They’re not revolutionary, but they absolutely make a difference.
To understand why each work, you need to know a bit about how Google’s algorithm works.
If you’re going to ever grow a business or product with SEO, this will be worth your while reading.
Here’s a brief breakdown:
Google wants its Users (you) to find the answers to their questions as fast as possible.
If Google didn’t serve up a useful answer, its Users would likely start turning to another search engine (Like Bing, Yahoo, chatGPT 👀 etc.).
So, they’ve designed (and continuously tweak) their algorithm to promote the content that they think answers the question or search that the User puts in the search bar.
What does that mean in terms of your content ranking?
Well, when Google’s algorithm is deciding whether your content actually answers the User’s query, it uses certain signals (User behaviors) to decide whether the question was answered or not.
If the signals tell them the answer was provided, Google likes your content, and the chance of it ranking higher for that query and similar queries is higher.
If the signals tell Google the User’s answer wasn’t provided by your site, it’s a negative mark against your site's name for that query.
So then, what are those signals?
Well, one of them is bounce rate.
A high bounce rate means a lot of Users are hitting your page, and going immediately back to Google without taking any further action on your site.
So the higher the bounce rate (from Google’s perspective) of a certain page on your site, the higher the likelihood that your page is not answering the User’s search query.
The converse also applies.
Let’s look at a quick example.
Someone searches “Best 10 dog beds for French Bulldogs”. Your site ranks on the first page (Woohoo!).
They click on your page titled “The 10 Best Dog Beds for Your Frenchie”.
They scroll through your page, click a few links to places where they can see the actual dog beds (like Amazon.com, for example), and then maybe go back to Google and change their search to something like “Best place to buy Pet Heaven dog beds”.
Those are three very strong signals that your page helped the User answer their question.
Your User didn’t bounce. They clicked around, scrolled, and engaged with your content.
The other “signal” Google looks out for:
Very closely linked to Bounce Rate, Engagement Time is very simply: How long on average your Users are spending on your site.
From Google’s perspective: The higher the engagement time = the higher the likelihood the User is valuing your content.
Okay, basics out of the way.
How do we improve those two metrics?
It’s easier than you think.
The two tools we use are:
- A Table of Contents
- More Reading
Here’s how, and why:
Table of Contents
A table of contents serves two purposes:
- It shows the User what content they can find on a page without them having to scroll through the whole page. The chance of them finding the answer they want quicker is higher.
- It gives them a place to click. And clicks are good! It means the User is engaging with your page and lowering your bounce rate.
How to do it?
Very simply, add a Table of Contents to either your introductory section just below the header, or use a sticky nav like I have implemented on my site above (red box is edited to show you where it sits).
These are all dynamic links that when clicked, scroll the User to various sections of the content.
Step 1, easy peasy.
More Reading Section
Often overlooked, an equally as simple to implement, you should always have a “recommended reading” or “more like this” section where Users can go to find more similar content to the page you’re showing them.
By showing more relevant content, you’re creating the opportunity to:
- Lengthen the User’s stay on your site, and
- Engage with your page.
If a User clicks on a recommended reading link that is similar to your
How to do it?
Add a “more reading” section at either (or both):
- The end of the article, and/or
- A sticky sidebar, similar to the screenshot above.
Make sure that the recommendations you provide are similar to the subject matter of the content the User is currently consuming.
This does 3 things:
- Increases the likelihood of a click,
- Improves internal linking (a good thing for ranking on Google), and
- Improves your overall authority on that particular subject. That means the rest of your articles about that topic have a higher likelihood of also starting to improve in the rankings.
And that’s it.
Two easy tricks to implement on your website that will increase your SEO ranking.
Make sure you’re tracking the improvement in engagement by measuring the clicks your Table of Contents and Recommended Reading sections generate.
Use Google Tag Manager to set up tags that fire when the links of those Class or Element ID’s are clicked.
That way, you can attribute your improvement in Click Rate and Engagement Period to the changes you’ve made, and see how you can improve them.
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