Does Google use clickthrough data for rankings? Says, yes on the BBC

Apparently, yes! As you can imagine I was somewhat surprised to have this (apparently) confirmed while listening to a BBC radio 4 programme about the issues of managing your reputation online.

While the programme runs over various topics about online reputation management, the interesting (for SEOs anyway) bit comes when Anthony House, who manages Google’s policy & strategy team in Europe, comes on. The journalist, Emma Barnett asks him about what factors make pages appear high up in search results, the response:

[superquote]”…the most important ones [ranking factors] are easy to keep in mind, how many people are clicking on it…”[/superquote]

Anthony House, Google 

If you want to hear precisely what he said, check out the podcast, the question and comment come in at 10:44.  Here’s the podcast: Do I have the right to be forgotten? (note, podcast not available for download at the time of writing and may not be available outside the UK BBC iPlayer for the podcast)

Now, is this rock solid evidence that clicks in SERPs are used for rankings? Maybe not, but I’d like to think that a Google employee responsible for  policy and strategy making a very public declaration would not be making assertions about how search works without knowing what he was talking about.

So, what does this mean for SEO? We have long known that how your pages appear in the SERPs is important. This ‘fact’ reinforces the value of ensuring you have an engaging meta description and a page title that encourages clicks rather than being stuffed with keywords.

Have you seen any feedback from Google or elsewhere that confirms or refutes the view that Google uses click-through rate in organic search as a ranking factor?


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