User Engagement Optimization & Local SEO

Website statistics
Google Analytics

For some time now, Google has put a lot of effort in monitoring and analyzing how the users behave, when they land on a website that they have found in their search engine. By doing this Google collects a lot of data that they, until just a few years ago, didn’t even look at. 

This means that Google can asses and rank a website and then test if it deserves the ranking it got, by monitoring the user’s behavior on the site. If it doesn’t, Google will degrade it, or even remove it entirely from their search engine results of a certain keyword or frase. That way they can make room for other websites that are a better match for that keyword search.

It is impossible to know exactly how much and what kind of data Google actually uses, but it is a fact that they do, and they will probably improve their methods even more in the future, as they get smarter and develop more monitoring tools. Ultimately, this means that user engagement optimization will be even more important in our SEO efforts in the years to come.

But where does Google get the user engagement data?

Monitoring websites
Google Analytics

Google has access to much more data than you might imagine. We know for sure that they get user engagement data from Google Toolbar, Google Analytics, Chrome, and Google Adsense. Apart from those obvious ones we can mention tablets and Android phones.

What user engagement data is Google monitoring?

As I wrote earlier, it is impossible to know for certain what data they use. Only Google knows the answer to that, and they are, as usual, very secretive about their methods. The following list is more of a qualified guess, than actual facts. But these are what makes sense to me, in random order:

  • Bounce rate
  • Pageviews per user
  • Time spent on website
  • Pogo sticking
  • Actions on the site

How do we optimize our user engagement?

It can be easier said than done. You need some expertise in the programs and tools used to analyze the data, and you must know how to read and decode it. This is not something that a mere web statistics tool can do for you.

Website stats
Google Analytics

One thing you can do is to access your analyzing tool, and look at the high bounce rate, and try to find out why your users are leaving your page right away. There can be many reasons for this particular behavior; maybe your page doesn’t render correctly, some text may be missing, or maybe some images are “broken” – or maybe the quality of the content on your site just doesn’t live up to the user’s expectations or demands. In that case, you need to find out what isn’t good enough and modify it, or change it all together.

By using Google Analytics you can easily find out what the bounce rate is, and how much time, and how many pageviews per user. By analyzing these data you can find out what is working for you and what probably isn’t. You should then compare the good pages to the bad ones – by doing this you can sometimes figure out a thing or two that you can improve.

Local SEO

Maps and locations
Google Places

It doesn’t matter if you are running a local, national, or an international business, you still need to be visible in the local results. 

You know those local listings, where you can see those businesses closest to you. You list your business in the local listings in Google Places, it is easily set up and you can get results right away.

Links are important to Local SEO in order to get good rankings, but in this case you must focus on getting links from that specific local area that you wish to get rankings. This is done so Google can see that you actually belong in that specific area. You can also do Local SEO on your website, focusing on the on the cities and places where your users are situated.

The importance of reviews
Google Places

One of the things that really affect rankings in the local Google Places Listings, is reviews. The more positive reviews you get, the higher your rankings in Google Places Listings. The results here show your location on a map and provide the users with the possibility of a direct phone link as well.

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