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Behavioral Factors and SEO: Crucial Metrics for Google Rankings

Digital Marketing
November 3, 2023
15 mins

Have you ever asked yourself why some websites rank higher in search results than others, even if their content is not of the highest quality? It depends on behavioral factors that reflect user interaction with webpages: from the time spent on the site to the frequency of return visits. Google closely monitors the way visitors interact with websites, and further applies this information for ranking.

We’ve talked to Promodo SEO experts, Yevheniia Atamanenko and Georgii Glushko to find out more about how behavioral factors affect the positioning of a website in search results.  

A Conventional Approach to SEO

Many search engine optimization (SEO) experts focus on three key elements: the technical component of the site, content, and link building.

Technical improvement: Today your website should work flawlessly. Fast loading, textual and visual content adaptability for mobile devices, and the right structure make your website user-friendly and comprehensive for search engines. 

Content: Your texts should not only be unique but also useful and interesting for users. Regular updates will help your website remain relevant.

Link building: External links from reliable resources improve your search rankings. However, beware that the quality of links is far more important than their quantity. 

Core SEO Attributes

All these components form the SEO basis, while their in-depth understanding is the key to unveiling Google search behavior and ranking success.

A genuine breakthrough is in paying attention to user behavior data we'll discuss below. It is these innovations and an understanding of the behavioral interactions of visitors that can become your competitive advantage.

Critical Importance of Behavioral Factors for Google 

Imagine a world where your website adapts to individual user needs instead of mere SEO standards. The world where you know exactly what your customer wants even before they make their request.  This is possible if you understand the most important ranking parameters considered by Google.

Google: Key Ranking Factors



CTR (click-through rate) marks the percentage of people who saw your site in search results and clicked on your link. 


Once there are enough organic clicks, this means your offer is of interest to users. CTR analysis makes a feasible background beneath the effectiveness of your SEO efforts and marks the content your visitors like most.

CTR is a core metric that helps better understand your target audience. Its analysis shows what hooks your audience. If your CTR is low, you may be reaching the wrong audience. Even if your website ranks at the top of search results, it doesn't mean that it will get a lot of visitors. The key is how often people visit your site and get the information they need.

For Google, it is important how users perceive the presented results. While the search engine checks how well your site meets user intent (search queries), it is vital for you to secure high CTR and high-quality content. 

User Path on Your Site

This is how users learn about your site and which route they choose to get the information they need. 

‍70% of online shoppers leave the cart without completing their purchase. Why the rate is so high? The answer may be in the path they take. Knowing a user path is a key point in improving your site performance. To understand why they behave the way they do, you need to research their behavior.

A Customer Journey Map (CJM) perfectly serves the purpose of user behavior tracking. It will help you to:

  • Identify where users came to your site from
  • Find out which pages they viewed and how long they stayed there
  • Identify where potential buyers have difficulties (probably, there needs to be more information on your website, or the order form needs to be simplified).
  • Understand which stages of the customer journey usually lead to a successful purchase.
  • Understanding a user journey is not just about knowing how visitors interact with your site. It is about creating a web resource that not only informs but also converts.

User Path Online
Customer Journey Map (CJM)

Entry and Exit Pages

It is vital to know which pages on your site are primarily visited by users, and which ones are usually abandoned. 

Answering this core question is the key to understanding which pages are performing well and which need optimization. Among user behavior metrics, the Entries metric shows how many times the first event in a session occurred on a particular page or screen. 

‍The Exit rate measures the percentage of visitors who were the last in the session. It shows how often users leave the site after viewing pages on your site.

Exit Rate
Exit Rate Report By Monster Insights

Bounce Rate

It is very easy to confuse bounce rate with exit rate. More to that, Google's definitions complicate the situation even further. Both metrics gauge the same thing - the percentage of people who leave a page after viewing it. However, there is one essential difference.

Bounce rate measures the percentage of visitors who haven’t interacted with your website (e.g., leave a comment or navigate to another page) and left it. As a result, Google Analytics 4 records a single session only.

Bounce rate is one of the most critical user behavior signals. You should differentiate between different types of bounces: (1) a superficial bounce, when a visitor stays on a page for a short time and leaves it without taking any further action, and (2) a deep bounce when a user returns to the search results after visiting the site. The second type of bounce is particularly important for search engines when assessing the quality of content and user experience. Google negatively perceives such a behavior while most likely users haven’t found an answer to their question on your site and returned to the search. Georgii Glushko, Middle SEO Expert at Promodo.

Conversion Rate

Conversion rate is the percentage of website visitors who performed the targeted action: filled out an application, made an order, subscribed to a newsletter, left contacts for feedback, etc.

SEO optimization
Conversion Rate

The average SEO conversion rate is 2.4%, although it varies depending on the niche. If 100 people arrive at a particular page on your site from the organic search, two or three of them will perform a conversion action like filling out a form, downloading a white paper, or signing up for an email list. These are all important SEO signals to improve a customer journey on your site. 

Most websites have a primary goal like sales or subscriptions. Hence, it is more effective to focus not on the overall average conversion rate, but on the indicators within your own niche. This will help you plan your development strategy more precisely. Georgii Glushko, Middle SEO Expert at Promodo.

Metrics are not only about numbers. They tell a story about your website, your business, and your audience. Most importantly, they can tell you which tools to choose for improvement and growth.

Rand Fishkin Experiment

In 2015, a well-known SEO expert Rand Fishkin conducted an experiment to investigate how behavioral factors affect Google rankings.

He approached the task in a rather creative way. Instead of using traditional methods, he reached out to his audience on X (former Twitter). The idea was simple: ask followers to ask Google one specific question, click on the first result, immediately return to the list of results, and finally click on the fourth one.

The results were amazing: in just 70 minutes, the fourth result rose to the top! The main factor that caused this jump was identified as the bounce rate.

Algorithm of Fishkin Experiment

This experiment confirmed the importance of behavioral factors and showed that despite the numerous ranking algorithms and factors applied by Google, user behavior plays an important role in website positioning.

Indicators such as a high number of bounces (which in GA4 is reformulated as the number of users who left the site) or a short time spent on the site indicate that the content does not meet visitor needs. Google perceives such sites as less useful and lower it in the search results. That's why you shouldn't underestimate the importance of behavioral factors when optimizing your web resource. Evgeniya Atamanenko, Middle SEO Expert at Promodo.


After working out the foundation and attracting your first visitors, evaluating user behavior is the second most important step in website optimization. Coefficients may vary depending on the niche, but it is crucial to make every user feel comfortable on your site. Otherwise, your site will not stay in high positions for long and will not meet your strategic business objectives.

The more visitors actively interact with your site (i.e. read your articles, leave feedback, share materials on social media networks, etc) the more signals Google receives about the high quality and usefulness of your content. Consequently, the search engine considers your site as a reliable source of information and increases its position in the search results. In addition to content creation, modern SEO requires content optimization to meet user needs. Evgeniya Atamanenko, Middle SEO Expert at Promodo.

Once you spot a traffic decline to your media resource or a monthly number of active users is melting, contact our team of SEO experts. With a huge experience in various niches, we will create a personalized development plan with clear KPIs to ensure measurable success.

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Written by
Valeriia Sorokoletova

SEO Specialist at Promodo

With over 5 years of SEO experience, I have been an integral part of the Promodo team for the last two years. My expertise extends to managing projects in both the US and European markets, collaborating with startups as well as established ventures.

November 3, 2023
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