When you think of user experience as a ranking factor, you will probably think of bounce rate, time on site, and page views. But what if you tell Google what is important to you? Is it possible to give Google a guide as to what a good user experience is on your site by setting up goals in Google Analytics? If you get conversions on those goals, will you get an increase in rankings? This is what we test out.
Five identical test pages were created and indexed and the page in the #3 ranking position was chosen as the experiment page.
Five Mechanical Turk projects have been set up to create the trffic to these pages and to manipulate conversions. Mechanical Turk is a platform where you can pay real workers to complete online tasks. While not specifically an SEO program such as Crowdsearch, Mechanical Turk seemed ideal for our purposes. Within the program, we could pay workers to click where we wanted them to click.
All of the users were instructed to go to the page and copy the last word on the page into the form. Only the experiment page has a conversion set up in Google Analytics. The conversion in this case is visiting the page.
Google Analytics has been set up on the test pages to monitor the traffic and conversions.
It’s odd that the test page dropped in rankings but at a minimum, it’s a clear sign that conversions are not a ranking factor.
In the end, the experiment page ended up with 64 conversions. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what caused the shake-up at the end which moved a new page into the #1 position and moved the experiment page down two spots.
In reviewing the final data, the page that moved into the #1 position had the 3rd most visits (though within a handful of visits of the pages with the most visits) and the 2nd best bounce rate.
As with the other user metrics tests that we’ve done, it seems that bounce rate and visits are important factors. It doesn’t seem like a stretch that there’s a formula that relates to visits vis-a-vis bounce rate which would be part of the algorithm portion of user metrics.
In this video, Clint talks about this test and his insights on the use of Google Analytics.
Test number 59 – User Metrics: Is a Google Analytics Conversion a Ranking Factor?
The idea behind this is huge Google Analytics because in theory, Google monitors all the analytics accounts that are ever in its system and correlates that data and uses that to grade your website. And so, if you’re using Google Analytics, and you set conversions goal, and that creates the conversion, is a signal to Google that page is better than the other pages that are ranking for the term, that the website is ranking for, or that particular page is ranking for, even if you want to narrow that scope down a little bit more for the idea.
The contents of this test is five identical test pages were created and indexed, page number three was the one or the one that was ranking and then number three position was the experimental page. Google Analytics was set up and then we set up conversions settings, so we set up the goals to track conversions. And then they created a Mechanical Turk project to manipulate and to trigger what that conversion is, and in this case, the conversion is visiting the page. It’s the easiest conversion you can do, right?
So you have a page and it says, hey, go visit this page, and you click that button that triggers the goal, the goal says that it’s a conversion and what ended up happening here is the page that was ahead of conversion waa actually dropped.
It’s probably a really good thing that it did drop or – if it’s a really good thing. But if you are ranking for, let’s say, you’re ranking for blue widgets and you have a page that is ranking for Google widgets, and then you have this other pages that you want to send traffic to that is related to whatever your call to action is, say, buy blue widgets. And so you have that button, it links to it and you send the traffic over there, and you call it a conversion, you’re actually creating the link to buy blue widgets for that other page. So blue widgets are what necessarily it ranks higher for. This is my blue widgets page and this is my buy blue widgets page. And by doing that, I think that’s why that test page dropped in the rankings for the test keyword, which is the anchor text and the link your sending traffic. So this page is related to this, this page is related to your version of this, we’re going to send all the traffic there. So ergo, don’t show the page that we’re sending the traffic to, show the page that we want to rank that we’ve optimized for. And by doing that, by putting that link on there, I think that’s what caused that rankings drop.
This is an interesting test. It’s also a good reminder that if you have a really good web page, and it’s converting your traffic to sales, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to rank higher because it’s converting well and you have to think about both of these. This is also a good testament to the fact that high quality content would result in a conversion. So unless of course you’re on an information site, well, even then, on an information site, it could because you have a related ad showing, right? So it could be related to conversion to click through an ad.
It’s a good reminder that you not only have to take your copy into consideration, but copy and SEO are not always entirely intertwined. There are some aspects of SEO that you have to address, in order to rank well and there are some aspects to copy that do not apply to SEO. And in this case, the conversion rate of your copy does not necessarily coincide with the ranking of your webpage.
And you can see the inverse of that, you can rank really high for something and then have really crappy conversion rates. Well, if conversion rate was a ranking factor, and you’re ranking really high for it, and you have really poor conversion rates, ergo you should no longer rank higher right? Now, that’s not the case in the real world.
So this is an interesting test. I thought about adding this to our retest list, but at the end of the day, I’m not even sold on it as a thing, but we’re going to try it. And with the user metrics updates coming, supposedly, Google’s better at analyzing user interactions now with your websites, we’ll see if that’s actually the case. And I probably bet dollars to say that Google Analytics conversions or conversions at all, will remain a non-issue in regards to SEO.