Search Engine Rankings – It’s About Time and Content

Search Engine Rankings – Keep Visitors Engaged


search engine rankings and backlinksI’m sure you’ll agree that it’s really hard to get your site to show up near the top of the search engine rankings.  Unless you’re in a niche without a lot of competition, you’ll be continually fighting to stay near the top of the search engine rankings with Google or Bing.

That’s just part of having a Website, and even the biggest companies fight to obtain and maintain their search engine rankings.  I’ve written before about various ways to get to the top, but unfortunately, there’s no single way to do it.  Google, for example, uses more than two hundred factors to determine their search engine rankings.
Still, some factors are more important than others, and in this post, I’ll tell you about one really important factor that can make a huge difference in how your site performs in the Google and Bing search engine rankings.

Time Matters a Lot With Search Engine Rankings

A lot of what I’ve written about good SEO and search engine rankings has to do with content.  I’ve suggested that you pick a niche, choose your keywords carefully, and write helpful, meaningful content that’s unique and insightful.


That’s great, and we all assume that writing good content will please Google and give you good results in the search engine rankings.  That’s part of the equation, but it turns out that the best content in the world won’t help you if people find your site and aren’t immediately engaged by what you have to say.

Why does this matter?

It matters because Google places a surprising amount of emphasis on how long a visitor stays on your landing page.  Google is constantly juggling their search engine rankings, but one factor that goes a long way towards determining which sites rank highly is the amount of time a visitor spends on your site.

It makes sense, if you think about it.

If someone searches for “dog training” because they want to teach their cocker spaniel to behave properly, they expect the search engine rankings to list sites that offer content to help them train their pet.  But search engines aren’t human, and they sometimes make mistakes.

dog training and search engine rankingsSuppose you’re searching for “dog training” and you find a site that lists near the top of the search engine rankings and you click on it.  Then you see a blog post that begins with “I worked like a dog training for the Boston Marathon.”  Yes, that page contains the phrase “dog training”, but the site and the page are not about that particular topic.  Once you get there, you’ll realize that the site isn’t offering anything of value to you, and you’ll likely click the “back” button on your browser and look for another site.

What does this have to do with you?

The search engines, and Google in particular, keep track of how long people stay on sites that they click on in their search results.  They assume, probably correctly, that the longer people stay on a site, the more relevant and engaging the content on that site might be for visitors.  As a result of this, Google tends to reward sites that can keep their visitors on their pages longer.

Sites with pages that don’t keep the visitors engaged will quickly sink like a stone in the search engine rankings.

What can you do about it?

There are various things that you can do to keep people on your pages longer.  Obviously, the first thing is to write good, interesting content.  You also need to write long content.  You can’t keep someone on your page for five minutes if you only have fifty words of text on the page, so the old suggestion that you write content of at least 1000 words still holds true.

It also remains a good idea to write that content yourself, and make sure that it’s helpful and interesting.  There are other things you can do, however, such as breaking up your content into smaller, more easily readable chunks.

A lot of people will abandon a page if it has a lot of really long paragraphs.  I’m guilty of writing those, and I’ve been making an effort recently to break my content down into smaller pieces. They’re “easier to digest” and they tend to keep visitors engaged.

What else?

keep your visitors from getting boredI also try to break up the monotony of pages by including images, and by alternately putting them on the left and right side of the text.  This makes it easier for the visitor’s eyes to follow the page.

Another great technique is to use key phrases, interspersed throughout your text to keep readers interested and reading longer.  These are leading phrases and questions that are designed to grab  the reader’s attention and lead them into subsequent paragraphs.

What are they?

These are short phrases, such as:

  • Bottom line?
  • I can’t emphasize this enough:
  • But there’s a catch…
  • What’s the real story?
  • How can you put this to use
  • The best part?
  • Why does this matter?
  • That’s not all…
  • You won’t believe what happened next…

There are other phrases that work this way; you can probably think of a few yourself.  They make nice little spacers between one paragraph and the next, and they’re designed to keep your readers paying attention and essentially take them by the hand and lead them to the next paragraph.

These little phrases are important, because you want visitors to stay on your page, and that can improve your placement in the search engine rankings.  First of all, you’ve gone to great lengths to write good, lengthy content.  This takes time, and it’s your time that you probably would prefer to have spent doing something else.  That’s wasted time if your readers don’t bother to read all of it.

You also likely have some interest in having visitors to your site.  You might want them to sign up for your mailing list, or you might want them to purchase a product, either from you directly or through an affiliate link.  That’s not likely to happen if visitors only spend ten seconds on your page.

Your Search Engine Rankings Will Get Better

You’ll find that if you spend just a bit of time fine-tuning your site’s content, that you’ll do a better job of keeping your visitors engaged, and you’ll keep them on your page longer.  That, in turn, will please Google and Bing and reassure them that your site is giving your visitors what they came for, and that, in turn, will likely result in better search engine rankings for you.

The best thing about doing this is that it really doesn’t require a lot of effort.  It’s just a matter of making slight changes in how you present your content.  Sometimes, small changes can make a big difference in search engine rankings.

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