As a marketer, I am a firm believer in transparency and integrity. I will tell you exactly how I do what I do and why.
Even if you looked around on this site you will notice when it comes to SEO (Search Engine Optimization) we focus on the engagement analytics, and we share this without hesitation.
We encourage our clients to share tips, tricks, and even steps to home repair as well. Let’s be honest, it’s probably already on YouTube (and yes you should absolutely create videos). I know I can find videos on how to replace a toilet but that doesn’t mean I am going to do it.
Creating useful content on a consistent basis will improve engagement analytics. Before I explain how to let me explain what engagement analytics are.
Your site should be added to Google Analytics and Google Search Console. From these two free tools, you can determine how well your website does on the internet. There are tons of analytics that you can review and utilize to determine what is working and what is not.
Engagement Analytics point to how website visitors (your audience) behave on your site. They include:
- Bounce Rate – how many people leave your site after visiting one page versus visiting a second page, measured in percentage. A bounce rate of 60% is considered good. This means 4 out of 10 visitors will navigate to a second page on your site when visiting. A good bounce rate will vary depending on your industry and your site layout/purpose.
- Pages Per Session – how many pages visitors to your site view per visit.
- Average Session Duration – how much time visitors spend on your site per session.
- Returning Visitors – visitors that return to your site at a later time.
- Social Shares – shares of your content to social media.
- Comments – Comments on blog posts and other content.
Why Are Engagement Analytics Important?
The short answer is Google determines your website’s relevancy by engagement analytics. For example, if Google sees that your content is shared often this is a signal to Google that your content is relevant, and people find it useful.
This is why having Social Share icons on your website is so important.
The longer answer:
When you search Google for something Google returns results. You likely skim the results to look for one that matches your intended question. Google tries to determine your intent when you use its search engine.
If you click on a result and then close that page quickly, without interacting or engaging (think reading, clicking, commenting, sharing) then that sends a signal to Google that the result you clicked on was not relevant to your search query. This is not the desired result for your website.
Now you click on a second result and it matches what you intended to search for. You spend 10 minutes on the site, click a few links and share some of the content.
Google views the second site as relevant to your search query.
If this happens repeatedly Google will move the second site up in the search results while pushing the first site down in the results.
This is done using an algorithm. The Google Core Algorithm changes all the time, multiple times per day. For this reason, it is important to pay attention to what Google suggests regarding content on its search engine.
Whenever Google releases a broad core update or another major update to their algorithm site owners and SEOs panic that their search rankings and traffic will drop. As long as you’re following Google’s guidelines you should never have a problem with rankings and traffic after a major update.
Google also uses Machine Learning (RankBrain) to do a lot of the work.
If you’re creating content that draws people in, is relevant to what you do and how you do it and encourages your audience to engage with it then Google views your site as relevant. If you continue to do this then overtime Google also views you as the authority and expert on the subject.
What Are Other SEOs and Marketers Focused On?
There are lots of theories in the SEO world. A lot of SEOs focus a lot of energy and time on backlinks. A lot of SEOs focus all their energy towards on-page SEO (this is the technical part of SEO).
The best SEOs will tell you to focus on content, usually in the form of a blog. Good content that is high quality and relevant to the website is going to naturally increase engagement. It will also encourage backlinks naturally.
I am not suggesting you ignore backlinks and technical SEO. You absolutely should put some energy into these things. Google views backlinks (of high quality) as an indication that you are an authority/expert. Without on-page SEO Google will probably not index your site (at least not properly).
I don’t hear or read about a lot of SEOs working to improve engagement metrics. All aspects of SEO ultimately work to drive engagement.
Look at it this way. I’ve been saying for many years now that SSL certificates are a ranking factor. Google has over 200 ranking factors. Some are common knowledge, some are not. SSL is one that is not known for sure but there are indications that it does impact rank.
Let’s look at it from your audience’s perspective. If you use Google Chrome or Firefox, you now receive a warning if a site is not secured with an SSL certificate. This will undoubtedly scare some website visitors off and decrease your engagement. Yet a high percentage of business websites do not have an SSL certificate.
As of the 3rd quarter of 2018 51.8% of the one million most visited websites worldwide now actively redirect to HTTPS. But that means 48.2% do not.
The number of unsecured websites increases as you go below the world’s most visited websites.
If Google believes having a secured site is important and is warning you when a website is not, then it’s safe to say their audience (searchers) is important to them.
Google owns somewhere between 80 and 90% of all search traffic. They’re not alone in the search engine world though. They want to continue to hold that mark because they make a ton of money with advertising. If they don’t return the results a searcher is expecting, then the searcher might go somewhere else. That’s why engagement matters to Google.
That’s why focusing on engagement is our focus on client websites.