Over the years, there has been a lot of speculation about Google’s ranking signals. The speculation is as old as Google. What makes a site reach the pinnacle of Search Engine Results Page (SERP) and another to be buried deep in the SERP. Google has always been very secretive about precise mechanics of its ranking algorithm. But recently, Google has let the cat out of the bag.
On March 23, 2016, during a live stream Q and A, Andrey Lipattsev, a Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google, revealed that the No. 1 and 2 Ranking factors were links and content.
Links will play a less important role in the future as Google starts to understand natural language better. This is what Matt Cutts had to say about the Future of Links.
“as we get better at understanding who wrote something and what the real meaning of that content is, inevitably over time, there will be little less emphasis on links.”
If links are not the future of SEO, then in which direction is SEO heading.
It’s USER EXPERIENCE.
One of the key User experience Metrics is Dwell time.
What is Dwell Time?
The term Dwell time was first mentioned by Duane Forrester who wrote a post “How to Build Quality Content”
Dwell time measures how long it takes for a searcher to return to a SERP after clicking on a result. How does it impacts SEO? Does Google pays close attention to it? Yes it does.
Regardless of many algorithm changes by Google, what has remained steadfast is Effectiveness of Content. If the Content is worth reading, it stands to reason that a visitor will spend time on your site. On the other hand, a visitor leaving within 5-6 seconds after arriving at your site is a sure sign that something is amiss. You need to figure out what.
You not only need to provide compelling content, but aim to increase visitor’s dwell time by engaging them further.
How to Increase Dwell Time
1. Focus on Content that is relevant, Useful and actionable.
If you are not creating content that is worth reading (One paragraph content/50 word content), what do you expect users to do? Stick around for long on your site? They won’t.
The same goes for title and meta descriptions. They must match the content on the page. Imagine a situation where a searcher clicks on your link in SERP due to enticing title and meta description, only to find the page is useless in answering his/her query. The searcher will quickly hit the back button, sending a clear message to Google that the content doesn’t meet user’s expectations.
2. Interlink your content
An effective way to encourage visitors to visit more pages is by interlinking, thus making it easier for them to discover new content. By guiding them to other areas of your site, you are discouraging them from returning to Google’s Search Engine Results Page.