3 uncommon ways to boost your organic traffic with Google Analytics engagement metrics
By Lisa Hirst Carnes | November 2017
Search engine optimization is a lot like a puzzle. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy working in the field; it’s challenging and constantly changing. That being said, there are several pretty constant best practices that if you follow, will most likely help improve your organic visibility. However, since Google’s algorithm is so ever-evolving, much of what causes one site to outrank another site is overlooked.
Most digital marketers know the common SEO factors: title tags, metadata, on-page content, backlinks, site speed and having a site free of technical errors. But what else can influence your site in search? What other factors come into play?
This post will show some of the less popular factors you should consider as part of your SEO initiatives.
Several years ago, everything was about content. Remember, “Content is King?” You couldn’t visit a digital marketing blog or attend a conference without seeing that at least two times.
While content is still critical – that’s still the main reason we visit a website – in today’s landscape, I would argue that “satisfying” content is King and engagement signals are Queen.
“to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
This is Google’s mission statement. If Google’s main purpose with search is to provide accessible and useful information, engagement metrics most likely influence organic visibility, too.
So, what are Google Analytics engagement metrics?
Google Analytics metrics – such as time of site and bounce rate – can indicate if a visitor is engaged with your site, but there are other metrics that can prove to Google that your site deserves high rankings.
Let’s look at an example: If I’m searching for content on “putting together a plan for content marketing” and I click on the first result I see, but that result takes me to a SaaS page with a “buy now” CTA, I’ll most likely click "back" right away because I’m not looking for that type of information. This is called pogo sticking.
Google’s all about understanding context and the searcher’s intent at that moment and pogo sticking behavior indicates that the clicked results did not offer the right information at the right time.
In other words, a valuable experience translates to a long click or good session duration and may lead to higher rankings for that keyword. To create this experience, really focus on what your user would search and write content that answers to exactly that.
Of course, creating a good user experience will also help improve long clicks. Make your article scannable formatting them in a way that keeps the reader’s attention and entices them to keep reading your content. Use images and headings to keep your pages from looking like boring walls of text.
Organic Click-Thru Rates
Simply put, click-thru rate is the number of clicks you receive divided by the number of impressions. Click-thru rates are usually associated with paid campaigns like AdWords but they should be carefully reviewed for your organic traffic, too.
A high click-thru rate indicates that your brand is a credible source to Google because people associate your brand with the keyword that was used in the search. Your brand is seen as the trusted source.
There are some easy ways to improve your CTR, but your title tag and description are the best places to start.'
Start by identifying what website pages have low CTRs. You can find this data by navigating to Search Analytics in Google Search Console.
Look at the pages with low CTRs. Can titles or descriptions be improved? Determine what keywords will help drive traffic to your site.
Note that emotional triggers and titles that provoke curiosity often help improve CTRs. That said, don’t make your titles sound like click bait.
In the end, aim to balance increasing CTR with improving session duration.
While it may seem counterintuitive that direct traffic can actually help your SEO, it does.
Direct traffic shows a level of online authority and trust. Since Google strives to rank the most authoritative pages, your direct traffic can positively affect your SEO efforts by building your domain authority.
So, by increasing your direct traffic, you’ll most likely be building your domain authority.
One easy way to build direct traffic is through remarketing. Not only will remarketing campaigns drive paid traffic, they can also build awareness and as more people become familiar with your brand, your direct traffic will most likely increase.
Rather than putting all the emphasis on drawing in more and more traffic, focus on engaging traffic. If you do so successfully, Google will rank you higher and the traffic will come on its own.
As always, reach out to us if you're looking to improve your digital engagement efforts!