One of the biggest mistakes many website owners make is failing to measure the impact that their SEO activities have made. This is akin to following a diet and exercise program, and then not bothering to check your weight.
There are two specific SEO metrics which Google looks at very closely to see if the visitors they send to a website via their search results are having a good experience. These are ‘Page Views‘, and ‘Session Time’.
If you have a business with an online presence, it is not enough to have people visit your website; you want them to engage with the website and the content therein. The more that they read articles, watch videos and click through multiple sections of your website the better.
The level of engagement that a visitor has with your site, is measured by a metric called ‘page views’. A high number of page views tells you that visitors are taking an active interest in your website, whereas a low number suggests they are disinterested in looking through it.
This data is measured by Google, and if they see that visitors are clicking through to lots of pages on a website they will increase the ranking of that site. The reason for this is that they want their search engine results to show sites that encourage activity. One way this is achieved is with great content that users find interesting.
Compare this scenario to a site which has little or poor content and as a result, visitors very rarely click through to other pages. The page views metric will be low, therefore, Google reduces the ranking of that site.
Session time is a metric which is very closely related to page view in the sense that it is a measure of the amount of activity and interaction undertaken by visitors to a website. In this case, it is not the number of pages they visit, but how long they remain on the website.
A website with a poor layout and very little quality content to encourage visitors to stay will soon have its ranking reduced by Google. On the other hand, a website with great graphics, a fantastic layout, and lots of top quality content will have visitors remaining for a reasonable length of time, When Google’s data gathering machine identifies such a site, it assumes that visitors have a good enough experience to stay for longer. The result is that the website moves up in Google’s search results.
Both session time and page views metrics will be influenced by several factors. The first will be the initial impression that a visitor has when they first set their eyes on the website. For this reason, it is important that your website is visually appealing, and uses graphics and colours which are appropriate for the niche you’re in. For example, a financial services website would not be expected to have bright or luminous green and orange, whereas those colours might be ideal for a music or fashion website.
The next factor is how easy the website is to navigate. Poor navigation breeds confusion in a visitor, and when that happens they will leave quickly. With a clear and understandable menu, or links to other parts of the website, a visitor will navigate through the website, and in turn, remain for longer.
The most important factor in encouraging visitors to stay longer, and click through to other pages, is the content on a website. Informative, interesting, fun and even controversial content will always be more effective than sparse and boring content in terms of page views and session times. When these are high, Google rewards you. When they are low, your ranking will sink without trace.