When meeting with potential SEO clients I like to get a feel for how they are measuring their current strategies. I see the same common misconceptions across the board, and I want to try and help squash them so that you don’t fall victim to the same traps.
Misconception 1: High “Time On Page” (or Time on Site) Means My Content Is Great
Maybe you’ve heard this before, or perhaps you just told this to your team (don’t feel bad, it’s common!): “Our service page is awesome because people are spending five minutes on it! We must really be interesting or answering all their questions.” I hate to break it to you, but in 2016 people are looking to get their information as quickly as possible. In fact, Google is likely using the metric of how fast people are being served as a factor in their algorithm.
User wants results right away — Users on phones want them faster. Before you jump to the conclusion that a high time on page is great, evaluate if your content is giving your visitors what they want, when they want it. Think about the mobile user’s needs. Help your visitors retrieve what they need and move on — they’ll thank you for it later.
Misconception 2: High Bounce Rates Mean People Don’t Like What They Find On My Site
First we have to understand what bounce rate means. Bounce rate is when someone lands on a page on your site and makes no additional page views. Now it’s true that pogo-sticking can hurt your SEO. Pogo-sticking is the term we use for users going from search engines to your page then back to search engines and to other pages. This signals to Google that your content didn’t meet their needs. However, bounce rate is not the same as Pogo-sticking.
If a user lands on your page — hopefully a great landing page designed to convert — then chances are their needs are met quickly. Perhaps your goal is to get them to sign up for your newsletter or download your brochure. What if the user does all of that in 30 seconds, then leaves? That’s a 100% bounce rate, yet they accomplished exactly what you wanted.
Misconception 3: More Pages Visited Means User Is More Engaged
No, not really. This goes back once again to the idea of getting your visitors what they want as quickly as possible. In fact, if you have visitors making 4, 5, 6 page views that may indicate they can’t find what they need. You could be disengaging your audience completely.
Focus less on funneling your visitor from one page to the next and more on converting that visitor as fast as possible. Do that through great content, streamlined design (great calls-to-action), and by understanding what you visitors want before they even land on your site.