Google has long said they don’t use CTR as a ranking factor, although they sometimes use it when doing experiments in the search results to judge quality of the serps.
The question came up (again) in today’s webmaster hangout, and John Mueller went into detail about what he sees as indirect benefits from CTR in the search results, and how it leads indirectly to other things, such as people sharing content because they clicked through to your site from the search results. But he also comments how CTR could also result in none of these benefits, depending on the site.
As far as I know, we don’t see that for web search. That’s something where what happens on your site is essentially up to your site. But the kind of indirect effects you would see on a website like that is something we might pick up.
Where if we see, for example, an affiliate site, people go to the affiliate site but then go to Amazon to actually buy the product there directly, then they’re not going to be recommending that affiliate site because there’s nothing unique that they can actually do there. So that’s kind of the data aspect that comes into play there and it’s not directly that we recognize that people are doing this weird jumping off to other sites, but its more the fact that people aren’t really recommending your website, they’re recommending someone else’s website.
So that’s something where if you had a great website and even if you have affiliate links on there for example, and you send people off to other sites to buy that, then if people still recommend your website, then that’s something that we can obviously count with regards to search signals.
This also shows that CTR wouldn’t be the best metric to rank sites in, because while a site might have a high CTR, it isn’t necessarily meeting the needs of the user, but perhaps another link on your page is – such as the link to actually purchase the product. But if CTR was used as a factor, it wouldn’t have the “bounce back and try another result” factor to weigh into this particular scenario.
However, I suspect many affiliates are perfectly happy with this scenario where they make the sale, even if someone later shares the Amazon landing page and not their page with the affiliate link. But it shows how some tweaking could make the experience better and result in shares with the potential for additional sales.
John did continue and addressed the Google Analytics issue and why Google doesn’t use it for a ranking signal.
While not directly ranking related, it is some food for thought for site owners, particular to think about how to supplement a decent CTR in the search results with additional social shares and links.
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