What is User Engagement?
Engagement is something that a lot of people don’t realize is a big SEO ranking factor.
Most business owners focus on things like on-page SEO or backlinks (and both of those important), but engagement has become a very important piece of the SEO puzzle.
In the past it was easy for people to game the system in order to trick Google into ranking a website when that site didn’t actually offer good content.
To combat this, Google came up with something called RankBrain, which is basically their artificial intelligence. It monitors how users engage with your website and it is now a big ranking factor in how Google ranks websites in their search results.
As a result, Google is not simply going off of what is on your website – they’re considering how real live people are engaging with your website.
In essence then, user engagement is when a visitor lands on your website and then begins clicking through to the other pages on your site. The visitor is actively learning more about your business and whatever services or products you offer.
User engagement is the creation of an emotional connection between a customer and your brand.
A highly engaged customer will buy more, promote you more, and demonstrate more loyalty to your brand.
How is Engagement Measured?
User engagement is measured with tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console. You can use those tools to monitor some of the most important engagement metrics:
Click Through Rate (CTR)
This is the percentage of visitors that are clicking on that page from the search results
Bounce rate is when somebody clicks on a link, goes to your website, they look at one page and then they leave your website. If they leave under those conditions, that is considered a bounce.
Clearly you want a lower bounce rate, which means you need to ensure that they are clicking on other internal links to go to other pages deeper within your website.
Time on Site
As a result of lowering your bounce rate and encouraging further exploration of your website, you’ll also consequently increase your visitor’s time on site (average session duration), and this is another measure of user engagement.
You want website visitors to stay on your website as long as possible. The longer they’re on your site, the more they get familiar with your brand.
Another metric to keep an eye on is your Page Views, which shows you how many pages that each user viewed during a session.
Again, you want to try to increase this metric; you want them to look at more pages on your website during a visit. You want them to look at more pages on your site.
How often do you have returning visitors? The more return visitors you have likely conveys how loyal people are or that you have either a high quality of content on your website, or that you’re creating a lot of content.
Your conversions is probably one of the most important metrics to monitor, and you can likely expect that by improving all of the other metrics listed above, your conversions will also improve. For example, the lower the bounce rate, likely the higher the conversion rate will be.
Similarly, the longer the time on site, the more pages they visit, and the more return visitors you have, the higher conversions you’re probably going to have.
There are many different types of conversions, and you’ll have to figure out which ones make most sense for you. For example, a conversion could be filling out your contact page, or maybe it’s giving you a call, downloading a free checklist, etc.
Why You Need User Engagement
People Become More Loyal When They Engage More
Think about your own behavior online. When you spend more time on a website or you go back often, you become more loyal to that person or brand because you start trusting them. And as the website owner, you’ll notice more return visitors and higher conversions.
Learn What Your Audience Wants
As a result of regularly monitoring engagement metrics, you will also have the benefit of learning what your visitors want, and what type of content they keep returning to access.
For example, is there a particular topic they respond best to? Is there a specific format of content that they seem to react most positively to? Perhaps you’ll notice a trend of greater engagement with video rather than written copy.
That’s valuable information to have in order to monitor what sort of content you should be creating in the future.
Engagement is a Top 3 Ranking Factor
How actively engaged people are on your site matters because the more engaged they are, the more Google interprets those signals as your website having good content, which will help you rank more easily.
Quite simply put, you’re not only building trust with your visitors, you’re also building trust with Google that you have a good website and you’re providing good content.