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Engagement is More Important Than Ever for SEO

Google’s latest algorithm update highlights the importance of engagement with users with a customer-friendly shopping experience. Google is looking to reward sites that are built for users, and not search engines. They are trying to do this by analyzing page quality indicators like page layout and loading speeds. The importance of this algorithm adjustment suggests Google will now be analyzing bounce rates. Google defines a bounce rate as: the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left a site from the entrance (landing) page. With high bounce rates for traffic driven to a site as a result of a Google search, organizations may find themselves bumped down a few notches on Google searches.

Linda Bustos, Director of Ecommerce Research at Elastic Path, provides a great description as to why having a low bounce rate is important to a site’s SEO,  “ if your page’s content and incoming links suggest high relevance for the search query “learn to speak french,” but you consistently have a high bounce rate and very short average time on page before users return to search to try other results, Google’s simply not going to want to keep ranking you highly. Whether the reason for your high bounce rate is too much non-content above the fold, painfully slow page loads, cluttered and confusing design or something else.” Click to read the full blog article posted by Elastic Path on how bounce rate optimization can improve your search.

For ecommerce organizations, improving a site’s quality and lowering bounce rates can be accomplished through the use of faceted site navigation. Not only does the implementation of faceted navigation improve a sites quality, it also encourages users to engage with a site. When a Google search directs users to the category page utilizing faceted navigation, users are encouraged to click refinements like: color, price range, brand, rating, and size to narrow the amount of displayed products. Even though the product they truly desire is buried deep within the display of other products, users have the tools available to filter the results.  Faceted navigation refinements have proven to consistently driven down bounce rates 7% – 15% in every analytic study Searchspring has seen.

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Conversely, organizations not utilizing any form of faceted site navigation provide users with few options to narrow search results. As Google search results direct users to category pages populated with many product options, users view products that are of interest, however, with no simplistic way to narrow the results many users become discouraged to browse through each and every product listed. As a result of seeing no easy form of refinements a user typically “bounces” from that page back to Google.

Google’s algorithm change directs attention to the quality of a site and highlights the importance of utilizing faceted site navigation throughout ecommerce. As SEO continues to advance, the ecommerce industry is finding a direct correlation between quality and search optimization. Therefore, to truly optimize any ecommerce site attention needs to be focused on quality and engagement. By offering powerful navigation tools to users will not just improve the quality of a site – it will preserve a sites hard earned SEO.