User Engagement, can have a slightly different meaning depending on what context. In a commercial sense, user engagement is more about the measurement of whether users find value in a product or service. Highly engaged users are generally more profitable, provided that their activities are tied to valuable outcomes such as purchases, signups, subscriptions, or clicks. In a broader sense which arguably is more applicable to SEO, user engagement is more about any way a visitor to any of your digital properties (i.e includes social channels and not just your website) takes action on that platform instead of just browsing passively or exiting immediately to find a better source of information.
The first part of engagement SEO is ensuring your brand and website is found. So where search engine optimisation is focused on ensuring your website ranks highly in relevant searches. The engagement focus would then be on the CTR (Click through rate) and getting those users to click through to your website. This is where as a business you have the greatest brand/message control and analytical insight.
Bridging the Gap between Technical SEO and Engagement SEO
Where the focus is on engagement this can inform technical SEO aspects such as ensuring your meta titles and descriptions are engaging. Having pages with FAQs that have schema mark up can help take up more virtual real estate space on the SERPs and potentially encourage a click through. With search engines wanting to send their users to credible sources of useful information, using FAQs can be a powerful tactic. It's important to demonstrate to the search engines users are genuinely at the heart and forefront of your thinking. It's important to provide answers to your target audience's questions and a solution to their search.
It is probably not surprising that not all engagement happens on your website. In these social media times it is no surprise the importance that these social media platforms can play. Social Media may actually be the first place visitors see your content. Meaning this could be the first chance they have to interact with your content. They may interact by liking, sharing, retweeting, quote retweet, @ mentioning, reviewing etc.
Other offsite engagement factors may include:
Inbound links do seem to be a ranking factor. When someone feels your content is authoritative and useful enough to use it as a source for the piece they’re writing about a similar or related topic this can be quite powerful
Depending who you speak to, sharing on social media may be considered a ranking factor or may not. However, in regards to building a brand and acquiring brand ambassadors sharing on social media can be vitally important. Also, it can really help to drive greater levels of traffic to your website, encouraging more visitors, more links and more conversions.