How people interact with your site is referred to as user metrics and helps Google determine the amount of quality your site does or does not provide to your visitors.
Google tracks how people interact with your site through a number of ways including their own SERPs and through Google Analytics that are installed on your site, the Google toolbar, and even through their web browser Google Chrome. When all of these are combined it gives Google a thorough representation of your site’s user metrics.
Google’s top goal is to provide its users with the best search results, so let’s take a look at the six user metrics Google takes into consideration when determining the quality of your site for the purpose of ranking and how your user metrics can be improved.
User Metrics That Affect Google Ranking
Traffic – Traffic is pretty easy to understand in the world of user metrics. Your traffic level affects your site as a whole. While it sounds a bit odd, the more traffic your site receives, the better it will rank. This is based on Google’s basic idea that if lots of people are going to your site, it likely has something of value to offer. Of course, this is just one small piece, and the subsequent points address how your traffic behaves in the context of your site.
Click-Through Rate In SERPs – You and Google both know that you’ll get more click-throughs the closer your site is to that coveted number one ranking. It’s by design that the top-ranked website receives more clicks than the sites below it.
If, however, sites which are ranking lower than you are in the SERPs are receiving a higher click-through rate than your site but with less visibility, that says to Google that your site isn’t offering people what they’re looking for as it relates to their search.
This can cause your ranking to drop, so make sure that every page of your site’s meta title and description, meaning the title and description which show up in the SERPs for that page, encourage click-throughs.
Bounce Rate – The bounce rate of your site refers to the percentage of people that come to your site and leave before even looking at another page. This even counts if people click through to your site and click the back button in their browser when they don’t see what they want.
Your bounce rate is the one user metric you want to be as low as possible. You can do this by making sure that you are giving visitors to your site the content they are looking for when they click through for the first time, and by providing relevant and easy to spot internal links in your content that encourage visitors to click through to other pages on your site.
Time On Site – In case it isn’t obvious, this refers to the amount of time a visitor spends on your site. You want visitors to spend longer amounts of time, so like with other user metrics, such as bounce rate, you’ll want to be sure to include many links to other pages on your site to encourage people to stay longer. Sites with very little content and a few only a few pages will not rank as well because there’s not enough to keep people there for long periods of time.
Pages Viewed – The number of pages viewed on your site is also related to the user metrics bounce rate and time on-site, but it is its own metric. Make sure you put enough internal links on each page to keep people viewing your site for as long as possible. You’ll also want to make sure your site is easy to navigate and isn’t confusing with an easy to understand menu system; doing this will ensure visitors will be viewing more pages.
Repeat Visits – When someone visits your site their browser will usually remember or store a cookie to say they’ve been to your site. The majority of people don’t put in the effort to clear their cookies at regular intervals, so if they happen to come back to your site this is another user metric that can be tracked.
You definitely want new visitors, but repeat/loyal viewers show Google that you are putting quality content on your site that people want to come back for.