In the past Search Engine Optimization (SEO) specialists have focused their online efforts in creating keyword driven content and increasing their link-building strategies. While it’s important to ensure that you build relevant backlinks with other businesses in related niches, SEO specialists have essentially ignored the importance of user metrics and their role in Google’s ranking algorithm.
What Are User Metrics?
User metrics are a set of standard metrics that help Google better understand the user experience. There are four main types of metrics that should be focused on to help your website build authority: referral traffic, brand searches, Click Through Rate (CTR) and bounce rate.
Google measures the amount of referral traffic each website receives from external websites and uses this as a key ranking factor. The referral traffic metric allows you to see how many visitors are coming to your website from non-search engine sources. Referral traffic may come from sources such as social media websites like Facebook.com or advertisements you’ve placed on other websites. Websites with a high number of referral traffic sources are more likely to be popular than websites with a fewer number of sources. By increasing the amount of traffic your website gets, you prove to Google that you’re a real business engaging in other sources of advertising. Through its innovative algorithm, Google is capable of tracking the traffic sources to each website without any analytics programs installed. (This is primarily done through Google’s Chrome browser). One way you can boost the referral traffic on your website is by promoting your website link on social media pages. You can also place advertisements on other websites to gain additional traffic from external sources.
The brand searches metric is another ranking factor that allows Google to see how many people are searching for your brand in their Google searches. Google has typically given more preference to established brands due to their reliability. Established, or larger, brands are more likely to have exceptional customer support, a team of experts who manage the company website and are more likely to still be in business several years from now. An example of the use of Brand searches was our clients’ website, which was ranked in the 18th position for a particular keyword. After only six weeks of radio advertising, their website jumped to the 3rd position for that keyword simply as a result of brand searches. SEO specialists advise that business’ aim to be one of the first three links for a keyword as they tend to receive the most clicks by customers. Another way to boost your business’ brand searches is through the distribution of press releases.
Click-Through Rate (CTR)
Your website’s click-through rate can help you improve your ranking in the Google search engine. The CTR measures which website in the results page is getting the largest percentage of clicks. The best way to achieve an increase in CTR is by creating an enticing meta-description for each web page. Web pages that lack a meta-description end up having the first two sentences of their web page shown on the results page. The click-through rate is easy for Google to measure as they can easily determine which pages are getting the most clicks. The click-through rate is used in conjunction with the bounce rate. To achieve a high click-through rate businesses should focus on providing relevant information for their audience under those specific keywords. For example, if you own a cupcake shop, you’ll want to write a meta-description that hooks people wanting to learn more about your cupcakes.
Your website’s bounce rate plays an important role in Google’s ranking algorithm. The bounce rate metric tells you whether or not website visitors click back to the Google results page upon visiting your website. While not always the case, a high bounce rate may indicate that website visitors are spending very little time on your website before ‘bouncing off’ to another website. It is recommended that website visitors spend at minimum 30 seconds on your website before moving on to the next website or heading back to Google. Websites with lower bounce rates tend to have an internal linking strategy to drive visitors to other pages within the website. There aren’t any strict rules on what the ideal bounce rate should be as it varies per website. To help lower your bounce rate, you can update your website with relevant content on a regular basis such as updating your blog or online inventory.
Why Your Business Should Analyze User Metrics
User metrics help your business better understand your target audience while also ensuring that you’re catering to your ideal customers. Keyword research helps you to understand what your customers are interested in based on what types of words they search. An SEO strategy in content marketing helps you draw customers to your website. Once your customers have reached your website, the focus should be on converting them into buyers. By analysing user metrics, you can gain great insight on who your customers are and continue providing value to them. You can provide value to your customers by writing blog posts on topics they’re interested in learning more about or having a user-friendly website design that is easy to navigate. Upon analyzing your user metrics, your business will be able to enhance your website experience to improve your rank in Google searches.
Can User Metrics Be Manipulated?
The sad truth is that to a small degree it can be. There are bots that send fake traffic to your website giving you the illusion that you have more referral or direct traffic than you really do. Yet, there is currently a Google patent in place to help reduce the amount of manipulation in user metrics moving forward. This patent is currently in place for Google AdWords and potentially even organic search. The manipulation of metrics can have a negative impact for businesses. For example, if you’re currently trying to rank for the keywords “Melbourne plumber,” the bot may be sending fake traffic from the USA. Google uses the visitors’ IP numbers to determine that most traffic is in the United States. It assumes that the business is located in the United States instead of Melbourne, Australia. As a result, Google may start showing your website in searches to people in the United States instead of Melbourne.
As user metrics are currently considered in Google’s ranking algorithm, it is important that businesses develop a strategy to improve their website’s user experience. Up until now, SEO has primarily been about link building and keyword research. Yet, we can clearly see that Google is taking user metrics into serious consideration. Businesses should start focusing on implementing a user metrics strategy as an important piece to their marketing plans to better provide their customers an optimal web experience. It is critical to carefully examine your website’s user metrics by putting serious time and resources to ensure that your business is abiding by Google’s standards. It is best to avoid taking short cuts or using manipulation to get ahead as Google has penalized websites in the past for unethical practices.
Written by Jason Boyd – Digital Strategy Manager at SEO Empire.