Search engines are being flooded with millions of new content pieces every day. There is no shortage of content.
As this trend continues to grow, the importance will shift to how good that content really is, and how happy users are with it. That’s why user engagement metrics are the next big thing in SEO.
Here are 6 user engagement metrics that we think matter the most in 2019.
1. Organic click-through rate (CTR)
For any query, Google displays thousands and thousands of results for a user to click on. What helps her determine which one to click and which ones to ignore?
While ranking on the first page of Google is often the most important goal for an SEO professional, the job does not end there. Encouraging clicks after being ranked on the first page is an equally important task.
Otherwise, what’s the point of just sitting on the first page if no one clicks on your result?
This is commonly known as organic click-through rate or CTR, and it is an engagement metric that matters to both the search engine and the website owner.
For the website owner, it matters because a low organic CTR will mean low traffic. For search engines, a low organic CTR may indicate that the web page does not appeal to searchers and, hence, should be demoted in the SERPs.
You can improve the organic CTR by optimising your content title, URL, and meta description. All of them should encourage users to click through to your website. Once you gain credibility and authority, increasing organic CTR becomes easier.
For more information on what your organic CTR is and what you can do to improve, log in to your Google Search Console account. Look for pages with a high number of impressions and a low number of clicks, and try to optimise them.
2. Dwell time
How long does a user — after clicking on the SERP result — stay on your web page?
Dwell time measures that.
To understand dwell time, try to look at it from the search engine’s perspective.
A search engine analyses millions of results and selects only a handful of them to be displayed on the first page. If a user clicks on one of those results and quits in a matter of seconds, what does it signify?
It indicates that the result the search engine selected wasn’t as effective. If it keeps happening, the search engine will eventually have to demote that result and replace it with some other web page.
That’s why dwell time is important. Once you get a user from the SERP, you need to hold their attention for as long as possible.
How do you do that?
You do that with a fast-loading web page, an interesting headline, an attention-grabbing introduction, and an easy-to-navigate and pleasing website design.
3. Bounce rate
Bounce rate is important because not only it helps with warming up random website visitors and increasing your credibility, it also allows Google to monitor where users navigate to from the web page they land on.
In case you don’t know, bounce rate measures how many people leave your website without clicking on any other link. A low bounce rate represents more clicks and, therefore, a higher engagement rate.
Different industries and types of websites have different bounce rates, so there is no standard to compare yours with. Here are the average bounce rates by industry if you still need some point of reference.
If you get a very high bounce rate, it’s time to rethink your content and marketing strategy.
4. Time on site
Like bounce rate, there is no standard comparison point for ‘time on site’. Therefore, we recommend tracking trends over time.
‘Time on site’, as the name suggests, measures average session duration — how long users spend on your website.
This indicates the quality of your content, website navigation, the loading speed of your website, and website structure. Since it encompasses so many things, it is a good user engagement metric to keep an eye on.
It’s not — strictly speaking — a user engagement rate, but measuring it helps significantly in increasing user engagement.
By tracking acquisitions, you can learn which sources produce the most traffic for you, e.g., organic search, social media, referral, direct, or paid search.
By figuring out where most of your audience is coming from, you can make necessary changes to cater to them more effectively.
6. Retention rate
Websites are leaky buckets, and you won’t be able to retain all your visitors. Retention rate measures how many you do manage to retain successfully.
For some, it is the biggest user engagement metric to track, as it helps identify if the steps you take are working or not.
There is no specific average retention rate that you should target. Different industries and types of audiences will have different percentages.
The best way to track the retention rate is to track its trends over time. If the trend is positive, you’re doing good. If not, rethink a few strategies and work on producing higher quality content to increase the overall retention rate.
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