Is User Engagement a Ranking Signal?

User engagement is the way to measure how a visitor coming from organic or paid search takes action on the site.

  • It factors data like clicks from search results to visiting pages;
  • the amount of time spent on the page(s);
  • the drop-offs after visiting only one page (bounce rate);
  • the page relevancy to the query (if they quickly returned to search to visit another result);
  • the actions they took on the page (buttons clicked, subscriptions, add to cart, etc.).

Now, Google has ways to collect the above data via Google Analytics, Chrome Browser, cookies, etc. Still, they don’t explicitly say that engagement metrics are ranking signals, though they have admitted to using click data to modify SERPs for particular queries. Experimentation, though, has shown that pages that score well in these metrics influence their ranking.

For example, a lower bounce rate has a positive effect or clicks coming en mass during a short period can push higher a page only to drop it when the trend washes out.

On click data, the Google team acknowledges that after measuring clicks in the SERPs, they would demote pages with less engagement in favor of others that get more clicks, albeit ranking lower.

We have to assume that click data is used on all Google products, so Google Maps with business listings, Google images, and YouTube videos fall into the soup.

The fun part is that engagement metrics affect rankings leaving out the old-school hunt for more backlinks. That’s why many professionals who used to count on backlinks are left empty-handed.

Photo by Amélie Mourichon on Unsplash


Core Web Vitals measure user experience on 6 areas
if you fix all of them you get a perfect score (90+),
visitors will convert more and your rankings will improve.