements were necessary. The results were as follows.
Reactions and Trust: One participant laughed when asked if she trusted an article. Laughter is bad for any YMYL site.
Balance: Numerous participants stated balance is essential. A good example is covering both risks and benefits for particular topics in YMYL articles.
Credibility and Sources: Thee participants felt citations and sources were important. Wikipedia led to immediate skepticism.
Author Expertise: The participants believed the background of the authors was critical.
Triggers: Specific words were triggers for some of the participants. Their reactions revealed their feeling about the topic.
Published Dates: Most participants assumed an update meant the article had been reviewed again. Many were interested in the original and updated dates. They had methods for locating the original publication date.
Advertising: One participant counted the number of advertisements on the page. She did not find them distracting. Aggressive advertising can negatively impact the algorithm of the site.
Social Proof: One participant believed numerous comments meant the website was popular.
Credibility: The participants were impressed by a medical review board with different kinds of nutritionists and physicians. Seeing their credentials quickly was not required by the participants.
Blogs: Blogs about medical or health topics had a negative stigma for some of the participants.
Affiliate Marketing: This type of marketing must have value, or the users believed the site was trying to sell something.
Site Design: Many users said the sites all looked the same. Branding and design are essential, although they are not usually the focus of the website.
Quality: Most of the participants said although there was original content, a lot of it could be found elsewhere on the internet. Nobody believed the content was completely original. A tough niche must have unique ideas, content, and perspective.
Accolades and Awards: The users wanted more information or a link for all awards. They required proof.
Content Value: The users stated the value of the content was average in comparison to the competition.
Brand Recognition: All of the users were unfamiliar with the brand, site, etc. This shows the importance of branding for the core audience.
Medical Review Board: The participants approved of articles a medical review board had reviewed.
UX Barriers: The video clips of the participants on the site revealed several errors. This showed the development team had some work to do.
User Testing Platforms
All of the above are samples regarding what a user study can reveal. The first consideration is the platform. The functionality of the platform is critical. Some sites have an (NDA) non-disclosure agreement for the participants. This decreases the odds of your test being publicly shared. You may not want to revel you are conducting a study regarding quality, trust, advertising, etc.
You need to choose the right criteria for your target audience. This will link the participants with the site and brand to help focus the audience. Functionality can be provided through multiple-choice and open-ended questions. Using different test flows enables you to test more than one type of customer experience and path. You need to base the pricing of the platform on quality as opposed to the actual price.
There is no limit as to what you can test. You can check for numerous aspects, including usability, the quality of the content, site design, features, and website trust. Looking into more than one platform is essential. The features and user panels among the options do vary. Google has stated on numerous occasions; they consider many different factors for broad core ranking updates. This includes user experience, content quality, and advertising.
One of the best possible ways of analyzing your site is through objective user testing. This is accomplished by having third-parties going through the features, content, credibility, etc. of your website. This is an extremely beneficial process to help any company affected by the Google algorithm update. It is challenging to obtain qualitative feedback using any other method. Even if the core updates have not impacted you, the results will be beneficial for your site.