search marketing

The Security-Related Search Rankings Boost You Don’t Know About

Written by Paul Steinbrueck

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Last week we talked about How to  Get a Super-Easy Google Search Ranking Boost but there is another security-related boost in search rankings you can get but probably don’t know about.

One of the factors Google uses in its search rankings algorithm is “dwell time.”

When a person searches Google and clicks on a link in the search results, dwell time is the amount of time that person spends on the website before returning to the Google search results.

Here’s what Nick Frost of Google said about it in 2017:

Google is now integrating machine learning into that process [of figuring out the relationship between a search and the best page for that search]. So then training models on when someone clicks on a page and stays on that page, when they go back or when they and trying to figure out exactly on that relationship.

In other words, Google is using AI (artificial intelligence) to look at how long people stay on a site between search clicks and adjust search rankings.


What Dwell Time Tells Google

Imagine you search Google for something, anything, it doesn’t matter.  You click on the first listing, go to the website and you can see in 10 seconds it doesn’t solve the problem or provide the information you were looking for, So, you go back to the search results.

Next you click on the second listing in the search results. It seems fairly relevant, so you keep reading.  You stay on the site for 2 minutes as you finish reading the page. You find it helpful, but decide there’s still more information you need, so you go back to the search results.

Next you click on the third listing in the search results.  It also seems relevant, so you read the whole page. When you finish reading the page, you see there are other related pages, you click around, read more pages, watch a video and end up staying 15 minutes on the site. This site has solved your problem or provided the info you were looking for, so you don’t go back to the search results.

Think about how Google will interpret your actions. 

You only stayed 10 seconds on the first site and then came back and looked for another site. That’s a pretty good indication the first site was not a helpful result for you. Google would be smart to move that down in the search results.  Compare that to the third site you clicked to and never came back to Google.  Google would be smart to move that up in the search results.

Imagine what Google can do by analyzing and tweaking the results from billions of searches?

How is Dwell Time related to security?

I’m glad you asked…

Let’s say your website does not have an SSL certificate. Someone searches for something related to your website, a listing for your website is shown on the first page of the search results, the person clicks through to your website, sees the “Not Secure” notice in their website browser and immediately goes back to the search results.  If enough people do this, the low dwell time could result in Google lowering your search rankings.

On the other hand, let’s say your website does have an SSL certificate but some of your “competitors” do not. People searching quickly leave your competitors’ websites but they feel safe to browse your website giving you a longer dwell time.  Google will notice this and move your listing up in the search results.

Think of it like this:

Security builds trust. Trust builds relationships. Relationships are key to the success of any endeavor.

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If you care at all about reaching people via search engines and don’t yet have one, get an SSL for your website.

And if you’d like some additional help getting better search rankings and more visitors for your organization, talk with us about church SEO or SEO for your Christian-owned business or ministry.

What comments or questions do you have about SSLs and SEO? 

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About the author

Paul Steinbrueck

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck.

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