What makes a good link?
Stephen opens with this question. What is a good link? A good link is one that exists not just for SEO. There is a value outside of the link.
Now ask yourself this question; why would I implement AMP? The answer to that question is ‘because it’s good for SEO’. But it is the future for the user? The future isn’t just 2020, it’s Q3 2017. If you do it right now, you’re creating a problem for yourself in a month’s time when it breaks, or in two years’ time when it gets shut off. You’re making yourself vulnerable by implementing something that only exists for SEO.
He gave the example of 2012, when Dr Pete suggested we need to optimise for CTRs and dwell time. Then Danny Sullivan probed Google and they said it wasn’t necessarily a ranking factor. But the fact was, better CTRs and dwell time meant more money, better engaged users and better experiences.
So we didn’t care if it helped rankings. We did it anyway. And hey, spoiler alert – now CTRs and dwell time are ranking factors!
Stephen shared one of his blog posts, which was nearly 3,000 words long. It was good content, but it wasn’t the most engaging.
He asked their designer to make the page more engaging. They redesigned the lists, they added colour, for some reason they added birds (!). Then, they used paid social to push traffic to both and drove thousands of visits to each.
They don’t trust Google Analytics, so they used GTM to set a trigger to fire a timer to see how long they’d been on, and to see how far they scrolled.
They also fired an event to see when people got to the bottom, and where in the page they got to.
If you want to track scroll depth, try scrolldepth.parsnip.io.
They found that the new design was actually a huge disaster. They made it indexable and it dropped its rankings. They left it 3 weeks, the rankings didn’t come back. They returned to the old style, and the rankings were restored.
Spending 10x more time on your content doesn’t make it 10x better.
Employing a designer isn’t a tick box for engagement.
Bounce rate isn’t a useful signal.
Another experiment Stephen ran for his website. He loves Digiday and their ‘too long didn’t read’ feature (TLDR).
They’ve started implementing this into their own blog posts.
The thing is, when they did this, they reduced the engagement with that page.
So instead, they decided to add a video or podcast at the beginning of each post. This improved dwell time, but still gave the user something useful and distilled the main information for them.
The inclusion of rich media seems to be helping their rankings overall.
Think about the users, not the search engines.