Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from 126.96.36.199
it seems really clear to me that spam is still workingKeyword stuffing, doorway pages, duplicate content; all of it is working for my competitors.
Clinking on links shouldn't give any credit to the site if time on each page isn't long enough."Manufacturing" this user experience metric is incredibly easy: make the next page as cumbersome and convoluted as the previous one and put anything that resembles a link to the resource the visitor is looking for at the very bottom (or below the fold, anyway). That'll get you a second a two extra to fool any automated filter. A human being would have spotted this instantly but Google never had and never will have enough human beings to check on everything. Besides, some of the landing pages are (or purport themselves to be) about very complex subject in which you actually have to have some kind of understanding to realize that you are being fooled.
I'm not sure it's that easy to 'fake' engagement. From personal experience people only click on things if they really want to, so even if you try to 'fake' improved engagement by making people jump through more hoops, you'll only be successful if people really want what you appear to offer. If you tease people too much they'll lose interest and if you don't tease them well enough they won't be tempted to click.
but to obscure a 10 digit phone number
and yes, I've had the same thought you've had that they might be faking engagement.