What’s the point of being #1 on Google if visitors leave immediately or don’t engage with your website? That can hurt your rankings if you don’t make make informed decisions on your content development and information architecture.
There are hundreds of factors that determine where your website will rank on any given search result. It’s not just about links or anchor texts anymore, and it’s certainly not about manipulation. How people engage with your website and your brand is becoming a major factor in how Google sees your website, and engagement metrics can give insight into how well your website works.
SEO engagement metrics help you better understand how users are using your website, and how effective it is at gaining user trust. This blog post will discuss some of the metrics in Google Analytics that you should consider to improve to give your website a better shot at getting closer to the top, and staying there!
Click Through Rate
The Click Through Rate (CTR) is an engagement metric that is used and found all throughout many of Google’s products, including Analytics, Search Console (Formerly Webmaster Tools), and AdWords. Of course you’ll find this metric in more places than that too.
This engagement metric is defined by the amount of times a user has clicked on your website’s listing in a search result, and is then divided by the amount of times your website appeared in a result (impression). So clicks/impressions=CTR.
The higher your CTR, the more effective your snippet is when it appears in a search result. This could be because of a variety of reasons such as:
- A well written and enticing meta description and title tag that accurately describes the content that meets the users’ expectations.
- Additional schema.org or Rich Snippets markup to provide a more dynamic search result experience.
- An urgent message, special, or call-to-action that piques the user’s interest.
So what is a good CTR rate?
Clearly, the higher the better. However, don’t expect too many double digit CTRs unless you’re in an extremely narrow niche or you’ve found the golden keyword phrase. To me, anything around 1% is good. You’re doing great if you’re above that. If you’re in the double digits, you’re probably the only one being found for your niche keyword and service. This is an important engagement metric that shows Google that your search result snippets are optimized, or not.
How can you increase your CTR?
- Write excellent meta descriptions and title tags that accurately describe the content. You have roughly 50 characters for the title tag, and about 156 characters in the meta description to grab the user’s interest and get them to click. Use these opportunities to grab their attention and provide a call-to-action.
- Write a great opening paragraph. Nothing is going to make a user spend more time on your website than having high-quality content, and a great opening paragraph to grab readers can keep them on your site longer.
- Let’s face, not everyone is a reader. But images and pictures can help keep your content sticky and increase their time on site.
- Use schema.org markup or Rich Snippets to your website. Schema.org markup allows you to tell search engines more about specific information on your site. This can include information on products like pricing, availability, review ratings, SKUs or GTINs. If you’re writing a review of a product, there’s markup for that too. There’s a variety of Rich Snippets for all sorts of content.
- Add video to your page or post. With additional Rich Snippet markup, Google might display a poster image of that video in the search results. This too can drive clicks.
The Bounce Rate is the percentage of users who come to your site, and immediately leave. Think of it as the same as someone entering a store, realizing this business does not sell what they’re looking for, immediately turn around and exit through the door.
No matter how high your CTR is, your Bounce Rate tells a different story. This engagement metric means that users may not be finding the information they are looking for, and can tell almost immediately. The lower a bounce rate the better.
First, why would someone leave the site so quickly? Here’s a few reasons:
- Single page. If your domain or landing page is just one page, there’s not always a clear path on where to go or what to do. So they click back.
- Page does not have the information the user was looking for, or felt deceived.
- Improper implementation of analytics code.
The bounce rate can be a factor that tells Google how relevant the content is to the search result. If a user leaves immediately, poor value or irrelevant content could be the reason. You could see ratings slide if your bounce rate increases.
So what is a good Bounce Rate?
There is no set bounce rate percentage to shoot for. Just the lower the better. I’ve seen awesome websites that convert and perform well with a 60% bounce rate, and I’ve seen websites struggle with 30% bounce rates. The overall goal is to find out how to reduce it. Even a 5% reduction is something to cheer for.
How to Decrease Your Bounce Rate
After you’ve factored improper analytics implementation, the best way to reduce your bounce rate is to increase engagement. This could include:
- Contact or lead generation form. Have your users fill out a form for them to contact you. This could also include having them sign-up for a newsletter.
- Provide internal links within the content to lead them to another page.
- Include a video or gallery for them to view.
Essentially, no matter what you do, the goal is to keep them on the website and engage with it.
Pages Per Session
One way to reduce your bounce rate is to increase your Pages Per Session. This is a simple ratio of pageviews to sessions (Pages : Sessions). The higher the Pages Per Session value is, the more engagement users are having with your website. In most cases, the higher this value is the better.
However, having too high of a value could also be an indicator that it’s difficult to find the information a user is looking for on your website. Engagement metrics like this depend on your industry and your assigned goals you want your users to achieve.
How to Increase your Pages Per Session
To increase pages per session requires lots of great content, and a reason for a visitor to want to read more content. Here are some helpful tips:
- Use a related posts or page feature at the bottom of a page or blog post. This way a user might want to read more stories about the topic they are already reading about.
- Add a recent posts or page feature to your site. This could also be close to the bottom of your content. This can create a fear of missing out (FOMO) feeling in a user, making them feel that the need to read latest.
- If you’re an ecommerce store, add related products or up-sells. This is especially useful on Cart pages and as a feature to use after a customer adds a product to the cart.
- Create multi-step pages or posts. This works with listicles, posts that are a series of items with a paragraph or two about them, but each item is on a different page. Some users really despise this type traffic generation when a user is looking for a specific tidbit or piece of information. This includes me.
Average Session Duration
Google is timing the user sessions at your website. The longer users are at your website, there’s a possibility that you have a pretty engaging site, right?
This goes hand-in-hand with Bounce Rate and Pages Per Session, because it reflects how a user interacts with your website. Just like Pages Per Session, too high of a Average Session Duration could mean that it’s difficult for users to find the information they’re looking for. However, if your session duration is long, and your Pages Per Session is relatively low, that means users are very engaged with your content, and that’s a good thing.
How to Increase your Average Session Duration
If you use the tips found under Bounce Rates and Pages Per Session, you should also see an increase in Average Session Duration. However, here are some additional tips:
- Use visual aids. This can include video, images, or animated GIF images.
- Write lengthy, but highly valuable articles. If you can grab your reader early and never let them down, they’ll read every word you write. Invest in high quality content for your website.
- Encourage users to comment, vote in a poll, or even
The Conversion Rate is the percentage of users who visit your website and buy, generate a lead, sign-up for a service, and other similar conversions.
What’s a good conversion rate? Like Bounce Rates, there is no average value range, but they tend to stay in the low, single digit range. But a 1% conversion rate is good, but if you can get your site to perform at around 2-3%, you should have a working mint.
How do you increase your Conversion Rate?
- Cart Abandonment Marketing. If you user filled out the checkout information, but just didn’t click “complete purchase”, they have abandoned their cart. Consider a service that will email that user once or twice after a certain amount of time. Sometimes a user just forgot or got distracted to finish the purchase, started price matching, wasn’t sure about the service, among many reasons. Remind them about their cart and perhaps offer a coupon.
- Make your website secure, and prove it. Show icons with locks and even a badge from a security provider.
- Make your checkout or lead generation form process dead simple.
Engagement Metrics Conclusion
These four engagement metrics are not the only metrics you should be considering, and your industry will also determine what metrics you should be concerned about. However, they are very important values that help you better understand the effectiveness of your website to entice users to buy a product, sign-up for a service, generate a lead, or visit more pages on your website, if you’re a magazine or news site.
These SEO engagement metrics are simple to understand, and if you were reading closely, high-quality content that attracts users is almost always the solution. So it’s pretty clear.
Steve Scott is the CEO & Director of Training at the Tampa SEO Training Academy. He has taught SEO skills to people from around the world and currently offers his hands-on search engine optimization training workshops in Tampa to individuals and businesses of all sizes. Corporate SEO training classes and consulting are also available.