Not surprisingly Google has unvieled with its newest update RankBrain that a UX matters when it comes to sending users to a site and ranking on their search engine. While obvious the implications are hard to reconcile.
Under the new system one had to not only showcase identity and offerings as sought out by the user but also provide a compelling content experience that shows interest and that the experience provided is as expected:
The challenge with delivering on these fronts is that one cannot present a user experience that does not conform to the current however defined positive user experience.
Not surprisingly we currently had indicators like bounce rate which show how a page performs based on a users experience. The problem with bounce rate and indicators like it is that they can be rather easily tricked.
Users who a given a simple and page with limited options above the fold other than a single button will often click or scroll. Either typically would mean the user did not bounce.
The problem however is that knowing this developers will simply adapt their page design to beat the system. Not bad if you only care about traffic. The problem is if you care the most about the Users actual experience or their meeting a particular goal.
My suspicion is that engines like google will increasingly rely on user input goals and page information to guide how they asses user experience. KPI’s for user experience will eventually go beyond return rates, time on site and bounce rates however these will always plan an important role.