It’s showtime! Imagine you’re a comedian about to do your new act before a boisterous crowd. The first joke gets a few chuckles, but, joke after joke, the audience starts to lose interest. By the end, many have up and left. Either you need some new material or have to present it in a more engrossing way.
While performing in front of others might not be a writer’s first choice, the parallels between captivating an audience for both an entertainer and a writer are strong. Just as you would want to spark enthusiasm and keep it through to a show’s end, you want to ignite a reader’s curiosity and provide the information needed to keep them reading until a page’s end.
Enhance your subject matter expertise by employing the tools available to understand user intent, experience, and behavior that will help produce authoritative and appealing posts. Writing with engagement metrics in mind may effectively fulfill your audience’s needs with your published work (and encourage higher conversions for your site).
What is User Engagement?
“User engagement” in the search engine optimization (SEO) industry represents how long and in which ways visitors interact with a web page. This is measured by examining the elements implemented by on- and off-page optimization.
On-page engagement optimization is tracked through analytics for the time spent and the interactions a visitor has on a page. The most common user behavior flow is scrolling duration, link clicks, and video plays.
Off-page engagement optimization involves efforts that urge the sharing and visibility of your page. Link acquisition and social media posts or shares are examples of this.
How is Engagement Related to SEO?
Despite Google not explicitly disclosing user engagement metrics and if they directly impact organic search rankings, SEOs understand that monitoring user signals is part of the big picture in determining content quality.
Google’s Helpful Content Updates are part of an audience-first focus, and this continues to transform the way websites connect with visitors.
Engagement metrics can include but are not limited to:
- Bounce rate – the percentage of page visitors who land and leave without scrolling or clicking;
- Dwell time – the amount of time between a visitor clicking a link and returning to the search engine results page (SERP);
- Pages per session – the average number of pages on one site visitors view during a session;
- Average visit – the average amount of time one visitor spends on a site during a session;
- Returning visitors – visitors who have already visited a site previously
Engagement Metrics in GA4
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) measures most of your website data. For user engagement metrics, explore average engagement time, average session duration, average engagement time per session, average engagement sessions per user, and more in easy-to-understand charts, graphs, and lists with clickable elements that offer further insight.
Where to Find Engagement Metrics in GA4
To see only organic search data, you must apply the filter for session default channel group equals organic search.
To find the previously-mentioned metrics, go to Reports > Engagement > Overview for average engagement time, engaged sessions per user, average engagement time per session, users per minute, top pages and screens, views and event counts, user activity over time, and user stickiness (how often users return), to name a few. Within the engagement section in the GA4 menu, look closely at events, conversions, pages and screens, and landing page details.
Adding filters, comparing relevant date ranges, creating custom reports, and utilizing Google Search Console data supply additional details about user behavior.
What is Engaging Content?
The average modern person is adept at searching and knowing what they want. Setting your post apart from the multitude of sites with the same topic is a challenging feat. Shortcuts, such as producing AI-heavy content or ignoring the intent of a keyword, might yield fast results but are unsustainable, as they lack human-centric direction and are less likely to result in engagement and conversion. Engaging content keeps a reader interested and feeds into the helpful content objective.
How can you compete? Put yourself in a reader’s shoes to consider how you would want to engage with the page you are creating. Reflect on your favorite sites and why you continue to stick around. Brainstorm the best ways to include those components.
Types of Engagement
Engagement metrics are only one side of the coin. First, you must develop ways to keep users interacting with your page. Optimizing for analytics-based metrics isn’t the same for every post; many are not directly related to SEO.
To match reader-first best practices, engaging elements should be relevant, straightforward, and add to the comprehensiveness of the page topic. Any of the following added (appropriately) to an article is capable of enriching user interest and experience:
- Calls to action (CTAs);
- Clickable buttons such as accordions;
- FAQs or other relevant content;
- Infographics, charts, or graphs;
- Interactive tools;
- Social attributes;
- Practical images;
Implementing diverse elements on your page might also enhance your listing in the search results. A mix of images, videos, and text is presented for many queries, potentially attracting the eye of the searcher and leading to stronger clickthrough rates. With these elements visible in the search results, readers choose what method of information delivery suits them.
Suggestions to Increase Engagement
A heat mapping tool, such as Hotjar or Crazy Egg, can help you understand user behavior on a page. Analyzing interactions may illuminate issues and lead to updates that include a preferable page layout, longer reading time, clickable parts, or the opportunity for interaction and shares.
Few visitors will want to read a giant wall of text, which is why breaking up copy into smaller chunks, adding headings and subheadings, relevant images and videos, clickable buttons, and the ability to add and read comments or reviews is beneficial for both the site and user.
Visual, engaging content keeps readers interested for longer. Taking the time to design (or source) a unique infographic, graph/chart, or video with distinct information could add to the shareability and facilitate backlinks. Call-to-action phrases, buttons, and downloadable materials, such as PDFs, can trigger emotional responses and provide value to readers.
People also like to join in conversations and share opinions. This is why comments, reviews, and social shares can boost overall user engagement, page visibility, or brand awareness.
It’s a challenge to stand out on the internet. Focusing on comprehensive, user-first content that satisfies the search query and anticipates the subsequent demands from your reader is a powerful aspect of SEO writing. Just as a beloved comedian masters the art of delivery, an SEO professional has the ability to craft the words and add embellishments that keep a visitor hooked.