Keywords and inbound links are the organic way readers discover your website. Once you get visitors to your website, their activity and behavior is what becomes important to search engines. Again, what search engines measure makes a lot of sense if you think it through.
Related to backlinks, which we overviewed in part 2 of Taking the Mystery Out of SEO, your traffic’s origin is the first metric in a visitor activity session. Visitors who followed a link to your site from a website like Forbes Magazine, which has high domain authority, increases the authority of your site as well. Google’s “page rank” metric was discontinued in 2010 – at least its maintenance and transparency was discontinued.
Since then, Domain Authority (DA) developed by MOZ is a standard ranking metric that is available for consideration by the public.
Do we really know how Google measures domain and page authority now? No. The algorithm that Google actually uses is a mystery guarded more diligently than the gates of hell. However, SEO experts can make some pretty accurate guesses by crunching the data. What we do know is DA still is a major factor in determining your position on Google’s search engine result pages (SERP). Of course, we all want to rank #1 for our keywords of choice.
A domain authority exception is social media, although Facebook gets more traffic than any other website in the world apart from YouTube and Google itself, social media generally falls outside the realm of domain authority because links from social media are mostly generated by the company that created the content in the first place. Search Engine traffic from social media is indexed very differently than inbound links from conventional websites and media outlets.
That does not mean that social traffic is not a factor. It IS a major factor because:
1) Social media links are indexed by search engines, just differently.
2) Social follows get people to your site. Once on your site, how engaged your visitors are is what helps you reach the top of the SERP heap.
Visitor Engagement is measured under the general category of Visitor Activity.
Did your visitor read the whole page they landed on? This is Time on Page.
Did they continue to other pages on your site? This is Session Duration.
Did they read half of one page, hate it, and never return? This is Bounce Rate.
On the other hand, did a visitor return to your site again and again? This is Return Visitor Ratio.
All these metrics can be monitored closely using Google Analytics.
This all makes logical sense. Let us look at the anatomy of a perfect session. A visitor arrives at your website from a high authority source or SERP, they land on a blog page and read every word of it, they like what they have read so much that they read several more pages on your site. Once sated with your content, they follow a link in one of your blogs to another high authority site. A couple days later, they come back to your site, read some more, and opt-in to your mailing list. That is a great user experience and it isn’t complicated at all. The key to it is great content.