Website Visitors Affect Google Search Results

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Website Visitors Affect Google Search Results

As part of their endeavour to improve search results and eliminate artificial optimisation techniques, Google are looking to their own users to provide a reliable indication of the validity of their search results.

This might seem unusual at first, but we have seen this happening for a long time with AdWords, and we’ve always known that Google’s natural search algorithm penalizes websites that have a high bounce rate. Google have just become more sophisticated with their algorithm, and they have spread their reach much wider and deeper into the World Wide Web in order to be able to harness all the information at their disposal to their best advantage.

Google’s Sources Of Website Visitor Data

An Articles article from Nov 05 described how Google Analytics could be used by Google to obtain invaluable information about how visitors use a website and what keywords are bringing visitors to the site from the other search engines. Last week’s Articles article that spoke aboutGoogle search result snippets listed some of the places that Google collects website usage data from.

Google Analytics, Google search result links, Google AdWords sponsored links, Google Toolbar, Google Web Accelerator and all other Google software feed data back to Google’s servers about the websites users visited, the pages they viewed, the time spent on each page, the software and information downloaded, the links clicked, the keywords used to find the website, the most popular referring keywords from other search engines and the most popular referring websites and links.

Google’s Sources of Personal Internet Usage Data

Google’s privacy policy states that they collect user information to provide their full range of services. A user’s Internet usage data may be collected in the following ways:

  • Information users provide when signing up for a Google Account or other Google service or promotion
  • Google cookies
  • Log information recorded by Google’s servers, including web request, Internet Protocol (IP) address, browser type, browser language, the date and time of user request and one or more cookies that may uniquely identify the browser
  • User communications when processing inquiries
  • Affiliated sites that offer Google services such as AOL and Ask Jeeves
  • Links may be presented in a format that enables Google to keep track of whether these links have been followed.

Website Visitor Data Determines Google Search Results

Google’s privacy policy FAQ’s state that they use website visitor stats and personal Internet usage information to improve the quality of their services and for other business purposes. For example, Google can use this information to determine how often users are satisfied with the first result of a query and how often they proceed to later results. Similarly, Google can use this information to determine how many times an advertisement is clicked in order to calculate how much the advertiser should be charged.

As more website owners indulge in link spam and black hat search engine optimisation, Google have upped the ante and started using a metric that is more difficult to alter artificially. If visitors like the websites Google serves in the top search results, they will use it, and as a result, they will also continue to use Google since it provides them with relevant results. If visitors start clicking back or bouncing off a website in the search results, Google will automatically reduce its ranking, thereby ensuring visitors are not being served results that they themselves deemed to be irrelevant!