In my last blog, I talked about Web Visibility, which is the umbrella term we use for how people find your site through the web. That can include SEO, which is optimizing your site to make it easier for search engines like Google to find. It also includes paid web ads, social media, email, and finally having a great website. Now, when we talk about Web Visibility, it can get confusing because so many things are intertwined, and each subsection deserves a lot of attention of its own. However, across all of digital marketing there’s a base principal:
Content is King, Engagement is Queen
That’s not a new idea, and if you google the phrase you’ll find lots written about it. Most of the articles are over increasing engagement with your posts. However engagement is important in so many more areas than that for Web Visibility.
Social Media (But Mostly Facebook)
Social media is an obvious place where engagement is important, because it is VERY important on social media. Let’s take Facebook as an example. When one of your friends likes or comments on something, you will see it in your feed. The more activity the post has, the more likely you are to see it in the top of your feed, or see it come up multiple times on your feed. This sort of engagement keeps content in front of people who may not even be following the page it’s from, and who may have never seen it otherwise even if they were following that page.
You see, Facebook wants to refocus as a social site, not a wall of advertisements. This means its algorithms may not always favor your company’s posts. Two years ago, a study showed brand page posts reached an average of 16% of their followers, which then dropped to 6%. For brand pages larger than 500,000, the percentage is even lower. By 2016, the average page non-paid reach was under 2%.
When your followers see your post and like, comment, or share, Facebook is more likely to favor your post. Even paid posts benefit from this interaction. Social media platforms, like search engines, are trying to find the most relevant information to put in front of people in an increasingly competitive environment. Engagement is one of the ways these algorithms try to figure out what is important.
Paid Web Ads
When you search for something online, often the first few results are marked “Ad”. These are paid web ads. They’re sorted by how relevant they are, and how much budget they have to bid against other ads. For Google AdWords, ads first have to be approved by Google. Google ensures they do not lead to an unsafe site, or have misleading copy. For example, you can’t put up an ad for an ice cream shop if you actually own a shoe store; Google will knock you down before you even get out of the gate.
So between Google’s approval and the bidding, what does engagement have to do with these ads? Since ad placement is competitive, search engines still decipher whether or not an ad is relevant on its engagement. That means how many people are clicking on the ad, and how many people are taking action or looking around your site based off of your ad rather than bouncing right back off of your webpage. Google won’t ever stop showing your ads if you’re paying for them, but if you have three different versions of an ad in the same campaign, Google will look at which one performs the best and favor it, and it might get displayed higher in the page order because of it.
There are many factors that play into your website being recognized as legitimate and relevant by search engines. Your website’s size, age, and much more all play a part. Once again, engagement is a key element search engines look at when deciding where to place your site in the pages of results for every query. However, this doesn’t just include your reader’s engagement, it includes YOURS.
Yes, search engines look for whether or not readers are clicking around your site, how long they stay on pages, and whether or not they come back. Search engines are also looking to see whether or not you are interacting with the site. This includes keeping it up to date and growing it by adding new content. This is important. Websites won’t do well if they’re stagnant. Websites are meant to grow. In fact, they’re one of the best places for that to happen.
Anything you post on social media or other platforms can all disappear. Imagine you built your whole brand by posting your content only to Myspace back in the day. It’s often a good idea to post anything important you have to say on your website, then post it other places and have it link back to your website. Paid Web Ads and Social Media are great tools, but your website is yours.
How do I improve engagement?
While there are many tactics you can use to increase your engagement, it really comes down to how good your content is. That’s why it’s still king. Make sure you have your audience in mind while you write to increase readability. People want value from your content. That means taking a step back and making sure your content is focused on meeting their needs or entertaining. Too often companies seem to think that their posts on their sites need to be all about them. Stroking your own ego isn’t going to get anyone to engage. Focus on your audience and how you can uniquely speak to them, and just like the search engines, be willing to see what is performing well, and adapt.