SEO is about attracting visitors through organic search. Improving search ranking leads to greater exposure and greater chance for users to engage with your digital experience. Once a user comes, and engages with your digital experience the game changes to one of usability (and conversion, but that’s another discussion). User engagement takes place when your visitors and active users start to realize value in the content you’ve delivered.
SEO ranking signals can be prioritized in terms of the ‘impact’ they have to increase your search visibility. User engagement metrics are likely not as influential as other ranking signal, like links back to your domain, but if you’re investing in SEO you can’t neglect usability. Here are 2 key user engagement metrics that influence SEO and that you need to pay close attention to.
User Engagement Impacts SEO
The first two, and arguably most important user engagement metrics to consider are dwell time (or Avg. Time on Page) & Bounce Rate. Dwell time measures how long a user stays engaged with your content. Bounce rate measures how quickly users disengage from your digital experience.
It makes sense that if users are more engaged (longer dwell time), it will be a positive ranking signal for search engines. It also makes sense that if a user visits from an organic search result and immediately returns to Google to continue their search, it creates a negative signal.
Google’s algorithm monitors and remembers how users interact with your content when they’ve come from an organic search. If your content routinely keeps users for longer, and longer times, the search results will start to adjust in favor of your content. Keep in mind that this happens on a page-by-page basis. The performance of individual pages will contribute to the overall picture that Google is building of your domain as a whole.
Here’s the key takeaway: The longer people stay on your website pages, the higher your pages will appear in the search engine rankings over time.
Here are some things that you should be looking at in order to improve dwell time (Avg. Time on Page) and lower the Bounce Rate:
- Load the page in 2 seconds or less. Google wants fast loading digital experiences and are active in making the web a fast-loading experience — hence Google AMP pages. Google is also now warning mobile publishers that slow-loading pages will see red.
- Make your pages easy to scan and understand at a glance. Users will make quick decisions about whether or not the page is what they are looking for. You can have great search result visibility. The metadata can be well written and very attractive to the user, but after the click, if the content experience fails to meet the user’s expectation they will very quickly leave. Deliver content that is laser-focused on what visitors are expecting.
Tip: How you want users to engage with and respond to your digital experience is likely perfectly aligned with what Google wants to see. Is that the experience you’re delivering?
Main Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash