Jump-start your SEO: improve your user experience

new study on ranking factors has some interesting results. While it reinforces the critical importance of link building for your rankings, it also suggests other areas can carry a great deal of SEO weight – areas that can be actioned in the short term (because we all know how long link building takes).

SEMRush study on ranking factorsWhat the study revealed was just how much weight Google seems to give to site performance. Specifically, how engaging your site is may well significantly influence how your site ranks in Google’s search results. Yes we’ve known Page Speed is an increasingly important ranking factor, and you might also help your site rank better if you make it secure (https://). But Bounce Rate (BR), Time on Site, and Pages Per Session?

And yet, if we look at it from the POV of the user, these metrics are everything. Does the site match their search intent? Is there content they find useful and engage with? Or do they leave immediately? Does your shop window (what people see in the search results) match what they get in the store (what they find on your site).

That Google can rank for BR is slightly scary. On the other hand, it is simply the time between a click on a link in the SERPs and a click back to the search results.

What this really means is that so much SEO potential can be gained from a close examination of your site’s (organic) traffic & behaviour. This should go beyond just looking at analytics. You can easily see those crucial metrics like BR and Pages per Session. But why are the metrics what they are? You need to closely examine the user experience.

Get that heatmap tracking service installed now and start collecting data that you can action. Where are people clicking when they reach your site? How far are they scrolling down your pages? Do you have clear calls to action? There’s no need to radically change your site – A/B testing is an ideal solution to try out your changes that can impact the user experience.

Look at ways to reduce friction, drop-offs and of course, bounce rate, and you’ll get a leaner, more effective, more useful website that may well rank better.

The Google Analytics Data Retention Clock is ticking

You, or the agency handling your analytics, should recently have received an email from Google Analytics about an update to their Data Retention policy. Specifically, and effective from May 25th, the default data retention period is for 26 months. But it can be changed to anything from 14 months to well, never. The default retention period is 26 months.

To change your Data Retention settings, go into Admin –> Tracking Info for the Property in question.

Before you panic, note that the data retention period is for user and event data (such as cookies), not broader ‘aggregated’ data. But still, if you’re a data squirrel like myself, you’ll want to hang on to that juicy data for as long as possible. Except that strictly speaking, with Google Analytics Standard, your data is only guaranteed to be retained for a mere 25 months anyway!