How does User Interaction factor in for Google?

How does user interaction within your site (and even on SERPs) factor in for your SEO efforts?

This kind of flew under the radar last month but I do believe this gives the almighty Google algo more meaning.

"The U.S. Department of Justice has released several new trial exhibits – including internal Google presentations, documents and emails related to ranking. "

7 must-see Google Search ranking documents in antitrust trial exhibits (


A lot of redacted content but some key takeaways and validations:


Google's "3 Pillars of Ranking"

Google has what they call "3 Pillars of Ranking"

    • Body - the content itself (answered by your onpage and tech SEOefforts)
    • Anchors - what the web says about the document (answered by your offpage SEO efforts)
    • User interactions - this is not new but has been a long debated topic; this confirms that Google does use user experience and interactions as potential ranking signals

Google does not "understand" documents fully so they rely on user interaction as some sort of feedback loop; the more positive signals a webpage or website has, the better the chances in ranking

Google's Numerous "Search Quality" Aspects

There are  "Search Quality" aspects that were shared, a lot of which we already know and try to work on:

    • Relevance
    • Page Quality
    • Freshness
    • Localization
    • Language
    • Personalization
    • Authority
    • Spam
    • Web ecosystem (offpage)

Other "Search Quality" aspects that are not yet clear since there was no explanation on how they are rated:

    • Centrality
    • Topical diversity
    • Social fairness
    • Optionalization
    • Porn demotion
    • Privacy
    • User control of spell correction

Google admits that capturing every metric is "tough" for them.

User Interaction and Google

Visualization on how search works for Google, including the feedback loop from user interaction

Google User Interaction Signals





Besides the usual user interactions within the site (clicks, hovers, scrolls, reading), Google also relies on hovers and clicks on SERP.

Queries from mobile vary greatly from desktop

Based on information from the slides, the 3 pillars for ranking can be a good framework on how you can start or continue to tackle challenges for search:


Body - This would be your usual content and tech SEO efforts. They should all work together to make the websites and the articles as optimized as they can be for crawlers. The current challenge here (for everyone!) is implementation for content prod, and tech.


Anchors - Unfortunately, there's really no going around offpage or linkbuilding efforts..unless you are a big brand name or company that organically gets backlinks and mentions. I expect this will still be a challenge for smaller brands.


User Interaction - I believe this is something that could be answered by your planned and ongoing UX improvements. You can get better insights if you are already tracking UX metrics. Improving recirculation should help.

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