Google: Web Site Traffic Is Not A Ranking Factor
Most SEO beginners and some advanced SEOs believe that website traffic is a ranking factor. This is a common myth often misunderstood by many.
Website traffic is not a ranking factor including when it comes to the SERP value of a hyperlink you receive from an external website.
Google’s official webmasters Twitter account said, “traffic to a website isn’t a ranking factor.” This is in response to an SEO asking if it is. It is popular myth within the novice SEO world. While more experienced SEOs still insist on claiming this is true further confusing the general public with conflicting information not based on scientifically proven studies.
Two incorrect and unfounded claims.
- Organic traffic to a website will increase it’s rankings (No)
- When receiving a hyperlink from a high traffic website it will provide additional ranking power and SERP impact (No)
Two General Correct Claims. (In a generalised sense only)
- Traffic is a result of rank
- Rank is not a result of traffic
Note the above statements do not include referral traffic in this consideration.
What are the top ranking factors?
Here are the results of consolidated research, study and testing conducted by leading and reputable sources in the SEO industry.
In no particular order.
- Domain Relevance
- Domain Trust
- Domain Authority
- Domain Age
- Referring Domains
- Total follow-backlinks
Some would argue site speed should be included in the top ranking factors.
A study conducted by Tech Business News suggests this is not as important as many SEOs believe in terms of SERP directly. However a slow website will increase the bounce rate which is not a good thing.
The study involved throttling a hosting environment to poor performance values, removing caching, minified CSS and java script on a test site. While this site ranked on the first page of search results for a low to moderate competitive target keyword no observable position loss was noted.
It was then decided to migrate the site from a commercial grade hosting environment based in datacentre to a home based lab operating on a 100mbps downstream and 40mbps upstream residential internet connection.
While the site performance and load time was degraded no impact to it’s rank in Google search was noted over a 3 week period. Ahrefs, a third party SEO metrics measuring service also agrees page speed in a ranking factor you should ignore.
A search console recrawl request was also made directly after the intentional performance impact tests were carried out.
Google’s John Mueller states organic web traffic is not a ranking factor
In an SEO office hours YouTube video Google’s John Mueller comes forward with a statement in response to a question on May 7 2021
At the 18:53 minute mark a statement was made that confuses many SEO professionals. Some have commented this was a lie by Google’s SEO front man. However leading SEO industry sources concur with the statement.
Does direct traffic help SEO?
No, Direct traffic doesn’t affect google ranking. Google counts only organic visitors arriving to a website from organic search engine results. Some may argue Google is tracking direct traffic via Google Chrome web browser and DNS resolvers such as 188.8.131.52
- 90.63% of Content Gets No Traffic From Google
- Google has 91.9 percent of the market share as of January 2022.
- Google processes over 8.5 billion searches per day.
- 50 % of web traffic comes from mobile devices
Whatever your website traffic is, it will always be just a consequence of your SEO efforts. SEOs and webmasters, cannot directly influence the majority of a websites traffic however, indirect actions can increase it over time.
For now the official word on traffic is not a ranking factor remains. It also does not have an observable correlation to the SERP impact a hyperlink provides from referencing website .