It is easy for a business owner to look at website traffic and assume that a high volume of traffic equals user engagement. However, evidence shows us that many times the traffic numbers are inflated due to bots and spammers visiting the site. Traffic numbers are important, but user engagement is more that someone just landing on the page. They need to take an active interest in our content. To get a better picture of how many people are actually engaging, you can examine the metrics that measure length of time on page, pages per visit, bounce rates and of course, actual conversions. Ultimately, if users are not engaging with your content, then you are not succeeding at your marketing.
Are Visitors Engaging?
Search Engine Land does a good job breaking down what the metrics tell us about visitors and engagement. Bounce rates show how many people landed on your page and left. In other words, they didn't explore your site further. Pages per visit show how many pages someone visits before leaving the site. You can also measure how much time someone spends on a page and set up goals to reach in Google Analytics to track this information. Part of the equation is different for every site and page. While staying on some pages longer is good, you may prefer that your visitors view several pages instead. In order to keep visitors coming back, it helps to update your pages often and link from new pages back to earlier pages on the same topic.
It is hard to say whether these statistics change your ranking in Google's algorithm; however interest in your site from Google searchers is bound to move it up. Sites that attract and actively engage their visitors signal that people are satisfied with their visits. User experience is something that Google is trying to monitor and tie to ranking. In the end, what really matters is how well your site is supporting your sales goals. If you can improve your lead generation and conversion rates, then your sales will also improve.
How to Improve Engagement
How readable is your site? Depending on target audience, readability can be affected by language, style and font size. For instance, if you are trying to engage senior adults, you may need to have a plainer and larger-sized font. For teenagers, more slang is probably a good idea. You can run tests for readability to see what works best for your site.
Linking pages on the same topic will give more depth for your visitors to explore. It also signals Google that these pages are related. This clue is good for real people and Google and will help keep people on your site longer.
Your page headlines should indicate what is on the page. This tip seems to be a no brainer, but so many headlines are misleading. People that arrive on a page that says it is what they want and are disappointed will leave immediately, raising your bounce rate.
People scan online content instead of reading it. By breaking it up with sub-headers, bullet points, white space and images, you will create more interest and retain visitors longer.