The goal of Google and other search engines is to provide users with the best results possible. They put themselves in the position of the user who wants to learn more about a topic, have a question answered, or find a product to purchase. For the search engine, best practices mean returning sites that answer the user’s questions and deliver real content value to the searcher.
With that objective in mind, Google has been tweaking its ranking algorithm to drive quality sites higher in page rankings while pushing down lower quality sites. Major determinants of quality are content driven engagement measures and other signs of a positive user experience. Specifically, they look at how often a user clicks through to the site from search rankings, how long they stay on the site, and how deep do they go in terms of pages viewed. All of these actions are a function of both content and visual design quality. Conversely, if Google detects that users click to a site and quickly bounce back to the search rankings, a site can be penalized for delivering a poor payoff to the user.
As a content marketer, there are many things you can do to help increase user engagement, and in turn, help increase your search engine page rank. Here are 5 actionable SEO tips you can put to use.
1. Provide a quick payoff/response to search queries to increase clickthroughs.
The first goal is to get someone to click on the link that appears when Google returns a search result. That generally means writing a strong meta tag description. Meta description tags, while no longer really important to search engine rankings, are extremely important in getting potential web visitors to click through to your site. These short passages are a marketer’s chance to talk to searchers and to let them know exactly whether the given page contains the information they’re looking for.A good meta description should have some relevant keywords and also create a compelling description that a searcher will want to click. Direct relevance to the page payoff is of critical importance.
2. Use visual content along with text to increase time on page.
Once you have someone on your site, you need to draw them in and engage them with compelling content. The goal is to drive up the user’s time on page and pages per session metrics to help improve your ranking. Visual content is no longer a nice option, it’s become the main course. With so many users coming via mobile channels, it is imperative to be bold and image-based as users scroll through your site. The popularity of channels like Instagram and Pinterest point to the appetite for well design visual content as an engagement tool.
3. Answer critical questions to reduce bounce rate.
This one is critical, as high bounce rate will certainly penalize your site in search engine ranking. A few things can lead a new visitor to quickly leave your site. Low quality content, bad design and a slow loading site can all be culprits. However, the biggest reason may be because the payoff to the search fails to satisfy the user’s original need. Recall that most searchers are trying to answer question and if they don’t see quality content providing those answers they will literally bounce away to find another site that can help them. It is important to really understanding your customers and what their key questions will be for your company or product category. These answers should be presented in content that should be clear, unambiguous and direct. Don’t make the user play detective, which leads us to the next point.
4. Use web design principles to make your content easy to find and improve user experience.
A positive user experience is important criteria for the Google ranking algorithm. That means mobile responsiveness, a clean and straightforward navigation, and bold visuals that tell the user how the content is organized. The goal of user experience should be to help the visitor find what they are looking for as quickly as possible and with a minimum number of clicks.
5. Provide long-tail keyword density.
Blogging is a tactic to help increase traffic, engagement, and click throughs. It is a great SEO tactic because you’re putting fresh and relevant content on your site on a regular basis. At least 2-3 times per week is a recommended cadence for refreshing a blog as Google rewards recently updated content. The posts can help answer user’s questions from searchers and get more specific than your static web pages. Many searchers ask long-form questions from search engines. For example, instead of typing in “grass seed” they ask “What is the best kind of grass seed for a shady lawn in the northeast?” This may correspond to a product or service you sell but perhaps not the main thrust of your business. If so, a blog post on the topic will give the search engine a reason to put your site at the top for that long tail question.
The Bottom Line
How users interact with your site gives Google signals to how valuable it is for potential customers are ranks accordingly. By following these content based tips you can see your site increase on page engagement and rise up the search engine rankings.