The SEO community has debated the influence of interaction metrics, such as bounce rate and time on site, on search rankings for some time. Dwell time (an amalgamation of bounce rate and time on site) has been a hot topic subject, with much debate over the degree of influence that it has over rankings.
It is only relatively recently that we have started to see firm indications that both of these factors are playing a substantive role in cementing a site’s organic ranking position. While it has always been apparent that Google places a heavy consideration into click-through-rate (CTR) in its paid search algorithm, recent signs suggest that it now has added value in the organic search algorithm also, as relevant results drive more clicks.
If this is now in fact relevant, then metrics such as Meta data will progressively become more significant within organic search campaigns again.
The correlation between interaction metrics and SERP performance.
When we start to deconstruct the search rankings, we start to see a clear and growing correlation between the average time spent on site (in seconds) and the ultimate ranking position of that site.
The graph above, provided by our in-house tool Roadmap, clearly indicates that those sites that can retain user interest for longer, benefit from greater prominence in search results.
We also see a similar correlation when we begin to look at bounce rates.
Here we see an equally strong correlation in that, with a couple of exceptions, those sites with lower bounce rates benefit from more prominent rankings.
Crucially, this means that SEO campaigns must expand to consider a host of user-centric factors that may have previously fallen under the remit of completely different divisions of the business. This includes elements such as proposition, price point, user experience and technical performance (for example, site load speed).
Keeping users engaged is critical.
This new algorithmic approach changes the game for SEO, and puts new prominence on search marketing.
With interaction factors in mind, it is critical that you optimise your content for user intent. Take the time to understand who your audience is and what challenges they face. This allows you to ensure that your content offers a purpose and answers the visitor’s search query from the get go.
Ensure your site’s navigation has a high level of clarity so the user will always find what they want from the outset. If you’re unsure how user friendly the design of your website is, we suggest using a heatmap to gain an insight into how your visitors are interacting with your site.
It is also critical that you manage your visitor’s expectations. This could be anything from ensuring your site loads quickly and efficiently on any device, through to having a clear conversion path (such as a direct landing page or a conversion funnel).
With interaction metrics now playing a powerful role in search rankings, putting these key factors at the forefront of your search strategy can establish your brand as the authority in your respective niche. If your site performs highly on both CTR and dwell times, your brand will most likely reap the rewards.
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