Let’s face it. What influences Google ranking the most? Some will say that it is good contents, some will tell you it is authoritative backlinks and yet some other will emphasize on social media signals.
I can’t agree more with them because these factors are all effective. But there is one thing that nobody usually talks about and that has even been praised as the number one ranking factor, that is surprisingly click through rate!
Before starting any debate, let me tell you first that it is not my saying. One day morning I opened up my email and found this shock sent by Attracta as one of its users and followed by this video.
That was it when I started digging into this matter to see if this is for real or not, and soon to realize that it is one of controversy that is ever going because of not getting any clear statement from Google to date.
This topic could have been easily thrown away but haven’t yet because some strong evidence signal positive relations of click through rate with seo.
To answer the question now, “Is CTR really a ranking factor used by Google?”, I would say maybe yes, it is. Maybe I am sure too that you are going to be questioning me “How?”. Don’t worry I have collected the evidence already.
Evidence #1: Search clicks and queries influence search ranking
People have doubts in the early days that search clicks may or may not impact ranking. But a recent study has added a new dimension to this matter on the positive side.
Rand Fishkin of Moz did this experiment to see how influential search clicks are in ranking position. He took this post that was about “IMEC Lab”, invited around 175-250 people to search on Google using query “IMEC Lab” and to click that page’s result.
Then the real magic happened! The page moved from #7 position to #1 within just 3 hours!
Rand made a confession himself whether it is low or high, permanent or transient, click through rate (ctr) do impacts on search ranking.
Evidence #2: Google watches user clicks to evaluate search results
We were heartily believing in what authority says and still do. Because their sayings have a base and they have not become authoritative in a day. They have attained the wealth of experiences and earned everyone’s trust.
What if a well-known person of the seo industry says click through rate affects Google ranking? Yes, that did happen, Danny Sullivan, a popular search engine reporter stats in Twitter that Google watches clicks to evaluate results quality.
Google confirms watching clicks to evaluate results quality. FYI Google still won't say if clicks used as rank signal pic.twitter.com/jzNGc5reQk
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) March 25, 2015
— Rand Fishkin (@randfish) March 25, 2015
Rand also confirms that based on his early experiment that was very much positive. Though Google has confirmed watching clicks to weigh ranking, they didn’t seem to concede it at all as a ranking factor.
Evidence #3: Click and visit data to rank results is reasonable and logical
Google said nothing from his own mouth about this matter, but Google’s former search quality employee, Edmond Lau said something valuable that makes sense.
(a) Click and visit data to rank results is a very reasonable and logical thing to do, and ignoring the data would have been silly.
(b) Infrequently clicked results should drop toward the bottom because they’re less relevant, and frequently clicked results bubble toward the top.
Evidence #4: AJ Kohn of Blind Five Year Old will do the rest
When researching this issue, I came across AJ Kohn’s article that was similar of this post but packed with lots of histories, more evidence and his opinion.
It was so resourceful that I can’t resist myself from declaring this post as an evidence itself. So your next step would be, go and check that article to explore further proofs.
His collected evidence totally say that click through rate is having impacts on search results but I personally love his opinion because this is just a game of possibility:
Looking at it all together and applying Occam’s Razor I tend to think the click-through rate is used as a ranking signal. I don’t think it’s a strong signal but it’s a signal none the less.
It is unofficially confirmed and tested as well that click through rate is being used as a scale to define the search engine ranking position.
I think it makes good sense and why not. Google can easily determine using this signal (with the help of some other user behavior factors) how valuable a web page is, how frequently people are going to that page and staying.
User behavior monitoring would be a revolutionary step for search engines to improve user experience and who knows they might have already been using it behind the scene!
Neglecting this fact is surely a big loss from both search engines and search marketers. When we can utilize our pages for higher ctr, why not just go and do that.
➣ But remember: Google is not at all dumb as you think
As CTR does influence ranking, why not click our own results and why not set up a bot to click on the results to boost ranking?
This isn’t going to happen in this way because if they use this signal, they also have backup signals to filter out only the best of results, otherwise this algorithm could be easily faked.
If they are focused on tracking user behavior to measure SERP, they might be using the following factors to do this task more accurately:
- Pogo Sticking: If a user searches on Google, clicks into a result but quickly comes back to the search results page for not getting his problem solved, that is called Pogo Sticking.
- Dwell Time: This signal determines how longer a user stays in a search result’s website and how many of them don’t come back to the search result’s page to try another website.
- Bounce Rate: This signal determines how many users go to a website from search results and leave the website without visiting any second page.
So no luck with faking it, you better work on genuinely earning them by developing your practices! One effective tactic for improving click through is optimizing titles. I have already covered this topic how to write good blog titles that you may want to check.
So what do you say about it?
If you compare all the proves, the results will be straight that yes, click data significantly affects ranking, though that has not be named officially as a ranking factor.
Let’s just forget this for a moment, CTR optimization can gain you more social media shares, more reads to your content and better outcomes. So I think it is a win-win for both situations.
What do you think is click through rate really a google ranking factor or how does it impact search ranking? Let the controversy going!
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