Consumer Behavior Influences Search Ranking Position

User behavior signals, such as time on site, pages per session and bounce rate, indicate the authority of a Web site and influence its rankings. The higher a page's position, the lower the bounce rate, according to a study released Wednesday. It relies on the content marketers create and post, and how consumers interact with it.

The bounce rate of the top position for the high-volume keywords is approximately 4%, and for low-volume keywords, about 51%. It's one in several ranking factors that SEMRush analyzed in its most recent report titled Ranking factors 2017.

The study, conducted in May, is segmented into numerous factors that contribute to higher ranking, but one of the most interesting involves user behavior.

Similarly, the higher a page ranks, the more time users spend on the specific site. The average amount of time spent on the site is 40 seconds less for the low-volume keywords than for the high-volume keywords.



On high-ranking pages and sites, visitors typically navigate through three to three-and-a-half pages per Web site, per visit. As the site moves toward the top of the query results, there are more pages per session for every domain. The number of pages per session is similar, on average, for the first four SERP positions.

The findings show that the number of Web site visits to a specific page is the most important page-ranking factor. Web sites with higher authority consequently gain more traffic, and as a result, have a better chance of getting into the top of the query results.

For the overall study, SEMRush analyzed 600,000 search queries. To analyze user behavior, for every top-100 search engine query result position, the company calculated the median-value bounce rate, the amount of time that the user spends on the domain in general, and the number of pages that the user visits during a single session and then segmented the results according to two keyword volume groups, high and low.

A Web site’s number of referring domains can indicate authority, per the study. When combined with the behavior signals, it can influence a Web site’s rankings. Pages that rank high have more backlinks from unique domains. The Web sites that appear on search engine results pages for high-volume keywords have significantly more backlinks than the ones that appear for low-volume keywords, nearly 10-times more.

Web site security -- indicated with a HTTPS URL -- remains important, but has little influence as a ranking factor. Some 65% of domains rank for high-value keywords are HTTPs.

The HTTPS adoption rate is very high in the high-volume keyword group. The more popular the keywords are, the more possible it is that the top positions will be occupied by HTTPS domains. Marketers wanting to compete for high-volume keywords, having an HTTPS version of your site is extremely important, according to the study.

The study also analyzes content length. In this instance, lengthy content gives the impression of in-depth analysis and looks more trustworthy. To determine the difference, SEMRush calculated the median-value content length for the top 10 pages for 600,000 keywords from our worldwide base. The results were broken down into four keyword volume sections.

On average, the more content on the page, the higher the ranking in search results. The larger the keyword volume, the longer the content. For high-volume keywords the median curve is more abrupt than for low-volume keywords. The content-length median value for high-volume keywords is 1.5 times higher than for the low-volume keywords.

The findings also suggest the query results from searches with more words have more content on average than short-tail ones, nearly 20% more. "For instance, an average top-100 article on "graphic design" will be shorter than an average top-100 article on ‘graphic design trends in 2017,' per the study.

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