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Is using Google Analytics a search ranking factor?


Google Analytics (GA) is a powerful tool that allows website owners to learn how users interact with their webpages.

The amount of information that can be obtained from Google Analytics is so detailed that for over a decade the theory has spread that GA data is a ranking factor.

Is Google Analytics powerful enough to influence Google search results?

Let’s take a closer look.

[Recommended Read:] Google Ranking Factors: Fact or Fiction

The Claim: Google Analytics as a Ranking Factor

in google How search works According to the documentation, webpage relevance is one of many factors used to rank webpages.

How Search Works - Relevance ScreenshotScreenshot from Google’s How Search Works, June 2022

The most basic relevance signal is that your content contains the same words as your search query.

Additional information about how Google determines page relevance is provided.

Beyond simple keyword matching, Google says: Turn that data into a signal so that machine learning systems can better estimate relevance. ”

How search works - screenshot of interaction dataScreenshot from Google’s How Search Works, June 2022

What is “interaction data” and where does Google get the data from?

Some marketers assume that these factors include metrics such as time on page, organic clickthrough rate, bounce rate, total direct traffic, and percentage of repeat visitors.

This makes sense because these are metrics that marketers are familiar with and understand to represent the interactive data Google may be looking for.

Marketers may also notice improved correlations between metrics as their SERP ranking improves.

Do you potentially use Google Analytics to somehow improve Google’s understanding of the website’s user experience?

Like some kind of SEO bat signal?

Can I directly influence my ranking by providing Google with more “interaction data”?

[Ebook:] Download the Complete Guide to Google Ranking Factors

Evidence against Google Analytics as a ranking factor

While we don’t have direct access to Google’s algorithms, there is evidence to suggest that using Google Analytics as a ranking factor is not a plausible theory.

First, Google representatives clearly and consistently state that they do not use Google Analytics data as a ranking factor.

Until March 16, 2022, John Moo replied to a tweet about Google Analytics affecting rank.

John Mu GA4 tweet_thats not happening_screenshotTwitter screenshot, June 2022

One marketer jokingly suggested that if Google wants people to use GA4, all they have to do is say it improves rankings.

John Mu replied, “It won’t happen.”

Google seems to constantly deny the idea that their analytics services influence rankings in any way.

Way back in 2010 when we were Tweet To seize the top spot in results for a while, Matt Cutts “Google Analytics is not used at all for search quality in rankings.”

Matt Cutts YouTube says Google Analytics is not used for search“Does Google Analytics data factor in page ranking?” Google Search Central, June 2022

Don’t take Google’s word for it.

Here are three websites that ranked in the top 10 most competitive keywords that didn’t have a Google Analytics tag on their site.

1. Ahrefs, an SEO tool, notorious for not using Google Analytics.

Ahrefs website does not have Google Analytics Google Tag legacy exampleScreenshot by the author, June 2022

Ahrefs CMO Tim Soulo tweeted in December 2019:

Tim Soulo Ahrefs tweets about not using GATwitter screenshot, June 2022

The Ahrefs domain also ranks in the top 10 for over 12,000 non-branded keywords.

Ahrefs ranks in top 10 for 12,000 non-branded keywordsScreenshot from Ahrefs.com, June 2022

2. Another famous example is Wikipedia.

Wikipedia articles dominate Google search results, ranking highly for computer, dog, and even definitional type searches such as the search query “Google”.

And it ranks in all these ranks even without the Google Analytics code on your site.

Wikipedia does not use Google Analytics examplesScreenshot by the author, June 2022

3. Another example is Ethereum.

Ethereum Ranks Top 10 [nft]NFT is an enterprise-level keyword with over a million searches per month in the US alone.

Ethereum websites do not have Google Analytics installed.

Ethereum does not use Google Analytics examplesScreenshot by the author, June 2022

[Discover:] Insights into other Google ranking factors

Our Verdict: Google Analytics Is Not A Ranking Factor

Is using Google Analytics a search ranking factor?

Google Analytics is a powerful tool that helps us understand how people find our website and what they do there.

You’ll also find that tweaking your website by making it easier to navigate or improving your content will improve your GA metrics.

However, the site’s GA code does not send SEO bat signals.

The GA Code is not a signal to Google and does not facilitate Google’s assessment of relevance (whether a webpage satisfies a user’s search query).

“Bat Signal” is for you.

Google Analytics is not a ranking factor, but it helps us understand if we are going in the right or wrong direction.


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

Ranking Factors: Fact or Fiction? Let's break some myths! [Ebook]





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