No doubt about it, everyone wants to be at the top of Google SERPs. Actually, it is like a war and that’s why we all want to find ways to achieve higher rankings on Google and other search engines.
But getting to the top of Google rankings on search engine result pages is not as easy as eating cake.
It’s a process that changes constantly because Google updates its ranking factors periodically. This is why it’s not as easy as some people may have thought.
Therefore, for you to be able to get the best of you search engines and search results, you have to always keep yourself updated and stay on top of the game.
User metrics that make a difference in Google rankings
So, what makes a difference in Google rankings and search engine results? In one of its recent blog posts, Link-Assistant helped us to understand changes in Google rankings algorithm and process.
I am an avid user of Link-Assistant website and I must confess that it’s not only one of the best sources for SEO tools for link building and backlink analysis, it’s also a good place to be in order to keep yourself up-to-date on anything SEO.
Their SEO Powersuite offers search engine optimisation tool that makes SEO easy and affordable. This SEO PowerSuite contains four distinct SEO tools namely: Rank Tracker, SEO SpyGlass, WebSite Auditor and Link Assistant. It is one of the most complete set of effective SEO tools that is absolutely enough to achieve and maintain top traffic–generating positions in any search engine.
Below are 3 essential user metrics that make a difference in Google rankings according to a recently posted article on Link-Assistant blog:
#1). Click-through rate
It is clear from numerous patents filed by Google that they collect and store information on click-through rates of search results. A click-through rate is a ratio of the number of times a given search listing was clicked on to the number of times it was displayed to searchers.
There isn’t, of course, such a thing as a universally good or bad CTR, and many factors that affect it are not directly within your control. Google is, of course, aware of them.
To start with, there’s presentation bias. Clearly, SERP CTR varies significantly for listings depending on where they rank in search results, with top results getting more clicks.
According to Google…
“The basic rationale embodied by this approach is that, if a result is expected to have a higher click rate due to presentation bias, this result’s click evidence should be discounted; and if the result is expected to have a lower click rate due to presentation bias, this result’s click evidence should be over-counted.”
Secondly, different click-through rates are typical for different types of queries. For every query, Google expects a CTR in a certain range for each of the listings (e.g. for branded keywords, the CTR of No.1 result is around 50%; for non-branded queries, the top result gets around 33% of clicks).
As we can see from Rand Fishkin’s test mentioned above, if a given listing gets a CTR that is seriously above (or below) that range, Google can re-rank the result in a surprisingly short time span.
One other thing to remember is that CTR affects rankings in real time. After Rand’s experiment, the listing users were clicking and dwelling on eventually dropped to position No. 4 (right where it was before). This shows us that a temporary increase in clicks can only result in a temporary ranking improvement.
#2). Dwell time
Another thing that Google can use to modify rankings of search results, according to the patents, is dwell time. Simply put, dwell time is the amount of time that a visitor spends on a page after clicking on its listing on a SERP and before coming back to search results.
Clearly, the longer the dwell time the better — both for Google and for yourself. Google’s patent on modifying search results based on implicit user feedback says the following user information may be used to rank pages:
According to Google…
“The information gathered for each click can include: (1) the query (Q) the user entered, (2) the document result (D) the user clicked on, (3) the time (T) on the document […]. The time (T) can be measured as the time between the initial click through to the document result until the time the user comes back to the main page and clicks on another document result. In general, an assessment is made about the time (T) regarding whether this time indicates a longer view of the document result or a shorter view of the document result, since longer views are generally indicative of quality for the clicked through result.”
Google wants searchers to be satisfied with the first search result they click on (ideally, the No.1 result). The best search experience is one that immediately lands the searcher on a page that has all the information they are looking for, so that they don’t hit the back button to return to the SERP and look for other alternatives.
Bouncing off pages quickly to return to the SERP and look for another result is called pogo-sticking.
According to Google…
“Additionally, the user can select a first link in a listing of search results, move to a first web page associated with the first link, and then quickly return to the listing of search results and select a second link. The present invention can detect this behaviour and determine that the first web page is not relevant to what the user wants. The first web page can be down-ranked, or alternatively, a second web page associated with the second link, which the user views for longer periods or time, can be up-ranked.”
Good performance in terms of clicks and viewing times isn’t just important for the individual page (and query) you are going after. It can impact the rankings of your site’s other pages, too. All of this affects your website’s overall quality score.