[Case-Study] How User Engagement Helps SEO Ranking

Note:- The results achieved due to the methods I’m about to describe on this page doesn’t guarantee that you will get the same by strictly following each and everything mentioned. When it comes to SEO, there are hundreds if not thousands of factors that come into play. What works for me may not be 100% working for you.

This is a small case study in which I demonstrate how I’m able to rank one of the pages on my website #1 for its main keyword and the page ended up ranking for whole lots of other related keywords, even those that are not mentioned on the page without building a single backlink to it.

In short, I’m able to achieve this feat with the help of good on-page SEO and most importantly, positive user engagement. Wondering how I have achieved this? Let’s dive right into it.

If you don’t like reading, you can watch the video below instead. 🙂

What Is User Engagement In SEO?

User engagement or customer engagement is easily defined as the various engagement metrics derived from the users who interact directly or indirectly with your brand identities.

In SEO, these brand identities have a direct connection with your website which you want to rank for. The connection is generally established via hyperlinks (follow & no-follow) to help search engines connect the dot between your brand and website.

Some of the notorious SEO user engagement signals are:

  • Social signals (shares, likes, comments, etc.)
  • Click-Through-Rate (CTR) on the search results page
  • Traffic going to your website from various sources
  • Time-on-site (time spent on your website or page)
  • Bounce rate

Now you know the clear definition of what is a user engagement, now let’s look into the actual case study by looking at the page and the keyword I wanted to rank for

The Page I wanted To Rank For

So the keyword I wanted to rank for was “Disadvantages Of Social Media Marketing”, and the URL of the page is https://techjackie.com/disadvantages-of-social-media-marketing/

The reason I chose this keyword was that after analyzing the results on the first page, I saw there was a potential due to less number of authoritative sites ranking for it and even though some of them are authority sites, their content wasn’t up to the mark.

The Initial SEO Ranking

Initially, I wrote 7 points on the disadvantages of social media marketing as I thought that would be enough. However, a couple of months passed, and I still couldn’t break the first page yet.

The content was published on May 17, 2019, and started showing on Search Console on 9th June 2019

Here’s the initial ranking screenshot from Search Console from 9th June – 31st October 2019 :

As you can see, the average position on Google Search result was 18.2, which is on the second page. Although I was able to hit the first page for a brief period of time, the majority of the ranking was on the second page for this main keyword.

The Changes Made To The Content

At this point, I knew I needed to get a quick win, i.e. to be able to rank for other long-tail variations of the keyword on the first page. After another round of keyword research, I came across the easier keyword to rank for, called:

“10 Disadvantages Of Social Media Marketing”.

So I decided to add a couple of points to make it a 10-points article and re-wrote the title tag to make it more compelling. As the result, I finally was able to break into the first page for this long-tail variation towards the end of October.

What ended up happening was I started getting more and more clicks to the page, since it’s now on the first page, with positive user engagement.

Achieved No.1 Ranking For The Main Keyword

After the changes made, the page started getting better than average CTR, even though it was ranking lower, and a very good time-on-site consistently for the long-tail. The positive user engagement for the long-tail variation seemed to have helped the main keyword’s ranking.

Let’s talk a bit about better than average CTR. There was a case study by Larry Kim back in 2016 which claimed that a better than expected CTR on the specific position will help increase your ranking.

From the graph above, you can see that my average position for the
“10 Disadvantages Of Social Media Marketing” was 5.2, but the CTR was 9.7%, which according to Advanced Web Ranking CTR tool, is much higher than the average, which is 3.36% for results sitting at 5th position.

This led to the position being increased consistently for the main keyword on the first page. From the second page to the lower end of the first page, to top 5, top 3, and finally to #1, as you can see in the graph below:

Here’s the Google analytics metric from 1st November 2019 to 30th April 2020:

The page also ended up ranking for whole lots of other keywords that aren’t even mentioned on the page:

And to prove that I haven’t built a single backlink to this page here’s the latest screenshot from Ahrefs (all of these spam no-follow links came naturally and shouldn’t contribute to any ranking advantage)

Conclusion

And that’s all for the case study of how positive user engagement has helped increase the ranking for this page of my website, without a single backlink built.

In a nutshell, I believe right after I made the change to the page to be able to rank on the first page for the long-tail variation, I started getting the clicks and traffic to the page, and due to the good time-on-site and higher CTR, which sent a positive signal to Google, the page ended up ranking higher for its main keyword.

That’s all for it, and I hope you have enjoyed the reading. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me here.

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