Engagement for SEO

Engagement for SEOSummary of Want to Win the SEO Game?  

  1. What are top considerations for SEO focus according to SEOs and Marketers?
  2. Which of the top considerations for SEOs and Marketers are relevant to SEO in 2018?
  3. One tactic that will help you beat your competition with SEO.
  4. How is engagement measured by Google?
  5. How do you improve engagement for SEO?
  6. Other ways to improve engagement for Google.

I get asked by business owners all the time what they should be focusing on for SEO.  There are a lot of considerations to this answer and there’s no doubt you will get a lot of different answers.  Some of those answers will be completely wrong.  Others will be a part of what you should be focusing on for your SEO strategy but not the most important piece.  Here’s a list of the responses other business owners have been given:

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Some of these answers are great.  Some are important but not as important.  Some are completely wrong.  Here’s a quick explanation of each:

  • Link Building-this SEO strategy is still a very important component to SEO. It has also evolved from its earlier days.  It takes a lot more strategy, planning, execution and time to do it right. Link farms are gone, and black hat link building will likely cost you Google Rankings in a big way.
  • Web Page Title-Yes, this is important but probably not as important as engagement
  • Circle Link Building-this is a link building tactic that I would consider grey hat. I don’t think it impacts sites negative or positively.  Essentially a network of sites places a non-reciprocal link to another site.  The next site then links to another the same way.  This continues and forms a circle of links.  These links look spammy and while I cannot find proof that they will hurt I also see no evidence that they help.
  • PBN (Private Blog Networks)-Some SEO Solutions Providers swear by this type of link building. PBNs are groups of blogs and websites that have built some Google credibility (allegedly).  The sites then place links to other sites usually for a price.  Google has said PBNs are not allowed but as of this blog post there does not appear to be any penalties related to it.  This is not a practice my SEO agency uses as I do believe somewhere down the road Google will do what they did with Link Farms.  Site owners beware.
  • Blogging/Content-if you know me then you know blogging and content creation is a critical component of my SEO strategy for clients, and my business. Yes, make sure you are creating content.  End of story.
  • Videos-While Google cannot yet determine the content of a video there is related meta information that will help with Google crawling it. Video also greatly improves engagement.  If you read the title this blog post, then you know engagement is the focus here.  Think about it.  Google bought and owns YouTube, a video platform.  Don’t you think video will be an important part of SEO?
  • AdWords-AdWords is a very powerful digital advertising platform owned by Google. Some believe that using it contributes to your organic results.  This has yet to be proven and Google says it does not.
  • Google My Business-Yes, absolutely set this up. It is part of any successful Local SEO plan.  Not setting this up and maintaining is a huge mistake.  This adds your listing to Google Maps and the Google Local Pack.  Read my blog post 6 Ways to Optimize Your Google My Business Page for more information.
  • Yelp-Yelp is important to SEO in a roundabout way. It does add a link back to your site.  The link is a no-follow link so officially it won’t help your link building efforts, but Google does like to see some no-follow links.  Having a profile on Yelp should also increase traffic.  Who doesn’t want more traffic?
  • Social Media-Google’s official stance as of this blog post is that Social Media does not help with SEO rankings. Let’s think about it though.  This blog is about engagement.  Engagement happens on Social Media.  Social Media also drives traffic to websites.  Social sharing is a form of engagement.  Links to your website from social media help with link building, even if they are no-follow.  Plus, have you ever Googled a business and seen their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram pages in the results?
  • SSL-In July of 2018 Google Chrome will display a Not Secured message for ANY website that does not have an SSL certificate. Google Chrome is the most used browser today.  Seeing this message may send potential clients running.  SSL is a ranking factor but not as big as mobile or relevant content right now.

Improve Search Results by Improving Engagement

Want to Win SEO?  Engage!

After reviewing the above list, you should now know (if you didn’t already) that content is a game changer.  Whenever I onboard a new client I tell them they need an active blog.  Adding content to your site for the purpose of winning SEO is not enough.

Take some time and look at Google Analytics.  Look at some of the data Google analyzes.

  • Bounce Rate-How many users leave the website after visiting a single page versus visiting another page on the site measured in a percentage.
  • Duration Per Session-How long is the site visitor staying on the page
  • Pages per Session-How many pages are the visitors viewing during a session (visit to the site)

These three pieces of data are indicators of engagement. This means Google cares about engagement and uses it for analysis.

RankBrain is Google’s Machine Learning portion of their algorithm.  RankBrain attempts to determine a searchers intent when displaying search results in the Google Search Results Page.  RankBrain uses engagement to help it determine if a result is relevant to the searchers intent.  Google continues to utilize RankBrain more over time.

How is Engagement Measured by Google? How do I Improve My Engagement

Google measures engagement by factoring in the following:

  • Bounce Rate-Bounce Rates vary by industry but generally speaking a bounce rate of 60% or lower is considered good. There are a few things you can do to improve bounce rate.
    • Create relevant, timely and interesting content. I know it’s not easy for some industries, but it can be done.  Most people find SEO to be boring or confusing, but I do my best to simplify it for non-professionals.  The more information you can provide the better.  Relevant means make sure the title of your blog matches the content of it.  Use tools like Google Trends and Buzz Sumo to find ideas that are timely.
    • Keep pop-ups and distractions to a minimum. I never put more than one pop up on any page.  The more distractions there are the more likely they will leave the page.  Google is also strongly discouraging pop-ups that take over the page.
    • Add a video related to your content. You don’t need a full production.  A video recorded from your phone works fine in most cases.
    • Link to internal resources. This serves multiple purposes for SEO but for this article, it helps keep people on your site longer and increases pages per session.
  • Duration per Session-Google measures how long a visitor is on your page and site. The longer they’re on your site the better it looks for you.  This indicates to Google that the visitor finds your content to be relevant and of value.  The bullet points above will also contribute to a better duration per session.
  • Pages per Session-a lower bounce rate naturally correlates to a higher page(s) per session rate. You can increase this further by ensuring all of your content is well thought out and there are relevant internal links to other pages and/or blogs on your site.
  • Social Shares-Share your content and encourage others to share it. It’s OK.  Send it in an email, share it to all platforms that will help.  The more shares the better.   This will increase the visits to your site and indirectly tells Google that people are engaging with your content.
  • Comments-Comments can be the bane of any website owner’s existence but can also be of great value. Comments encourage spam but there are ways to counter the spam.  Legitimate comments are another indication that people find your content to be of value to them.  One important tip here.  Make sure you respond to ALL comments.  Just like reviews, it’s important to acknowledge the comments. This is often overlooked by site owners. Responding to all comments encourages even more engagement.
  • Natural Internal Links-linking to other relevant content on your site is a great way for your audience to get more information related to what they came to your site for in the first place. Google also sees internal links as a part of link building.  Internal links also make it easier for Google to crawl your site.

        More Ways to Increase Engagement on Your Website

  • Consistency-Adding a blog post once every 6 months is not consistent. You need to have a plan.  Have a content calendar prepared for each quarter.  Make sure that the calendar is fluid as topics may come up during the quarter.  For example, one of my clients is a roofing contractor.  If a hurricane is forecasted for Connecticut then a blog post about preparing your home for a hurricane becomes relevant and can address people’s concerns.
  • Avoid Tech Talk/Jargon-don’t tech talk people to death. Talk to your audience as if they know nothing about what you do.  Some of them may know and that’s great but chances are if they are on your site they are looking for some information.
  • Answer Questions-Answering Questions is a great way to drive engagement. If you know of direct questions that need answers, then provide the answers in a blog or FAQ.  Use bullet points to highlight answers.  This may even get your blog post into the knowledge graph on Google.

Google wants to serve up the best responses possible to a searchers inquiry.  Using the steps above will help your site visitors to engage more.  More engagement means that Google will recognize your content as being the most relevant answer to searchers inquiries.  Your search rankings will improve.  Higher search rankings mean more people see your site.  I think you can see where this is going.

I hope you find this helpful.  If you know of a way that improves engagement on your site please share.  We love comments (See what I did there?)

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