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Google patent suggests that CTR over time is important

 7:45 am on Aug 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

A patent filed by Google [patft.uspto.gov...] in Nov 2011 suggests that your pages CTR while displayed in serps creates a score and impacts the movement over time effect of the page in rankings.

2. The method of claim 1, where determining the amount or rate that the document moves in search result rankings includes: determining a number of positions that the document moves in the search result rankings, and where generating the score for the document includes generating the score based on the determined number of positions that the document moves in the search result rankings.

The patent titled "Document scoring based on query analysis" further ties into the spam detection effect of another patent discussed here [webmasterworld.com...] in that there is a rate over time effect...
11. The memory device of claim 10, further comprising: one or more instructions to employ measures to prevent the rank of the document from changing at more than a predetermined rate.

The result may be that if your page receives a low ranking on initial indexing that there will be a time delay, and struggle, to make it rise to the top. CTR plays a pivotal role in the rise or fall of the document, depending on how heavily weighted this ranking method is, and its likely that other factors like backpaging does too.

Is it time to rethink the importance of those webmaster tools metrics that suggest a low CTR from search?



 6:53 pm on Aug 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

I liked that CTR metric from the minute Google showed it to us in Webmaster Tools. First, there's no way for us to know what it is unless they let us know. Even more, by letting us know WHAT the number is, they also let us know that they think it's important.


 8:37 pm on Aug 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

I know that user satisfaction has a huge impact on rankings. I'm convinced they use more than just click through rate to judge user satisfaction. I'd like to see their numbers for other metrics such as "back to SERPs", "click on another result", and "refine query" metrics.


 9:32 pm on Aug 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

Yet another controversial ranking technique has been patented by Google!

CTR is very much influenced by both the title and the excerpt and both (excerpts more often than titles) can and do get edited by Google anywhere from the exact tag match (meta description, title) to some machine-code looking jumble. The latter obviously does not help you with CTR and so this can become a positive feedback system, i.e. Google did not do a good job constructing the right excerpt, your CTR suffers, you slide down the SERP page, your CTR lowers even more, you keep moving down in ranks, all of which is without you actually doing anything.


 9:40 pm on Aug 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

You're making the assumption that Google would factor in views/CTR when it has modified the title/excerpt which may not be the case.

This is a very logical patent IMO (surely way too obvious to be able to have patent protection?) - I kind of assumed they did this anyway and for years. Maybe not but either way, if it is in play, webmasters need to bear in mind that the META description tag is still indirectly a factor in ranking.

[edited by: Simsi at 9:47 pm (utc) on Aug 19, 2012]


 9:46 pm on Aug 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

Wow nothing for ages then 2 patents in a row. I think these patents offer a clue on how ranking will be led now or in the future


 9:49 pm on Aug 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

Or a cynic might suggest that just by patenting every possible way of presenting search results they can prevent a competitor from getting ahead ;)

Slightly OT but the whole patent system needs looking at: Apple, Google, Samsung etc...they are all stifling technological advancement to protect their own interests. You can't blame 'em - anyone would do the same in their positions...it's the system that needs the overhaul.


 10:03 pm on Aug 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

^^^ ;)..


 10:36 pm on Aug 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

The started re-writing titles and descriptions when they saw that click through rates were lower than they should be based on the quality of the site. If the re-written title and description don't help the CTR, it gets reverted.


 11:02 pm on Aug 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

it gets reverted

See other patent for info on reverting changes


 11:34 pm on Aug 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

I remember watching a video, about 5 years ago, where a google employee said very clearly that serps CTR is a factor in ranking, so nothing new here.


 1:51 am on Aug 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Interesting info, but in light of that other patent, I'd be pretty hesitant to start testing different page titles to try improve CTR :(


 2:00 am on Aug 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Experiments with titles and meta descriptions is white hat SEO 101. If you haven't found the best ones yet, you are missing out to your competitors that have.


 2:34 am on Aug 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Just make sure your title changes are not done right after a ranking change ;)


 2:42 am on Aug 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Back to the business side of this, how would this patent be enforced anyway? So now bing engineers aren't allowed to consider ctr in their algo? The algo is secret and complex anyway.....


 2:59 am on Aug 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

I wonder if this also affects site-wide rankings. Say a bunch of your pages have not so great titles / meta tags, will the poor CTR there then result in other pages being demoted? Basically, is this a factor in Panda?


 3:11 am on Aug 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

The patent has 33 points, and this thread is about #2 - and only part of #2 at that, with vague words like "includes." I am not a lawyer, but it looks to me like there's plenty of wiggle room for Bing to use CTR from the SERPs. They're already on record as saying they watch that signal, anyway.

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