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5 User Engagement Metrics that Influence Your Search Rankings [+ Tips to Improve Them]

how to improve search rankings

how to improve search rankings

Every business owner wants to improve their website search ranking. And if you’re here, I’m pretty sure you want it too. The HubSpot’s research shows that 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results. No wonder there is such a hassle around it!

However, it is somewhat challenging to get listed at the top of a search result page. Search engines have plenty of factors created to provide users only with the most relevant search results, which naturally leads to websites optimization struggles. So, what do we do? The only way to be successful here is the efficient and structured approach to your SEO strategy.

It is known that user engagement is the most credible way to rank high in the organic search. It is happening when a customer realizes the value of your product/service. In fact, all you have to do is to listen to your customers. They always have something to tell you, with their behavior on your website.

Good content alone will not get you higher rankings. That is why you have to keep track of the core user engagement metrics. Understanding that will help you see what works and what doesn’t.

Let’s have a closer look at those metrics and how they influence your search ranking.

#1. Time on site

This is the measurement of how long people stay on your website’s page. Google collects the data about user behavior; the more time users spend on your site, the higher it will appear in the search engine ranking.

Google’s Rank Brain algorithm uses machine learning to provide the most relevant results for search engine queries. Specifically, it’s looking at CTR (click-through rate), dwell time (time spent on site) and bounce rate. Therefore, you need to optimize your website accordingly to achieve the best outcomes.

How to improve the dwell time on your website?

#2. Direct traffic

When visitors come to your website directly rather than using other communication channels, it’s a sign of loyalty and trust in the brand. The most recent studies state direct traffic as the most influential factor for Google. Well, at least we all can agree that it is the most credible one.

Google appreciate sites that attract direct visitors because that means you are delivering a great excellent experience and valuable content. Therefore, this turns into a higher search ranking.

To be fair, direct traffic isn’t considered a “traditional SEO ranking factor,” for it has more to do with conventional marketing activities which are focused on building a strong brand image. Hence, to increase the direct traffic, you might consider extending the tools of your current marketing strategy.

How to improve the direct visits rate for your website?

#3. Returning visitors

This user engagement metric is mainly linked with direct traffic and imply to the people who are already familiar with your website or previously have done business with you. The more returning visitors your site has, the higher its direct traffic will be. Which leads to the higher ranking in the search results page. It is hard to define the ideal percentage of return visitors, but the HubSpot recommends targeting for at least 15%.

It is generally claimed that acquiring a new customer requires more time and costs than retaining an existing one. That is why it is essential to keep the client return to your website and make sure he is satisfied with what you offer.

How to increase the percentage of returning visitors?

#4. Bounce rate

Bounce rate is the percentage of users who navigate away from your website after viewing just one page. This happens when the site didn’t provide much value or was difficult to navigate. Google monitors the time people spend on your site, how often they visit it and where are they going to after. If the data says your customer left too early, this could be a sign that it wasn’t worthy enough for him to stay longer. Which results in low ranking on the search results page.

However, the bounce rate varies by industry and type of content. For example, technology sites may have a high bounce rate because visitors often need only one piece of information. I’m sure you’re curious, what a reasonable bounce rate is? Here are some statistics from KISSmetrics for you to identify the case:

A good understanding of bounce rate will help you to define your SEO strategy, so don’t ignore these numbers.

How to reduce the bounce rate on your website?

#5. Comments and shares

Social signals reveal how people are engaging with your content and site. This mostly refers to social share counts, likes, comments, retweets, and pins, which indicate that customers are interacting with your brand.

From the infographics below you can see that comments and shares are at the top of the most important metrics for measuring customer engagement.

How social signals impact search ranking has been misinterpreted for a long time.

The study shows it’s not the number of social engagements that Google consider while ranking results, it’s the organic CTR those social signals generate. Click-through rate is recognized as a significant factor that influences Google’s search ranking.

Consequently, it is not about gathering social shares. It is about engaging!

How to increase comments and shares about your business?


User engagement metrics are changing the way you should approach your digital marketing strategy. Since they are determined by observing your customer’s behavior, concentrate on analyzing it. Only then you can truly understand the importance of metrics.

Although, when you optimize the website, it’s not the number game you should care for, it’s about providing the best experience for your customers and outperforming competitors.

Hold your hand on the pulse of marketing trends, hear your customers and track the analytics. The smart combination of those will get you to the top of search results page in a naturally and improve the conversions and sales.

User engagement metrics are in the target of machine learning, knowing how to use them will not only improve your search ranking result but also increase conversions and sales.

Volodymyr is an experienced startupper and founder of NEWOLDSTAMP. Since 2014, he has been successfully bootstrapping NEWOLDSTAMP into the profitable startup. Volodymyr has 10+ years of huge experience in marketing, growth hacking, and management as part of several Ukrainian corporations. Launching NEWOLDSTAMP and going global made him the first class expert in the marketing sphere and a perfect leader to his team. The shift from offline marketing to digital changed Volodymyr’s life roadmap and pushed him to create NEWOLDSTAMP to help other entrepreneurs and professionals to achieve their goals.

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