The first time you visit a website, it is all eyes and ears. Users are checking their emails, navigating to their computers, searching the web, and making their first real attempt at entering into a website. For most, it’s a big eye-opener. Many of us first see something new once and then never again, so it is important to be constantly scanning for new things and information.
The biggest question that comes up when people ask us about this is: How do we discover and gather new information? The answer is a combination of a variety of factors.
To start, there are two big types of web sites: search-oriented sites and list-oriented sites. Users first view a search-oriented site for answers to their problems, like finding a car. Then they begin to search the web for answers to their questions, like finding information on a sports team. And then they continue to seek out and discover all sorts of content on lists-oriented sites, like the news, a concert, or a restaurant.
The most important factors in determining the site where users first arrived have nothing to do with the content of those sites. The point is that the first time a user went to a webpage, they first viewed a search-oriented site. That makes sense, because the first time a user goes to a webpage, they haven’t already found all the answers to their problems.
The first thing to note is that although search engines are always looking for relevant search terms and content, they still don’t consider a page where users first arrived to be relevant. For example, the first time a user goes to a page that contains a link to another page, but the link is to a page that contains nothing of interest to the user, it does not matter how relevant the other page might be.
As you know by now, the links in Google are based on what pages the user has looked first at. So if a user has visited that first page they will be redirected to the first page that contains the link, which is probably a better page than the one they are currently looking at, because Google will have seen there was a previous user looking at that page.
The link to a page that actually contains a page that has no interest to you is called a story, and it is a website for a reason. If the user has done a search on the page without an interest to the page it will be redirected to that page.
A good example of this kind of link is Google Maps on your home page. Google has a tool that allows them to “read” the URL of a page to see if they have visited the page before. If they have visited the page before then the Google website will have that link and so will Google Maps, and if it has no link to it, then it doesn’t matter.
One of the things that we found Google do to help avoid this kind of link-laundering is to filter out the pages that are already visited by the user. That way if any of those pages are visited by the user, it will still appear on the search results screen as it did before, but it will be shown with a star of a question mark instead of the URL.
If nothing else, using the same search terms as we did earlier on our website you can find pages of your own that are on this list.