Website KPIs and the Dynamics of Zero Click
The new realities of zero-click search and zero-click visitors are upending the long-standing key performance indicators (KPIs) that had helped to gauge the effectiveness of websites.
Let’s first look at the traditional website KPIs which have provided insight into user behavior and levels of engagement.
- Number of visitors. This metric can be used to gauge the overall reach of a website from different traffic sources, such as organic search, social media, paid campaigns, and referrals.
- Ratio of new to returning visitors. The ratio of new and returning visitors is viewed as an indicator of the quality of content of the site. While a higher ratio of returning users is generally viewed as a positive indicator, the way Google Analytics recognizes visitors can skew results.
- Session duration. The length of time that visitors remain on a website or specific webpage has traditionally served as a significant indicator of user engagement and quality content.
- Bounce rate. Bounce rate measures the percentage of visitors who leave a website after visiting only one page.
- Exit rate. This metric indicates the percentage of visitors who exit the site after visiting a particular page.
New Search Dynamics
Google and other search engines have developed advanced algorithms that allow them to accurately deliver search results directly in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). These advances have significantly changed search behaviors. Whether you have a Drupal website, a WordPress website, or using another CMS platform it is important to design and optimize your website for these new developments.
What is Zero-Click Search?
Zero click search refers to search results that appear on top of the SERP and answer the search query without the need to click any further. The answer can appear as a direct answer, a snippet of the content from the web page, and sometimes a considerable depth of information.
As a result, users often no longer need to visit a website to get their questions answered.
The complicating factor, however, is the impact on KPIs. Your site could be ranking for a featured snippet on the SERP, but the search might not result in a visit to your site.
Who Are Zero Click Visitors?
Another advancement in Google search is the direct routing to the specific page of a website that answers a search query. This streamlines the search process, but again, it can complicate multiple KPIs, such as pages per session, session duration, and bounce rate, when visitors can quickly get the piece of information that they need without having to scroll through pages or click through your site.
When questions get answered in an efficient manner, there is a tendency for visitors to spend less time on the site and not find themselves scrolling through multiple pages, and instead, close the browser and move on. One quick visit website can reflect a “Zero-Click” visitor on website stats because they only landed on one page, scrolled down a minute or two, and then left, even though the information on the website was helpful. This all factors into the bounce rate of the site, the average session duration, and the exit rate of the page.
How Do Zero-Click Visitors Affect Your Website’s KPIs?
Zero-click visitors can have a negative impact on your KPIs in ways that include:
- High-Bounce Rates. This means that people are leaving your site after landing on page.
- Low Average Session Duration. This means that the visitor left your site quickly because they didn’t find what they need.
- High Exit Rate. This tells you how many people left your site after visiting a specific page.
These stats are traditionally associated with low-engagement to your site, but with the advent of zero click search and the rise of zero-click visitors, it can be difficult to separate the non-engaged visitors who don’t find your content helpful from the zero-click visitors who find exactly what they need.
How to Optimize Low Engagement Pages
Differentiating pages that are generating zero click traffic and zero engagement are important to help you maximize the opportunity to convert site visitors into leads. Optimizing pages for zero click users have a different approach to pages that have inherently low engagement.
Optimizing pages with low engagement has a different approach to optimizing pages for zero-click traffic. Most pages with low engagement often are ranking low or not ranking at all, this means that they rarely generate traffic organically.
The best way to increase engagement for these pages is to apply Search Engine Optimization (SEO) best practices.
Optimize for mobile devices. Google is pushing for wider adoption of mobile usability, which means that mobile-friendly sites rank higher than non-mobile-friendly sites, because mobile usability is a major factor in ranking for the SERP.
- Improve Page Loading Times. Google’s recommended page load time is at least three seconds. Page loading time is also a major factor for ranking in the SERP. Page load times also affect bounce rate as slow page load times discourage web visitors from visiting your site if they are waiting for it to load for too long.
- Improve Site Navigation. Your bounce rate and session duration are negatively affected if your users don’t know where to go after they landed on the first page. Improving the site navigation can go a long way in improving user experience, which helps encourage web visitors to visit other pages of your website.
- Improve Internal Linking. One of the best ways to encourage visitors to visit and discover pages on your site is through internal linking. Linking relevant pages to each other helps reduce the bounce rate of your site.
Optimizing Pages for Zero-Click Traffic
Pages with zero-click traffic are different from pages with inherently low-engagement in a number of factors. These pages tend to rank high on a number of keywords and generate moderate to high traffic but have high bounce rates, exit rates, and low click rates.
These pages have a high potential for conversion and our job is to make it easy for web visitors to convert by optimizing the webpages. The best way to encourage web visitors to convert is to provide them with an incentive to do so, this could mean providing guides, downloadable content, special offers, and even personalized reports that they can use when they leave your website. This means that all webpages in your site should be treated as a landing page but the challenge is not to bombard visitors with too many calls to action (CTAs) or pop-ups that can potentially turn them off from your page or your site. Here some specific strategies for doing so:
- Strategically place forms and CTAs: One of the best ways to improve engagement and conversion on the site is to make it easy for web visitors who are ready to convert. The trick is to balance the forms and CTA to not clutter your site or distract other visitors, while remaining accessible to visitors who are interested.
- Provide downloadable versions of long-form blogs or other content: Having downloadable versions of your long-form content for your site will provide resources for visitors who want a downloadable option that they can take offline. Always make sure that your downloadable assets have links back your website to make it easier for them to find your website.
- Provide a balance of gated and non-gated resources: Some visitors are not ready to share their email without getting something in return first, providing them with freely accessible content will go a long way in earning the trust of visitors who are not yet ready to commit to sharing their email.
- Highlight a curated list of your best blogs or content: Sometimes prospects and web visitors are not yet convinced with a one well-written blog, so we suggest adding a carousel or curated list of your best blog or related content to make it easier for them to discover more informative content.
- Work on your blog taxonomy or blog tags: Accurately using blog taxonomies for Drupal sites or blog tags for WordPress will make it easier for web visitors to find the right content based on the subject they are interested in. This will also help visitors discover new relevant pages that are not yet ranking high in Google’s search results.
- Install on-site search: On-site search is an internal feature that can be added to Drupal, WordPress, or other CMS platforms, that allows users to search content from within your website. This is a great feature that allows the user to directly search what they need without going through a lot of trouble navigating menus and sub-menus. Having an on-site search is also a great way to gain further insight to user behavior by tracking frequent search terms through Google Analytics.
These are just some of the best-practices to help you take advantage of increasing conversion to pages with high-traffic but with low-engagement.
Always Be Optimizing for SEO
Google and other search engines continuously update their search algorithms and because of this, what works well today may not work well next year or even next month. Take for example, keywords. When keywords were a major factor for ranking, everyone focused on stuffing as many keywords as possible in their blogs and pages. Google is now more focused on quality content mobile usability.
That is why we always recommend ongoing Search Engine Optimization to help keep your website updated for any changes in search engine algorithms. Interested in further expertise or consultation to keep your web strategy aligned with the constantly evolving world of SEO? Contact us today.