This is the first of a series of articles in which we will address the topic of user engagement. In this one, we will define that term and then talk about the different types of user engagement and its impact on SEO.
It is well known that Google is the most popular search engine in the world. This is due, among other things, to the speed with which its algorithm responds to the billions of searches that are performed there daily.
Naturally, this company is very interested in keeping its advantaged position among search engines given its implied income from advertising and other services. Hence, Google is committed to periodically update such algorithm in order to be increasingly able to offer more accurate search results and, therefore, allow a better user experience.
To do this, Google and all search engines must prioritize the positioning of those websites that are preferred by users when they input specific search terms, giving those websites a better place in the SERPS than those that are less attractive to users. In this frame of reference is located the subject of user engagement.
What is user engagement?
Fundamentally, user engagement refers to the different ways in which a user interacts with a website, versus simply navigating on it or “rebound”, which means leaving such website immediately to visit one that does provide them with the information they need, in the terms that they need it.
User engagement types
Click-Through Rate (CTR)
It refers to the percentage of times that users clicked to access a certain SERP from the total number of times it was displayed. In order to be able to review this metric, it is necessary to have a Google Search Console account linked to the website with respect to which such information is required.
Now, for a website to be positioned among Google’s first search results it must be SEO-optimized. This includes, among other factors, that such website must have good content which includes relevant and ranked titles, and meta descriptions.
A metric that helps determine if a website met the user’s search needs is Dwell Time, which can be defined as the period during which a user stays on a website which they accessed from a SERP page until such user returns to said SERP.
The higher the dwell time, the more effective the website will be in responding to the search term entered by the user, and this will have an effect on the positioning of the said website in the SERPs.
User engagement derived from other websites
On-site SEO is fundamental for user engagement but it is not its only source. In effect, user engagement of great value can come from other websites that, for example, direct traffic or links to yours (backlinks) or share your content on social media.
Speaking of social-media sharing, it is necessary to highlight that it does not affect SEO per se, but it does increase website traffic, which can result in more links and conversions.
In the next article, we will talk about which engagement metrics should be necessarily tracked.