Stephen Ostermiller's Blog

Myth: Improving stats in Google Analytics without changing the user experience will help SEO

Will improving your stats in Google Analytics help SEO? No, not on its own. Google doesn't use analytics data as a ranking factor in any way.

Google Analytics reports of usability metrics like "time on site" and "bounce rate." Improving these metrics can have a big impact on the user experience of your site. That in turn can help your SEO. Your site does better in the search rankings when users have a good experience.

However, those stats can be improved by collecting better data or by making changes that don't help the user experience. Improving your Google Analytics stats without actually improving your user experience won't help your SEO. Google doesn't look at data from Google Analytics to determine how sites should rank in the search results.

Here are two ways that you can get better stats without making the user experience better:

  • Implement "events" on your site. By default Google analytics only tracks page views. It doesn't track activity that happens within each page. To track in-page activity, you can send events to Google Analytics to track when the user interacts with the page.

    For example, when a user lands on your site, reads an entire article, then leaves. Google Anaytics counts it as a "bounce" with zero time on site. If you implement events for users scrolling down the page, Google Analytics will no longer count that user as a bounce and it will record the time on site from the page load until the last scroll event is sent.

    Implementing events will change your stats in Google Analytics for be the better but users won't even know it happened. You'll get better data, but it won't change your SEO.

  • Break articles into multiple pages. If you force users to click to to a new page to read parts of an article rather than putting the entire article on one page, it will help your bounce rate in Google Analytics.

    However, that is a change that hurts user experience. Users get frustrated when they have to click to continue reading and wait for the next part of the article to load. As a result, paginated articles may hurt your SEO even if they improve your stats in Google Analytics.

This article was written as part of a series about SEO myths.

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