Most SEOs know how important users coming to your site is, but not just visiting – taking action. From conversions to just staying on your site and absorbing your content. These engagements are what influence search engines into ‘thinking’ that your site is an authoritative source and could help it climb further up the rankings!
Remember search engines have one goal in mind and that is providing the best answers to users’ queries!
Before we begin, we need to know what user engagement is. The simplest explanation is any form of action a visitor takes on any one of your platforms – from your website or blog or even social media – it is going from a search engine to a source of information in the hope that it answers their question!
What are the main forms of user engagement?
- Clickthrough Rate (CTR)
- Actions from outside sources
- Dwell time
1. Clickthrough Rate (CTR)
This is one of those terms that you would hear when you first delve into Digital Marketing and it is one of the most reliable. The CTR is considered the entry-level engagement that is required for further engagement – they start on the SERP (Search Engine results page) and click through to your site in hopes for an answer.
But the humble CTR can be so much more! Using Google Search Console you can delve deeper into seeing which terms have the highest CTR or even more obscure phrases that are leading to your site and this can help you write more targeted content that can engage your users (new or existing) even further!
2. Actions from outside sources
Talking about engagement – you instantly think that it needs to be on your site – but it can be from a myriad of sources and this could be your most valuable engagement! This is because these external sources are:
- linking to your website content
- driving valuable traffic to your website
- sharing your content on platforms to increase your exposure
- encouraging users to engage in different ways & creating a community!
Inbound links to your site are always a top priority in SEO and remains so year on year! For example, a potential user could see your piece of content as authoritative enough to either share it or reference it for their article – thus resulting in further links from other websites in your niche.
Social media – although not officially a ranking factor – does drive valuable traffic to your site and encourages more links, more traffic and more conversions! Sharing, liking, commenting are all forms of engagement that can benefit your overall digital presence!
3. Dwell Time
A phrase that seems to be making the rounds since the March 2019 update. Dwell time is the length of time a person spends looking at a page after they have clicked on a link in the SERPs but before clicking back to the SERPs! How long they linger on that page/site is a great measurement for search engines in gauging ‘effectiveness’ of your page in answering a query.
Dwell time or average time on page, shows that websites (and search engines) are becoming more human (user) centric – whereby we are able to gauge how useful a source is to determine their ranks. So rather than focusing on what search engines, web admins or developers want – focus on what the user wants – quite simply a source that directly answers their query with no frills or fuss!
Why is User Engagement Important in SEO?
Although some of these factors are not outright ranking factors, they are still important for SEO. They improve your site visibility but also send traffic to your site and help create a more trustworthy brand.
Factors like Dwell time are definitely considered a ranking factor especially since the March 2019 update, having people spend time on your site is something that the search engines are starting to look at. So it goes back to what we stated previously – don’t make websites for robots, search engines and web admins – make websites for your users who are HUMAN!
Ways to Increase User Engagement
- Speed up your site: In 2019 if your site is still working on an old version of PHP (they are v7 just so you know!) and loading flash – we need to have a serious conversation! Making sure your site is fast & usable on all devices is something of a game changer for every website owner!
- Go back to basics in Technical SEO: Your content may be amazing but if your user cannot move freely through your website without encountering Error 404 Not Found, then there is a problem! Always remember when you move pages / blogs etc to add redirects (either 301s or 302s) to each one so the user can find the relevant content with ease!
- Different Strokes for Different Folks! People consume various pieces of content differently. I, for one, enjoy reading long form content, where others may prefer videos or graphically beautiful infographics. Test each one and see what works for your brand & users!
- Clean up your Nav. This is especially important for websites with 100s of pages and subsections. Get a family member or friend to go through your site with fresh eyes and ask them to find something specific – do they have trouble going through the site? Start at your top navigation & move down to make a more simple yet effective navigation & user journey
- Don’t forget about Internal Linking. Reiterating what was a topic at the April BrightonSEO (go back & read if you missed that one), internal linking is crucial – not only does it promote a user journey through your website but it can also lead to an increase in conversions & increase in rankings – it also helps in suggesting related topics to your users (kind of what I did up there!)
- Have a strong Call-to-Action. What is the point in having a great website but you don’t actually ask your user to do anything? On every (or most) page try have a CTA, either to get in touch, download an eBook, subscribe to your newsletter etc, this will get users into your funnel without forcing them!
Creating a website that creates a community is difficult but follow the above tactics & you should be on your way. But we know it can be tough so that is why we created Digital Discourse – these free downloads are pack full of ideas on website optimisation, SEO and social media. Click here to download your copy today or get in touch with our experts to chat about User Engagement!