SEO in simple words is about improving your website to get more free traffic Google.
Now the metrics that Google uses to decide what webpages to rank varies, but in the SEO community there there are 3 ranking factors that no one in the SEO community completely agrees are ranking factors:
Dwell Time, Bounce Rate & Readability.
Here’s the thing:
Google and some SEOers will tell you these are all: “indirect ranking factors”.
But in my opinion, while they are not direct factors, I do believe they are worth monitoring.
I do want to preface:
I AM NOT SAYING THESE ARE GOOGLE RANKING SIGNALS.
What I am saying is that there is a least some data to prove that these factors are worth paying attention to.
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Okay let’s get into the list!
Table Of Contents
1. Dwell Time
Dwell Time is how long someone spends on your website.
Now again, one of Google’s people have said it is not a factor.
In an article by Search Engine Journal’s Matt Southern:” Is Dwell Time a ranking factor?”
Matt cites a quote from Google’s Gary Illyes that says:
“Dwell time, CTR, whatever Fishkin’s (Moz) new theory is, those are generally made up crap. Search is much more simple than people think.”
Now Matt uses this quote to say that Dwell Time is not a ranking factor.
But as an SEO specialist, it is common for Google to brush off a lot of SEO theories as mumbo jumbo.
but there’s data that supports it might be:
In a 2016 study on website engagement metrics by Moz’s own Larry Kim, he found that:
As “time on site” (Dwell Time) increased, so did organic rankings.
Here’s some key takeaways from the article:
- Sites ranking #1 on average had 500 Seconds of time on page
- Sites ranking 10 or below had 300 seconds or less
I believe this is common sense:
As people spend more time on your site, it shows that your content must be valuable.
So even though Google says it’s not. I do believe it is worth paying attention to!
If you want to learn more about On-Page ranking factors feel free to read my post on, What is On-Site SEO!
2. Bounce Rate
Now Bounce rate is how often some leaves your site without clicking anything.
In the post: 200 Google Ranking Factors by one of my favorite SEO data scientist; Brian Dean found that:
“Websites with a higher bounce rate ranked lower on Google”
Here’s some key takeaways:
- Site ranking #1 had a bounce rate of under 45%.
- Site ranking #10 or higher had a rate of 50%.
This makes sense, as I know from experience sites with high bounce rates definitely have issues with layout, content, branding, exec.
Now there is a lot of controversy in the SEO community about this being a factor.
” (They) Are correlation factors and not causal factors”.
Albeit correlational, it still shows that this a factor worth monitoring.
You’ve may have heard of Flesch Reading Ease.
This calculates how easy it is for your web content to be read by a human.
Again Google’s own John Mueller has come out an said that it is not a direct ranking factor:
“So from an SEO point of view, it’s probably not something that you need to focus on, in the sense that, as far as I know, we don’t have kind of these basic algorithms that just count words and try to figure out what the reading level is based on these existing algorithms”.
Ahrefs study by Michal Pecánek on Readability, also supports Mueller’s words:
“There no correlation between readability and rankings.”
While the data to support this is not suffice:
Michal made a great point for why we should still consider it:
“If searchers find your content hard to read and understand, they’ll probably leave. This leads to negative user experience signals like a low dwell time, time on page, and a high bounce rate, which may signal to Google that your page isn’t a great result. Even worse, because fewer visitors actually end up consuming the content, fewer people will link to it—and we know that backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors”.
So again while there is no concrete data to support that readability is a ranking factor.
You may want to consider making your content easier to read as it can:
decrease bounce rate, and increase dwell time. Which both lead to a better user experience.
Top 3 Indirect Google Ranking Signals: Wrap – Up
Okay so there you have it 3 indirect Google Ranking signals.
Again while there is not pure causation or anecdotal evidence from Google to support that these are ranking factors.
There is still enough correlational data to make you consider paying attention to these factors!
Now it’s Your Turn!
Let me know in the comments what you think about the list
Do think these should be considered ranking factors?
Are there other factors I should have mentioned?
Leave me a comment and I will reply to you within 24 hours.
I love hearing from you as it helps me make better content to help!
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