4 User Engagement Metrics to Track for SEO
Let’s say you wanted to spend your vacation in Bali. You heard it was a good place to vacation, but you wanted to know for sure, so you searched “Bali vacation” on Google.
The first result you saw may have been an article about the top 10 reasons to visit Bali. You clicked on it because you thought it would be perfect in helping you make a decision. The problem was that the article only gave general reasons, such as “It’s beautiful.” or “It’s warm.” Those are nice and all, but not exactly what you’re looking for. You click back.
The second link in the search results was an article about the best things to do in Bali. You click on that, and you were immediately drawn to the images of snorkeling, lying on white sandy beaches, and swimming with dolphins. As you read, you can feel excitement build and you end up not only going through the entire site for the next hour, but you go back to the site later to show your wife.
In a couple of weeks, you want to go back to the site that had all of the great information to book one of the excursions, but you can’t remember the name. You search Google for the same exact phrase you did the first time, and guess what? The website came up first instead of second like it did when you first found it.
This is a good example of how user engagement can affect SEO.
Time on Site
Google Analytics provides information to its users on how long visitors stay on a site. They have this information for a reason — they pay attention to it and so should you.
When people spend a lot of time on a site, it signals to Google that it has good information. When a site seems to have good information, Google naturally wants to show it to more people.
If people aren’t spending a good amount of time, more than a minute on your site on average, you should start to consider why. It could be that visitors aren’t finding what they need or you’re marketing to the wrong audience.
It’s important to hone in on what your audience wants online, and provide that to them. Optimize your website according to the content you’re delivering to the people you want to attract.
If people return to a website, it’s because they have found something valuable on it. That’s at least what Google believes. That’s why it’s imperative to provide your website visitors with a reason to come back for more.
You can encourage people to come back to your site in various ways:
- Email follow up and newsletters are very effective tools.
- Blogging consistently with exceptional content that people care about.
- Use remarketing ads to people who have already visited to remind them of what your website has to offer.
You may have to get creative in encouraging people to come back to your site, but that effort will be well worth it when you see your rankings increase because of the return visits.
Social Media Activity
Google has not indicated it uses social media as a ranking factor, but it also hasn’t identified what their ranking factors are specifically. Many people believe that if a link is shared on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest) multiple times, it shows Google it is valuable to people. That information may affect where that link is positioned on search engine results pages.
Even if social media isn’t a ranking factor for Google, getting a link shared multiple times will drive traffic to your site. Those people will then spend time on your site, and many will return to your site, which Google will consider in their algorithm. Again, with the right promotion to the right audience, those people could spend considerable amounts of time on your site indicating it is valuable.
In addition to time spent on a site, return visits, and social media activity, local businesses should pay attention to the engagement with local search engine results. This has to do with the Google My Business listing.
Google pays attention to the number of clicks to call and clicks for directions for a business. This indicates a conversion because they are reaching out to the business. The more conversions a business receives, the more Google wants to show it to others who may also be interested in contacting the business.
It’s all about what other people do when it comes to how Google ranks website pages. It makes a lot of sense. They want to give their users what they will like, and if other people like something, they figure the chances are high other people will too.
So, that’s your goal. You need to figure out what makes your website visitors happy. When you make the people who go to your website happy, Google will show it to more of their users to also make them happy.
To use user engagement as a way to improve SEO, pay attention to how long people stay on your website, how many people return to your site, your social media activity, and your local listing. As you improve your user engagement, Google will likely increase your site’s rankings so more people will know about what you have to offer.
For more information on how you can improve your site’s SEO, grab a copy of our Ultimate SEO Checklist.
Phil is Founder and COO of Main Street ROI. Phil leads the company’s operations and is primary creator of Main Street ROI’s marketing training programs. He is an expert in search engine marketing, website analytics, and sales funnel optimization. Phil’s marketing thought leadership has been published on Forbes.com, Inc.com, MSN.com, and many other major business media outlets.
Phil earned his Master of Engineering Management degree from Thayer School of Engineering and Tuck School of Business and his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Engineering degrees from Dartmouth College. While attending Dartmouth, Phil started every game on the varsity football team as the defensive safety.