Search engine optimization (SEO) takes time. You build a site and hope that it will climb the rankings to become one of the most popular search results when people are looking for a product or service like yours
Some people get frustrated that they don’t immediately see the results they want. This can even make them jump ship from an SEO strategy that is working and would eventually put them at the top ranking.
How do you know whether your SEO strategy is working when it doesn’t immediately put you at the top of the rankings? One way is to look at the website behavior metrics of your site visitors. If the SEO metrics look good, then your SEO strategy has put you on the right track to climb to the top ranks and stay there. Here are the numbers to check.
Google’s business is giving people the best search results. How do they know which ones are the best? One way is with the click-through rate (CTR). This is the measurement of how often people will choose your website when it’s presented in a list of search results. As a number, it’s the number of times someone clicks on your website divided by the number of times your website appears in the search results, usually presented as a percentage.
However, in SEO terms, it’s a little more complicated. From decades of analyzing SERPs (search engine results pages), Google knows that the CTR depends heavily on your position in the SERPs. For example, the top-ranked search result typically has a CTR of 25-30%, while the second-ranked position typically has a CTR of around 15%. If Google notices a top-ranked search result is underperforming while the second-ranked result is overperforming, Google may move the one up and the other down in the future.
Time on Site
But the search engines have learned that CTR isn’t the only measure of a site’s usefulness. People might click on a site and realize it’s not at all what they thought, or that it doesn’t include the vital data they’re looking for. These people are going to quickly close or back out of the site.
To account for this, search engines use the length of time that visitors spend on your site as another measure of the quality of your site and its fitness for its ranking. The longer people spend on your site, the better you’re going to rank.
So you need to make sure you’re doing everything you can to increase the time spent on site. Part of this is providing a good user experience with sensible design. You can also increase time on site by providing interactive opportunities, such as media to watch and other engaging elements on the site
Time on site proves to the search engines that the clicked-on page is valuable. But pages visited proves something even more important: that your site has more valuable content. This is a big deal.
Having one quality page on your site is good, and it makes the search engines want to keep promoting that page. But if you have multiple quality pages, the search engines might want to promote all your pages, especially for related searches. There are two metrics to look at here: bounce rate and pages per visit. Bounce rate is what percentage of visitors leave your site without visiting another page. Pages per visit is the average number of pages that visitors view before leaving.
You want to have the bounce rate low, ideally under 40%, and the pages per visit high. Do this by making sure visitors can see related content they might be interested in, either by having related content images on the page or by building internal links into your content. Of course, this means that you have to have enough quality related content to link to, which can take time to accomplish.
What about Social Media?
Another type of user behavior you might be wondering about is social media engagement. Tagging your company or sharing your content is a user behavior that seems like it should improve your ranking. The answer is complicated.
Currently, the belief is that users sharing your content on social media doesn’t directly improve your ranking. However, there is a high correlation between good social media engagement and high search ranking, so there are likely indirect connections.
Get a Quality Site That Inspires Users
Your website is the key to performing well on these important metrics. A website that is well-built with engaging content, easy navigation, and pleasant design will not only perform well today, but will continue to perform well, despite algorithm changes and the fickle will of the searching public.