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Can Google Analytics data affect ranking?

One thing that could really help in creating a better search engine, especially on a personalised basis, would be to know what people actually do when they click on a search result. How interesting did people find the site they were sent to? Did they download things, make enquiries, or buy stuff? Of course, the search engines don’t know.

Except… Google not only runs the biggest search engine, it also runs the biggest website visitor analytics application. So it can track what people are doing on millions of websites. And therefore it could follow what people do when they click on search results.

However, there’s no evidence that this is what’s done, even in some of the many recent revelations that Google has been compelled to make in legal proceedings. And the company has consistently stated that it does not use ‘behavioural factors’ for ranking, outside of any of the page experience metrics it can see in its crawling. This would make sense; while I’m sure Google can (and does) use behavioural data in modelling how people use the web, knowing what they do on some sites but not others would be hard to integrate into search ranking.

Many experts will forever remain cynical about claims from companies like Google, but from our point of view as website owners, I genuinely don’t think it’s going to affect our ranking whether or not we use Google Analytics and Google Search Console.