In digital marketing, few Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are as vital as user engagement. This famous but slightly elusive and oft-misunderstood term rightfully dominates most such discussions. From Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to content marketing and everything in-between, the user’s attention is the coveted goal. In theoretical terms, it attests to your campaigns’ effectiveness. In practical terms, it directly boosts conversions; engaged audiences simply convert more. But what exactly is user engagement? Perhaps more importantly, in practice, what are the best ways to boost user engagement on your site? Let us devote this article to exploring both.
What is user engagement?
Let’s begin with the former question first. User engagement reflects how well your site or content resonates with your audience and maintains their interest. In turn, this term encompasses multiple other metrics. These, while exact definitions will differ, are typically defined as the following.
#1 Content absorption
Engagement begins with content absorption. In this regard, consider some standard metrics that gauge engagement:
- Bounce rates; do your readers stay or leave shortly after landing on your page?
- Time on page; if they don’t bounce, how much time do they spend on a page?
- Pages per session; after absorbing a page’s content, how many other pages do they navigate to per session?
Of course, as we’ll highlight below, all such metrics have different solutions. However, their core principle remains the same; do your visitors find your site and pages interesting and valuable?
Having ensured your visitors’ initial attention, the next step lies in interaction. Here, consider such metrics as the following:
- Comments; does your content incite user engagement in the form of comments?
- Reactions; do your audiences react to your pages?
- Shares; does your content offer enough value to be shared, creating referral traffic?
Finally, one may gauge user engagement through conversions. Completed purchases aside, desirable actions that can indicate an engaged audience may include:
- Media interactions; do your visitors click on images, view videos, etc.?
- Filed forms; do they file forms, like contact forms and free estimate offers?
- Newsletter signups; do they sign up for your newsletter for future outreach?
Naturally, conversions are the final goal of boosted engagement. Moreover, they are proof of engagement themselves; if audiences seek to interact with your desks and media, your efforts work.
Ways to boost user engagement on your site
Having defined the different metrics that compose user engagement, let us address the introduction’s latter question. Theory is fine, but how do you boost user engagement on your site in practice? While there are a plethora of practices to consider, you may begin with the five fundamental ones.
#1 Optimize your website’s loading speed and responsiveness
As highlighted just above, engagement begins with visitors who stay. In this regard, among SEO’s most crucial criteria lie the following:
- Loading speed
The reason for this is relatively simple; internet users, especially tech-savvy contemporary audiences, value their time. They will thus bounce if they find your site to be slow or unresponsive. Fortunately, while other metrics may resist such clear-cut conclusions, Google’s own research on this subject proves this correlation.
Therefore, improving speed and responsiveness is arguably the most appropriate, substantive first step. Here, consider some tried-and-tested SEO practices to do so:
- Optimize images; compressing your images to beneath 100kB without compromising quality can improve loading speeds.
- Cache web pages where possible; offering cached pages instead of producing them dynamically can also help on both accounts.
#2 Ensure accessibility
On the subject of retaining users, accessibility is an absolute must in the digital age. There are multiple reasons why you should make your website more accessible, each of which should deserve a brief elaboration.
Reaching a wider audience
Moral imperatives aside, ensuring your website is accessible offers the opportunity to reach a wider audience. Internet users with varying forms of impairments are a vast demographic that is only projected to expand over time.
Benefiting your existing audience
New audiences aside, accessibility also yields benefits to your existing audiences. Practices that enhance it typically improve navigation and readability, which all audiences appreciate. Moreover, your website’s accessibility score also affects your SEO.
Adhering to the law
Finally, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)’s Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) includes Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). These are not laws per se, but they do already inform the law in many countries and jurisdictions. As such, accessibility measures can also prevent legal concerns.
With these factors in mind, you may explore practices that help ensure accessibility and boost user engagement on your site. These may include the following:
- Add alt text to all images; alt text describes images for assistive technologies like screen readers and also displays when pictures fail to load.
- Ensure keyboard-friendliness; “keyboard focus” on your site’s major elements allows users with physical impairments to navigate your site with just the Tab key. This kind of design optimization also enables easier navigation for your general audience.
- Examine your white space and color choices; ample use of white space enhances your content’s readability and incites engagement. Similarly, colors that don’t bleed into each other allow visually impaired audiences to better absorb your content. Finally, visually distinct colors help all audiences find your CTAs and convert.
#3 Streamline your navigation
Having touched on navigation, ease of navigation is another crucial factor to consider. Your individual landing pages may be optimized, but if your site isn’t, your visitors won’t likely navigate deeper. Most notably, this affects the pages-per-session metric, which in turn affects SEO as well.
To streamline your website’s navigation, you may consider the following practices:
- Provide a sitemap; a clear, concise HTML sitemap will do wonders for all your audiences, as it will make relevant pages immediately accessible. Simultaneously, providing search engines with an XML sitemap will ensure quicker indexing, enhancing your SEO efforts.
- De-clutter your header menu; similarly, a clean, readable, user-friendly header menu assists with navigation. On it, you may prioritize your most valuable or best-converting pages for easier access.
Enhance your categorization; finally, ensure your sitemap and header menu both adhere to optimal categorization. Group together your thematically similar content so that your audience doesn’t need to search for it.
#4 Optimize your pages and content
This subject likely warrants its own article, but it is equally crucial to mention here. From SEO to Landing Page Optimization (LPO), nothing increases engagement quite as well as content itself. Thus, to boost user engagement on your site, you may consider the following practices:
- Provide content with length and depth; SEO rightfully holds that “quality is king”, and audiences agree. Ensure that your written content is over 1,000 words long while also offering value and factual accuracy to engage audiences. Update old content if necessary to guarantee relevance and accuracy.
- Ensure proper keyword density; keywords are instrumental to SEO and audiences alike. For SEO, they help inform search engines of your content’s subject. For human visitors, excessive keyword density can imply inauthentic, manufactured content. Typically, a density of 1 keyword for every 250 words of text satisfies both.
- Format your content; nobody likes large, unformatted chunks of text. Ensure that headings and subheadings, bullet lists, images, and other elements make your content digestible and scannable.
- Refine your page layout; content is only as effective and attractive as its layout allows it. Ensure that your most valuable content is above the fold and that images and CTAs are supplementary instead of intrusive. As above, remember to use formatting, discernible colors, and white space to ensure readability and drive conversions.
#5 Refine your CTAs
Finally, your CTAs are the most crucial factors as regards conversions. At the same time, they too can boost user engagement on your site by best highlighting your proposition’s value. While this subject boasts equally impressive depth to thoroughly cover here, you may keep in mind the following:
- Ensure visibility; your CTAs should be readily visible and appear clickable. Thus, you should ensure there is no visual clutter or seemingly clickable elements around them.
- Provide clarity; to call users to an action, they must readily understand the action – and its value. You should thus use clear, direct language that best conveys your CTAs’ offer.
- Align CTAs with your sales funnel; CTAs should encourage desirable actions beyond purchases. Consider which stages of your sales funnel best frame different actions, and add corresponding CTAs liberally.
Of course, there are also such factors as using your audiences’ preferred tone and inciting urgency to keep in mind. However, your analytics tools will best outline the need for them – and the best likely course of action.
To summarize, user engagement is an invaluable, overarching metric that affects SEO, final sales, and everything in-between. Fortunately, there are multiple ways to boost user engagement on your site and reap its benefits. You may optimize your website to ensure better loading times and increased responsiveness, improving the user experience (UX), or optimize your site and content for accessibility, ensuring better navigation in the process. You may also focus on navigation specifically, offering sitemaps and clean header menus for a more pleasant experience. Finally, you may optimize your pages and content, as well as your CTAs themselves, to incite engagement and conversions. Such practices offer lucrative, effective ways to allure visitors to engage with your page, progressing through your sales funnel.