What User Behavior Data Does Google Use to Influence Search Rankings?

Although no one can ever be sure about what algorithms Google is using to determine search rankings, one thing is for sure – user behavior is increasingly becoming a factor. How internet surfers act while on your site or when searching for similar sites may well affect where Google places your site on the rankings.

What is User Behavior Data?

The most important thing Google uses for search rankings is and should always be, relevance to the search words. However, as the internet increases in size and competition becomes ever fiercer, other factors will need to be included when rankings are organized and one of these is user behavior. This includes the way people act while on your site or any other. User behavior is basically anything people do while online. So what kind of user behavior data does Google use?

There are a few things which seem to be important. Firstly, simple and obvious factors such as the time someone spends on a site. The more time users spend on a particular website, the more worth will be attributed to it. Other factors such as return visits are also important. Return visits show that users not only found their way to a site but that they also chose to come back to it. This is very important. You might have found a way to get millions of people to visit your site, but Google will assume they have found something valuable about it if they return. There are also other, seemingly tiny, elements involved, such as how long a user hovers the cursor over a search item.

Google 1

You may have noticed the Google+1 ‘Like’ button appears on more and more websites. This is another valuable user-behavior feature that can determine search rankings. For users, the +1 button is an opportunity to share and approve of sites they like. But for Google, the button is a clever way to determine the quality of sites and help prevent spam-type sites creeping their way up the rankings.

Google don’t like to give away their secrets, as we well know, but the Google taskbar and how users engage with it is probably another key way that rankings are affected by behavior

The bottom line is that along with the best SEO techniques, such as having relevant keywords, content quality and links, it is essential that your website is actually attractive, user friendly and encourages people to return. This is a good thing, as it means that the popularity of sites is driven by their quality and usefulness for the people who visit them.

Getting a site to rank highly is not easy; as there are many elements that you have go get right. How many users are drawn to your site and how frequently they return to it are key factors in how user-behavior data affects rankings. Further to this, the Google +1 button, which users can click to express their approval of sites that they feel are worth visiting, is used by Google to determine the value of many websites. Even the smallest detail, such as a user hovering over your listing, can affect ratings.

One thing is certain, though: the best SEO advice and guidance involves creating a website that draws people in, keeps them there and motivates them to return. Google may move in mysterious ways sometimes, but getting these basics right will definitely have a very positive effect on rankings.