A handful of times someone has asked me “Do click through rates (CTR) affect SEO or rankings in Google search results?” My question back is “Why wouldn’t they?”

If your company (Google)’s entire goal in life is to deliver people to a good resource, wouldn’t you measure CTR? CTR and bounce rate data is right there in Webmaster Tools, so, obviously they are measuring it. Think about it. Let’s say you search for “how to build a treehouse” and you click on it, and the content stinks, you’re going to leave and look for another page. The next page you find give a simple step by step process on how to build a treehouse, starting with a stable platform. In addition, it is formatted to display on your smartphone properly. You then spend 15 minutes on the site, writing down what kind of lumber, supplies, and tools that you’ll need. Google knows that you spent 7 seconds on one site and 15 minutes on the next. If you were trying to teach a computer how to measure the importance of a page would you not use this data as a factor? It is common sense if you ask me.

Sometimes my silly opinion is not enough. Thankfully, someone has finally put this “theory” to rest with an enormous amount of testing. Whitespark founder Darren Shaw is “obsessed with user behaviors as ranking signals” and produced this slideshare for State of Search 2014. Enjoy.

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  1. Update December 2015: Google has confirmed that CTR is a ranking signal in local search. https://twitter.com/DarrenShaw_/status/671795416069902336

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