User signals when interacting with a search query result have a positive correlation with that listing’s search ranking, according to a new report from Searchmetrics. The 2014 Ranking Factors Study examined user signals for the first time this year, coming away with valuable insights into how user engagement affects the SEO of a website and its pages.
The report also highlighted the top five search engine rankings based on data from 2014, providing some guidance as to how marketers should approach SEO in 2015. At the top of that list was content, which continues to be the cornerstone of any digital marketing strategy.
“High-quality, relevant content ranks better on average and is identifiable by properties such as comprehensive wording in regard to the co-occurrence of related terms in the context, a higher word count, and media enrichment,” the report says.
Technology and backlinks ranked second and third on the list, respectively, as the technical performance of a website and its various SEO infrastructure elements continue to influence how Google and other search engines value a Web property. Social signals ranked fourth, with the value of this attribute decreasing slightly in 2014 (while still remaining a vital component of SEO).
Coming in fifth was user signals, a new measurement in the annual Searchmetrics report. The study found that metrics such as click-through rates, time spent on site, and bounce rates can greatly influence whether a search listing moves up or down in its ranking.
This means marketers can use their own site performance—and related marketing campaign performance—to assess how user engagement might be affecting SEO. User signals can profoundly influence search engine rankings; the study found that the highest-ranking URL experienced a click-through rate of 32 percent, while the 10th-highest URL was far off that performance clip at just 3 percent.