Businesses have websites for a reason. When created strategically, a website can be a business’s best sales tool. But that will only happen if the content gets site visitors to engage. High site traffic doesn’t mean much if most visitors leave without taking any action.
A low website engagement rate is a big red flag that demands your attention. If left uninvestigated and unresolved, the money you’re pouring into the marketing channels that drive traffic to your site is mostly for naught. It’s like attracting a long line of customers to your business’s front door only to see them step inside, take a quick look around and immediately turn around and leave.
In this article, we’ll start by touching briefly on what website engagement rate is, how to find it within Google Analytics and why it replaced bounce rate as a key Analytics metric. Then, we’ll dive into some of the primary reasons your website engagement rate may be low. You can take what you learn and make changes to your site that will increase engagement, which will in turn help you generate more leads and increase revenue.
What is Website Engagement Rate?
Website engagement rate is a metric that measures the percentage of visitors who interact with the content on a site. This includes things like clicking a link/button, submitting a form or spending a significant amount of time on a page.
Google calculates engagement rate by taking the number of engaged sessions and dividing it by the total number of sessions over a specified period. Multiply it by 100 to get the percentage. For example, if you had 2,000 engaged sessions and 2,500 total sessions, your engagement rate would be 80%. Calculation: (2,000 ÷ 2,500) x 100.
For Google to consider a session as engaged, the user must do at least one of the following:
- Stay on the page for 10 seconds or longer
- View more than 1 page
- Trigger a conversion event
What is a Good Engagement Rate?
A good or acceptable engagement rate will vary depending on things like the industry, site content, company goals and more. One study found that B2B websites should have an engagement rate above 63% while B2C websites should have an engagement rate above 71%.
In general, an engagement rate that is 50% or lower is a signal that either changes need to be made or something is broken within Google Analytics. And because it’s not realistic for nearly every website visitor to engage, a rate of 90% or higher is also a signal that something might be broken.
Where Can I Find Engagement Rate in Google Analytics?
To locate your engagement rate in Google Analytics, go to Reports > Acquisition > Traffic acquisition.
You can view your engagement rate for each channel.
Why Did Engagement Rate Replace Bounce Rate?
In March 2022, Google announced that Universal Analytics would be phased out in favor of Google Analytics 4. This was a hot topic among marketers and not something to be taken lightly, so we explained why the change was taking place and detailed how to prepare for the transition before the switch occurred in July 2023.
Among the major things marketers noticed after they got familiar with GA4 was that the bounce rate metric was missing. Bounce rate refers to the percentage of visitors that “bounce” (leave a website) after viewing just one page.
Shifting the focus to engagement rate was a way to address some pitfalls with bounce rate. For example, a user would previously have been counted as a bounce if they only viewed a single page… even if they spent 10 seconds or longer on the page or triggered a conversion event. This would be a negative with bounce rate as the metric of record but is a positive with the shift to engagement rate.
It makes sense to highlight the positive aspect of having a website that encourages people to engage. By focusing on engagement rate, you can:
- Assess the performance of your content
- Analyze the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns
- Identify opportunities for improvement
- Measure user satisfaction
- Increase conversions
Why is Your Engagement Rate Low?
Now that we’ve provided some background, we’ll share insight that will help you if you discover red flags when reviewing your Analytics data. Below is a roundup of some of the common reasons website engagement rate is low.
Slow Loading Site
Site speed is important to visitors and Google alike. If a webpage is slow to load, a user won’t stick around for long. They’ll bail without engaging and look for the information they’re seeking elsewhere.
Google recognizes that people want to get answers quickly, which is why the company has put a lot of effort into its featured snippets. It’s also why it rewards sites that load quickly with a higher ranking in the search engine results page (SERP) while knocking sites that load slowly down the list.
There are various tools you can find online to test your site’s speed and get recommendations for improving it.
A study found that it only takes 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds) for users to form an opinion about your website that determines whether they like your site or not and whether they’ll stay or leave. Your site’s design needs to almost instantly make a positive impression.
If a user forms a negative impression of your site’s design, you can bet they won’t stick around for 10 or more seconds to count as engaged. It’s not just a matter of design taste, either. Many people base a company’s credibility on how its website looks. If your website causes them to have a negative impression of your business, it’s safe to assume they’ll seek one of your competitors instead.
If your website hasn’t been updated in a while and you suspect it’s negatively affecting your engagement, hire an experienced web design team to freshen it up with a more appealing look.
Bad User Experience (UX)
If the design of your website doesn’t cause users to leave, bad user experience (UX) will. Many things negatively affect someone’s experience with your site. They include:
- Confusing navigation
- No search box
- Too many pop-ups and ads
- Readability issues
- Audio or video that auto-plays
If any of these apply to your site, address them as soon as possible by enlisting the support of a web design team. This doesn’t mean you can’t utilize an occasional pop-up or ad; they are calls to action (CTAs) that invite engagement after all. Just use them strategically on pages where a user is most likely to engage with them.
It’s a mobile world and people frequently surf the web from their phones. If your website doesn’t accommodate those users, they’ll bounce before having time to engage.
A website that isn’t mobile-friendly will look clunky and be difficult to navigate. Plus, it likely will load more slowly than a site optimized for mobile. Google also utilizes mobile-first indexing, which means your site won’t rank if it’s not built with mobile users in mind. There are tools you can find online that will help you identify mobile-related issues. A web designer can also help you identify issues and get them resolved.
This is an obvious one. If your page has some kind of technical error that causes it to be blank or not load at all, there’s nothing for the user to engage with and no reason to stick around. This can be identified in your Analytics if a page has an unusually low engagement rate and visitors leave after just a few seconds.
Check the page(s) in question and remember to test on various popular devices and browsers to ensure it’s not working in one situation and broken in another. If you can’t identify and fix the issue yourself, get help from an expert.
Misleading Title Tag/Meta Description
A well-written, SEO-optimized title tag and meta description can help your site rank well and generate traffic. However, it will backfire if the tag and/or description are misleading.
If this is the case, visitors will land on your webpage thinking it’s about one thing, and they’ll leave quickly once they realize it’s actually about another. Whether or not a misleading title tag or meta description was the result of an innocent mistake or a deceptive practice doesn’t matter. It will come across as clickbait and reflect poorly on your company.
Double-check the title tags and meta descriptions of any pages that have low engagement rates and see if they accurately reflect the content on those pages. If they don’t, edit or completely rewrite them for accuracy. It doesn’t hurt to cover your bases and check all pages, even if the engagement rate is fine right now.
Low-Quality or Unoptimized Content
Would you stick around on a webpage that has content that is poorly written or inaccurate? Highly unlikely. Then don’t expect your visitors to act any differently. They don’t want to slog through a site that is littered with copy errors, too technical, too full of jargon or just plain boring.
Consider how the content is (or isn’t) optimized as well. Even well-written content can be abandoned if it’s too challenging to get through. Online readers want content that:
- Is written with simple sentences (high school level instead of PhD level)
- Is easy to scan with plenty of relevant header tags
- Includes copy breaks and images (large blocks of text are hard on the eyes)
- Follows Google’s concept of E-E-A-T (experience, expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness)
- Is entertaining or enjoyable to consume
To get an accurate assessment of your website’s content, consult an honest customer, colleague or friend (one with a background in content marketing or copywriting is a plus). They can identify areas for improvement. Then, update the content accordingly or hire a copywriter or content marketing expert to help.
Asking For Too Much
It can be tempting to act fast and try to force engagement, if not conversions (micro or macro), before you lose the visitor. But that can be counterproductive.
Bombarding someone with requests to subscribe to your newsletter, download a lead magnet or request a quote — especially with in-your-face pop-ups — can turn them off and make them want to exit your site.
Be patient and save those requests for pages tailored specifically for warm or hot leads. Go after those conversions only after you’ve given them enough time to consume some of your content first and start to trust you.
Start Boosting Your Website Engagement Rate Today
In this article, we covered some of the common reasons companies experience low engagement rates with their websites. Now that you’re familiar with them, you can dive into the Analytics of your site and identify pages where you’re not getting the engagement you expected. You can address those issues and get the results you hope for. Have additional questions about engagement rate or want to learn even more? Call us at 815.431.1000 or submit this form to contact us. You can also visit the Web Design & Development section of our blog.