How User Engagement Affects SEO in a Post-Penguin 4.0 World
By Nick Rojas
Google’s Penguin algorithm first hit the SEO scene in 2012. Penguin was revolutionary in that it marked the shift towards valuing content for readers, and not for search engines. The algorithm caused low-quality inbound links to start negatively impacting a website’s SEO ranking.
Google continued to build on the algorithm by using incremental refreshes to search the web for low quality links. This forced black hat SEOs to revamp their linking strategies to avoid Google penalties.
However, some low-quality links survived between updates because penalties were only assigned at refreshes, which happened infrequently.
Google’s latest Penguin update, Penguin 4.0, runs in real time and effectively closes that loophole. As of September 2016, Google now automatically scans any new inbound links for quality. With Real-Time Penguin, marketers must be creative in identifying ways to complement the links that will no longer support their rankings.
The most powerful way to complement link data as a ranking factor is by optimizing for user engagement metrics. In this article, we’ll break down five metrics that marketers are using to fill the linking void.
Click through rate
Click through rate (CTR) is one metric Google shares with users, despite the extreme secretive surrounding their search algorithm.
CTR is the number of clicks on a search result, divided by the number of impressions (views of that search result). The metric is just another way to label the likelihood of someone visiting a website through a Google search.
SEO marketers care about CTR because a higher click through rate means more exposure to content. Increased exposure gives users a greater chance to engage, and this affects other SEO metrics.
To improve CTR, marketers must optimize the meta title and description to attract the click. Marketers focus on crafting a persuasive meta title (the clickable part of a search result) and meta description (the search result description) to increase clicks.
Higher ranking equals more visibility, and a higher click through rate.
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