SEO is becoming more about CRO

engagement seo

If you haven’t caught on yet, but google wants to know how well your website converts.  And when we say “convert,” we’re not talking about just turning a website visitor into a dollar figure.  We are talking about how useful your page is on your website when it comes to satisfying the consumer visiting.

Using Moz’s ranking data on over 200,000 domains, combined with multiple SimilarWeb data points—including traffic, page views, bounce rate, time on site, and rank—the Search Ranking Factors study was able to measure how these metrics corresponded to higher rankings.


And honestly, it simply makes sense.  If you built the perfect search engine and then tested out 5 results that you threw in front of people who were searching for a particular term like:

top google searches 2017

and saw a number of results like the following: 

top searches in 2017 on google

After the visitors click through to the various results, users are making decisions on which ones they prefer.  And when they do, google is giving credit — whether it be fair or not — to some of the websites in the serp.

We’ve been building multiple results for this annual need and have provided them over the years:

and our most recent one produced in “2017 re: Most Searched Topics” that was a culmination of learning what people seemed to want.

The irony is that when looking through Ahref’s #1 result in the above serp, it looks MUCH like our earlier versions of the study before we filtered out brands and adult related terms.  However, google is still giving them credit due to their brand and the longer piece which keeps users on their pages longer.

And the SimilarWeb + Moz study continues to explain:

For the study, we examined both direct and organic search visits over a three-month period. SimilarWeb’s traffic results show that there is a generally a high correlation between website visits and Google’s search rankings.

Put simply, the more traffic a site received, the higher it tended to rank. Practically speaking, this means that you would expect to see sites like Amazon and Wikipedia higher up in the results, while smaller sites tended to rank slightly worse.

This doesn’t mean that Google uses traffic and user engagement metrics as an actual ranking factor in its search algorithm, but it does show that a relationship exists. Hypothetically, we can think of many reasons why this might be the case:

  • A “brand” bias, meaning that Google may wish to treat trusted, popular, and established brands more favorably.
  • Possible user-based ranking signals (described by Dan here) where uses are more inclined to choose recognizable brands in search results, which in theory could push their rankings higher.
  • Which came first—the chicken or the egg? Alternatively, it could simply be the case that high-ranking websites become popular simply because they are ranking highly.

Regardless of the exact cause, it seems logical that the more you improve your website’s visibility, trust, and recognition, the better you may perform in search results.

And google shows this in other ways by dedicated many resources around engagement.

How do we improve engagement in our websites?

stubborn behavior

Pew released another study showing “How Americans Approach Facts and Information.” In it, they identified there are 5 distinct groups of users:

  • The Eager and Willing (22%)
  • The Confident (16%)
  • The Cautious and Curious (13%)
  • The Doubtful (24%)
  • The Wary (25%)

Which one are you?

Pew identified the demographic correlations with each of these groups.  They equated:

The Eager and Willing = 52% of the group being made up by minorities; 31% are Hispanic; 21% are black.  Some 38% are White.

The Confident = heavily white, very well educated, and fairly comfortable economically.  Some 31% are between 18-29 years of age — the highest of any group.

The Cautious and Curious = basically mirrors the general population. And it has a somewhat lower level of educational attainment.  In case you were curious what the general populace looked like:

Subject Number Percent
Female population 156,964,212 50.8
Male population 151,781,326 49.2

16 years and over – 38-40%

18 years and over – 37-39%

21 years and over – 35-37%

62 years and over – 7-9%

One Race 299,736,465 97.1
White 223,553,265 72.4
Black or African American 38,929,319 12.6
American Indian and Alaska Native 2,932,248 0.9
Asian 14,674,252 4.8
Asian Indian 2,843,391 0.9
Chinese 3,347,229 1.1
Filipino 2,555,923 0.8
Japanese 763,325 0.2
Korean 1,423,784 0.5
Vietnamese 1,548,449 0.5
Other Asian [1] 2,192,151 0.7
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 540,013 0.2
Native Hawaiian 156,146 0.1
Guamanian or Chamorro 88,310 0.0
Samoan 109,637 0.0
Other Pacific Islander [2] 185,920 0.1
Some Other Race 19,107,368 6.2
Two or More Races 9,009,073 2.9
White; American Indian and Alaska Native [3] 1,432,309 0.5
White; Asian [3] 1,623,234 0.5
White; Black or African American [3] 1,834,212 0.6
White; Some Other Race [3] 1,740,924 0.6
Race alone or in combination with one or more other races: [4]
White 231,040,398 74.8
Black or African American 42,020,743 13.6
American Indian and Alaska Native 5,220,579 1.7
Asian 17,320,856 5.6
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 1,225,195 0.4
Some Other Race 21,748,084 7.0
Total population 308,745,538(r38234) 100.0
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 50,477,594 16.3
Mexican 31,798,258 10.3
Puerto Rican 4,623,716 1.5
Cuban 1,785,547 0.6
Other Hispanic or Latino [5] 12,270,073 4.0
Not Hispanic or Latino 258,267,944 83.7
Total population 308,745,538(r38234) 100.0
Hispanic or Latino 50,477,594 16.3
White alone 26,735,713 8.7
Black or African American alone 1,243,471 0.4
American Indian and Alaska Native alone 685,150 0.2
Asian alone 209,128 0.1
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone 58,437 0.0
Some Other Race alone 18,503,103 6.0
Two or More Races 3,042,592 1.0
Not Hispanic or Latino 258,267,944 83.7
White alone 196,817,552 63.7
Black or African American alone 37,685,848 12.2
American Indian and Alaska Native alone 2,247,098 0.7
Asian alone 14,465,124 4.7
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone 481,576 0.2
Some Other Race alone 604,265 0.2
Two or More Races 5,966,481 1.9


The Doubtful = most middle-aged of the groups, mainly white, and also relatively well educated and comfortable economically.

Finally, the Wary = heavily male (59%) and 1/3 are 65 or older.

Given this data and your goals, you can decide which population you want to satisfy and possibly how to lay out your pages to overcome or cater to these audiences.

And the final stat for you marketers today:

Smartphones = The Market you want to Target

Duh.  But go ahead and read Google’s report on it…


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