More threads by CaribouFondue

CaribouFondue

Member
Joined
May 13, 2021
Messages
67
Solutions
3
Reaction score
8
Is on site user behaviour a ranking signal?

Metrics such as traffic, bounce rate, time on page, time on site, etc. seem to be a hotly debated topic weather or not they are a ranking signal in organic search. Sem rush claims it to be the #1 ranking factor, while others claim it has zero impact.

I find it a bit strange that these types of ranking factors were left out completely from the voting in the latest 2023 ranking factors by Whitespark. I assume that this means @whitespark has some reasons to beleive that they have been debunked (I would like to see these).

It seems like what some of my competition is doing is buying a lot of traffic with google ads, and this traffic could potentially be correlated with how well they are ranking.
1683648164218.jpg


Have you seen any studies or experiments on this? or has this been debunked? Anyone having success by running google ads to boost traffic and having this impact their local rankings as a consequence of the boosted traffic?
 
Solution
Hi Darren,

Thank you for the reply. The list does indeed cover quite a lot of behavioural patterns, but your reply does seem to evade my original point on the topic. None of the items in the 15 point list account for clicks from ads, nor do any of those items account for direct traffic. Google has confirmed previously that they use data from Google Chrome, so it is possible that they use overall traffic of a site as a ranking factor; logically it makes sense, a higher traffic site would be a more desirable search result.

What I am specifically looking for is a case study that someone has done with running google ads to increase their traffic and seeing if that does or does not have an impact on their local search rankings...
These signals were not left out of the local search ranking factors. These are all the behavioral signals. Here's a list of them from the LSRF:
  1. Click-Through from Search Results for Relevant Search Terms / from Geographically Relevant Locations
  2. Clicks to Call Business
  3. Click-Through Rate from Search Results (General)
  4. Driving Directions to Business Clicks
  5. In-store visits tracked by Android or Google Maps Mobile app location detection
  6. In-store visits tracked by third-party beacon or location detection technology
  7. Length of Dwell Time on GMB Landing Page
  8. Length of Dwell Time on GMB Listing
  9. Participation in Adwords, Adwords Express, Hotel Finder, or other paid Google products
  10. Quantity of Bookings Through Google Booking Partners
  11. Quantity of Engagement Signals on GMB Listing (scrolling through listing, clicking photos, reading reviews, reading Q&A, clicking on Posts, etc)
  12. Quantity of Messages Through Google My Business Messaging
  13. Quantity of Transactions Identified Through Credit Card Partners
  14. Sum of Transactions Identified Through Credit Card Partners
  15. Volume of Searches for Business Name
While I wouldn't call "traffic" a signal, I 100% believe that engagement/behavioral signals impact rankings.

Back in 2014, I ran a test where I hired hundreds of microworkers to search a keyword, scroll through the results to find a specific business, then click on it and spend time clicking around the listing. I had a script running that would check the rankings every 30 minutes for a few days and take a screenshot. Over the course of the 3 days, it moved up from position 20+ to position #1. I then put the screenshots into an animated gif so you could see it moving up. Super fun. I should do that test again..
 
Over the course of the 3 days, it moved up from position 20+ to position #1. I then put the screenshots into an animated gif so you could see it moving up. Super fun. I should do that test again..
Agree that tests should be ran again occasionally. We've seen some unexpected changes to what was thought to be well-established in the last year (including from one test you ran yourself!).
 
These signals were not left out of the local search ranking factors. These are all the behavioral signals. Here's a list of them from the LSRF:
  1. Click-Through from Search Results for Relevant Search Terms / from Geographically Relevant Locations
  2. Clicks to Call Business
  3. Click-Through Rate from Search Results (General)
  4. Driving Directions to Business Clicks
  5. In-store visits tracked by Android or Google Maps Mobile app location detection
  6. In-store visits tracked by third-party beacon or location detection technology
  7. Length of Dwell Time on GMB Landing Page
  8. Length of Dwell Time on GMB Listing
  9. Participation in Adwords, Adwords Express, Hotel Finder, or other paid Google products
  10. Quantity of Bookings Through Google Booking Partners
  11. Quantity of Engagement Signals on GMB Listing (scrolling through listing, clicking photos, reading reviews, reading Q&A, clicking on Posts, etc)
  12. Quantity of Messages Through Google My Business Messaging
  13. Quantity of Transactions Identified Through Credit Card Partners
  14. Sum of Transactions Identified Through Credit Card Partners
  15. Volume of Searches for Business Name
While I wouldn't call "traffic" a signal, I 100% believe that engagement/behavioral signals impact rankings.

Back in 2014, I ran a test where I hired hundreds of microworkers to search a keyword, scroll through the results to find a specific business, then click on it and spend time clicking around the listing. I had a script running that would check the rankings every 30 minutes for a few days and take a screenshot. Over the course of the 3 days, it moved up from position 20+ to position #1. I then put the screenshots into an animated gif so you could see it moving up. Super fun. I should do that test again..

Hi Darren,

Thank you for the reply. The list does indeed cover quite a lot of behavioural patterns, but your reply does seem to evade my original point on the topic. None of the items in the 15 point list account for clicks from ads, nor do any of those items account for direct traffic. Google has confirmed previously that they use data from Google Chrome, so it is possible that they use overall traffic of a site as a ranking factor; logically it makes sense, a higher traffic site would be a more desirable search result.

What I am specifically looking for is a case study that someone has done with running google ads to increase their traffic and seeing if that does or does not have an impact on their local search rankings.

Additionally I am interested to see if anyone has a case study on driving additional traffic to a site (via either social platforms, email campaigns, etc, anything other that via google search) and how this impacts local search rankings.

It seems pretty crazy to me that SEM Rush can claim direct website visits the number one organic ranking signal, but with local we aren't even talking about it.

-Adrian
 
Hi Darren,

Thank you for the reply. The list does indeed cover quite a lot of behavioural patterns, but your reply does seem to evade my original point on the topic. None of the items in the 15 point list account for clicks from ads, nor do any of those items account for direct traffic. Google has confirmed previously that they use data from Google Chrome, so it is possible that they use overall traffic of a site as a ranking factor; logically it makes sense, a higher traffic site would be a more desirable search result.

What I am specifically looking for is a case study that someone has done with running google ads to increase their traffic and seeing if that does or does not have an impact on their local search rankings.

Additionally I am interested to see if anyone has a case study on driving additional traffic to a site (via either social platforms, email campaigns, etc, anything other that via google search) and how this impacts local search rankings.

It seems pretty crazy to me that SEM Rush can claim direct website visits the number one organic ranking signal, but with local we aren't even talking about it.

-Adrian

I thought I addressed your point when I said I don't think that "traffic" is the signal.

The way I see it, it's the behaviors on your site that are the signals:
- How much time do people spend on the site? (imagine this like "total watch time" on a YT channel)
- How much time do people spend on specific pages?
- How many pages do people explore on the site?
- How many clicks are generated per unique visitor?

So, if you're sending extra traffic to your site via ads or social, then you're likely increasing all of those things.

I think that if I used some method to send thousands of unique visits to a local business site, but they all spend less than 3 seconds on the site. That would provide zero SEO benefit. In this scenario, I'm sending a ton of "traffic", but it's not helpful for SEO.

So I don't think that traffic on its own is a ranking signal, and that's why I haven't added it to the local search ranking factors. It's the user behavior that results from that traffic that has an impact, and I do have factors for those.

What do you think?
 
Solution
I thought I addressed your point when I said I don't think that "traffic" is the signal.

The way I see it, it's the behaviors on your site that are the signals:
- How much time do people spend on the site? (imagine this like "total watch time" on a YT channel)
- How much time do people spend on specific pages?
- How many pages do people explore on the site?
- How many clicks are generated per unique visitor?

So, if you're sending extra traffic to your site via ads or social, then you're likely increasing all of those things.

I think that if I used some method to send thousands of unique visits to a local business site, but they all spend less than 3 seconds on the site. That would provide zero SEO benefit. In this scenario, I'm sending a ton of "traffic", but it's not helpful for SEO.

So I don't think that traffic on its own is a ranking signal, and that's why I haven't added it to the local search ranking factors. It's the user behavior that results from that traffic that has an impact, and I do have factors for those.

What do you think?

Traffic is too noisy.
 
I thought I addressed your point when I said I don't think that "traffic" is the signal.

The way I see it, it's the behaviors on your site that are the signals:
- How much time do people spend on the site? (imagine this like "total watch time" on a YT channel)
- How much time do people spend on specific pages?
- How many pages do people explore on the site?
- How many clicks are generated per unique visitor?

So, if you're sending extra traffic to your site via ads or social, then you're likely increasing all of those things.

I think that if I used some method to send thousands of unique visits to a local business site, but they all spend less than 3 seconds on the site. That would provide zero SEO benefit. In this scenario, I'm sending a ton of "traffic", but it's not helpful for SEO.

So I don't think that traffic on its own is a ranking signal, and that's why I haven't added it to the local search ranking factors. It's the user behavior that results from that traffic that has an impact, and I do have factors for those.

What do you think?
Thank you for the clarification. :)
 
Seems like it, but nothing from the leak is definitive. Its presence in the docs is a strong indication that it's being used in the algorithm, but it's not a guarantee that its used, and there is no scoring or weighting.

It certainly makes me want to test though!
 

Login / Register

Already a member?   LOG IN
Not a member yet?   REGISTER

LocalU Event

LocalU Webinar

  Promoted Posts

New advertising option: A review of your product or service posted by a Sterling Sky employee. This will also be shared on the Sterling Sky & LSF Twitter accounts, our Facebook group, LinkedIn, and both newsletters. More...
Top Bottom