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What is Engagement Rank and How to Leverage it for Ranking Benefits?

Engagement Rank is the new ranking factor for Google which measures the level and quality of user engagement before ranking any resource. The concept of engagement rank was first highlighted by Bruce Clay in 2012. It measures various factors present on a webpage like author of the resource, author rank, number of comments, number of social shares, author rank of users who posted a comment in the resource etc. We will dive deep into the metrics that make up the engagement rank and discuss the possibilities as to how we can leverage it to increase organic traffic to any site.

Have a look at the simplest definition of Engagement Rank:

"The metric that calculates the level of user engagement that any resource present on the web receives is known as Engagement Rank." 

The above definition makes it clear that user activity on any site is of vital importance for Google. Henceforth, the very first objective that any webmaster must have in order to make a  site popular is to serve the user well. Every other metric will fall into place if the user is satisfied and loves your site.

Various Components of Engagement Rank

The various components of user engagement rank are described below: 

1- Authorship

Authorship helps to associate content to a particular author. This helps Google to identify a real entity behind the created resource. The first step to start counting engagement is to reveal the person behind the resource. Google does it well with the help of the rel=author tag. (To learn more about how to implement authorship, visit this resource and to find out how authorship impacts ranking, read this tutorial.)

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2- Social Shares

The number and quality of social shares that the resource is able to generate is a direct measure of the engagement rank. Sites like Google Plus, Facebook, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, Twitter etc play a vital role in making this possible. Social world is a virtual world consisting of real world identities that behave in a manner similar as they would have behaved in a real world. A person sharing any resource in a social world and commenting on it is counted as a vote for the shared resource. Google has special algorithms in place which are impressive in calculating the amount of engagement any resource receives in social media sites.

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3- Comments

A popular resource is a talked about resource. Its more of a human nature to post a positive comment on the page that we like the most. Google counts it as a factor for judging the overall popularity of the page. The end result being, a popular resource is the one that receives a lot of comments. 

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4- Comment Quality

The quality of the comment posted on a resource matters the most. By comment quality, I mean to say the authority of the person posting the comment, the diversity of profiles who are posting the comments, the positiveness, the semantic relevancy of the profiles, the overall depth, the follow back on the posted comments, the replies etc all count to increase the overall comment quality.

5- Author Rank

A clear metric in making any resource stand apart in the crowd, is the author rank, also known by the name agent rank. Author rank is a metric that calculates the overall reputation and trust factor associated with any author who creates the resource. 

Author rank bears a direct relation to the overall engagement the resource will receive. A person with a high agent rank will generally receive more comments as compared to the person having a lower rank.

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6- Diversity in Social Shares

Google does not counts only the number of social shares. In stead, it counts the diversity in social shares. By diversity, I mean the variety of profiles used in the overall social shares the content receives. If the same person is sharing the resource again and again then that won't get counted as a stronger metric as compared to different people sharing the same resource along with their own personalized comments.

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7- Profile Rank of Social Profiles Involved in Sharing

Not only the diversity but the overall popularity of the profiles involved in the social sharing gets counted. If the content is liked and shared by an industry expert then that content is set to be given a high priority by Google as compared to the resource that is shared by many people but having low social profiles scores.

8- Quality of Domains Pointing to the Resource

Backlinks too gets counted in the measurement of the engagement rank. A popular resource is the most linked to content and therefore the number and quality of backlinks matters here. The number of referring domains and the domain authority of the respective referring domains is a great metric to judging the overall importance of any content.

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9- Bounce Rate

Google takes into account metrics such as bounce rate while reviewing the overall engagement rank. Generally, any content that is read and liked by users has a lower bounce rate as compared to the one with a high bounce rate where people immediately leave the site from the landing page itself.

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10- Direct Traffic

A loved-to resource need not be dependant on search engines for receiving traffic. People visit a site often directly if they love the content or services they provide. Google keeps a track of this through its Analytics platform or Chrome browser and uses it as one of the metrics for the calculation of engagement rank.

11- Referral Traffic

Traffic can come by way of referral sites as well. The more users visit a site, the better the chances of engagement and higher is the overall rate.

12- Time on Site

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Similar to the bounce rate, the time on site is also a metric that helps to unleash the visitor retention potential of any website. The higher the time spent by the visitor on the site, the higher is the engagement metric.

13- Semantic Relevancy

Many people are still confused as to how semantic relevancy is associated with the engagement rank. Well, let me provide an example to make things more clear. Suppose, you are having a webpage related to Chinese food and the page receives shares and comments by people expert in making Italian food then the semantic relevancy for the page would be less. The reverse will happen if the resource gets shared and commented by expert Chinese recipe makers. Hope that strikes gold for you!

Also See:

3 Seo Fundamentals Every Webmaster Should Follow
Seo Secrets
Seo Tutorial
Importance of Content for Seo in Post Panda World
What is Good Content?