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Analyze Reader Engagement and Loyalty Via 9 Simple Ways

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Google Analytics is one of the most used tools by SEO experts but something seems to be missing with it. We have landing pages, all the traffic numbers with their sources, duration of the session but we don’t have one major thing which is reader engagement and loyalty. Metrics like the session duration, bounce rate, return or rate of visitors can’t really help show the full picture.

To find reader engagement, you have to analyze these values really hard. There is a reason that ‘engagement’ metric is not there in Google dashboard. Here’s what Avinash Kaushik, author of Web Analytics: An Hour A Day says about this:

The reason engagement has not caught on like wild fire (except in white papers and analyst reports and pundit posts) is that it is a “heart” metric we are trying to measure with “head” data, and engagement is such an utterly unique feeling for each website that it will almost always have a unique definition for each and every website.

The argument made by him seems sensible as engagement metric is not standard across all sites. Engagement metric for an e-commerce site  is different from that of a publisher site.

Though engagement metrics is missing from Google Analytics, it gives you some indicator that can help you analyze the level of reader engagement and loyalty.

Top 8 Metrics to Know the Reader Engagement And Loyalty

Indicators to help you analyze the reader engagement and loyalty are as follows

1. Bounce rate: Going in-depth

By bounce rate, you get to know about the number of people who leave your site from the same page they landed on. However, bounce rate has different implications for different sites. A high bounce rate on a blog signifies readers didn’t find it impressive. This is bad for your website!
Whereas a high bounce rate in an online store may not be considered too bad as it could mean that a user landed on the item they wished to buy and clicked through to the checkout. There is also a possibility that a visitor came looking for some information which he found and left.

What average bounce rates for different industries look like:bounce rate by industry

You should fix the bounce rate for your site if it is unreasonably high.

2. Session duration: demystifying it

Before we try to understand engagement rate via session duration, let us understand what is session duration and how can we find it?

Session duration is the length of the session in seconds.

  • Go to Audience
  • Then to behavior
  • Finally, to Engagement to find the Session Duration metric

engagementThe more time the readers spend on your site, the happier they are with the content of your site. Therefore, longer sessions are equivalent to higher engagement. This means that blog posts that are long should see better engagements. For instance, if you have written a 2000 word long blog post whose reader engagement is 60 seconds, then readers are not really reading what is being offered to them.

However, long session duration might not hold the same value for a subdomain on a site that deals with FAQs. A short session duration could be a good thing as it implies that readers might be coming and looking for help instructions, finding the solution, and fixing their problems.

Mostly, a longer session means more page views. To understand the level of engagement, you need to determine what the session duration stands for your site and accordingly estimate the engagement value.

3. Page depth: Site issue identification

Page depth means a number of pages that a user visits on your site beyond the page they landed on. In simple words, it is the page views and sessions.

High page depth

This generally means that content was engrossing to the reader and that it has motivated the reader to explore the site further.

However, if the visitors on your site just visit 1 or 2 pages, there is a need to find the reason behind their behavior. Therefore, you should start with reviewing the design of the site and navigation. This is because a poor navigation experience means low page depth values.

Another thing to be considered is internal linking. If your pages have poor internal linking, it could result in low page depth count. You can try to improve your page depth metric by adding internal links.

You also use page depth data to find the highly-visited pages on your site and optimize them accordingly in order to get high conversion rates on the basis of your site’s objectives.

Page depth of a blog and an eCommerce site:page-indepth

The page depth values are more for the e-commerce site because people browse through a lot of products.

4. New vs Returning metric: Analyze user interactions

With the help of new vs returning metric, you can analyze how the new as well as returning visitors interact with your site. There is a difference with how new and returning visitors engage with your site. Therefore, there are numerous ways in which you could use this engagement metric.

For instance, if your focus is on ads for revenue, after analyzing how your reader engage with your site, you might want to draw new traffic to double the clicks. However, in case of an impression-based revenue scheme, you might focus on building your email list and thereby, improving the rate of returning visitors.

5. Returning Visitor Rate (RVR)

RVR helps to determine the rate of return visitors to your website. Obviously, a high RVR means you are on the right track of bringing the visitors to your site.

Here is an easy formula for calculating the RVR metric given by Contently

“To calculate RVR, you just have to divide the number of return visitors to your website by the number of total unique visitors for a given period of time. In July, if you had 10,000 total visitors and 3,000 were repeat visitors, your RVR is 30 percent (3000/10,000 = .30).”

RVR which is above 30 shows that your content is engaging.

6. Interpretation of Frequency and Recency metric

With the frequency metric, you can get the number of sessions on which your users are. This means that returning users will have higher session numbers. Logically, all new visitors will be on their first session.

Whereas the recency metric tells about the number of days between the user sessions. You can use frequency metric to get a comparison between different seasons in order to gauge the change in visitor frequency. This can help you know the loyalty of customers coming to your site and how is the site performing at acquiring new ones.

7. Average pages/time on site metric

With average pages or time on site metric, you can have a broad idea of the engagement level of your audience. They mean different in different contexts.

For instance, a high average time on a site with low page views like would be a good indicator because it would mean that people are reading and consuming the content on the site. On the other hand, this might not have the same significance for a publisher site whose objective is to get more page views in order to make more ad revenue. The aim might not be to have a high average time.

Since the average pages/time on site are subjective in nature, therefore, you need to spend some time in order to analyze what you need your users to do.

8. Use of segments to find patterns

Undoubtedly, all the engagement metrics will show data across your site traffic. However, you can get a better insight by using segmentation. By segmenting engagement stats, you can identify patterns in a particular buyer/reader segment.

For instance, if you apply the new users segment to your page depth engagement field, you might see that new users show low page depth. This might help you explore the navigation problems with your site.

9. Using events to track content engagement

Wondering how many people read your posts? This scripted created by Justin Cutroni, Analytics Advocate at Google can help site owners measure content engagement via scroll function. The script can help you know the following things

  • Number of people scrolling
  • When they start to scroll
  • When they reach at the end of an article
  • When they reach the bottom of the page
  • Which website visitors are scanning your articles and which are reading them

scrollingYou can add this code to your Google Analytics. However, you have to keep one thing in mind that using this you can mess up your bounce rate and time on site metrics


Before you get into measuring the reader engagement as well as loyalty, you need to define the purpose of your site. If you don’t have a clear idea of what is expected from your readers, you won’t be able to track or measure the relevant metrics.

Said that, don’t get obsessed with tracking engagement since it is intangible. With the metrics discussed above, you will have an idea for estimating the level of engagement for your audience. It is important to keep an eye on these metrics to know how your readers interact with your site.

Which metrics you think will solve the purpose and help you get a clearer picture of readers engagement?

Photo Credits: Neil Patel Blog

Sakshi is a content marketer during the day and a reader by night. She writes content sprinkled with a twisted imagination. She has done her graduation in psychology from Delhi University and has an insane love for history.

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