How I wish I'd seen Brett's Panda Metric thread a year ago. Mind you, it probably wouldn't have made much sense to me back then!
I've been thinking about what Google are up to in the mobile market and I wonder if that might tell us something about whether user metrics are important (and maybe how they get them).
Mobile results on Google can differ slightly but not as much as I would expect. I don't have a mobile version of my site and consequently it is slow on the iPhone, for example, but my rankings are more or less the same, despite the fact that some competitors do have quick and easy to use mobile sites. That might suggest that Google deosn't have sufficient user metric data for mobile users yet for it to affect the results.
When I search on an iPhone I'm using Safari, I never log into my Google account and I'm using a mobile signal, occasionally wi-fi but rarely. I imagine this creates quite a barrier to obtaining on-site user metrics.
Google now have the Nexus, Chrome Mobile and Motorola. What's the main motivation behind these moves? Is it purely to push out Apple and Safari, all part of a general desire for world domination, or driven by their core business of search, and producing the best search results?
If user metrics are a key part of the algo these days, Google would be keen to get that mobile data. Especially as the share of mobile search is getting bigger and bigger. I never looked at my mobile stats until recently and I discovered 25% of my Google visitors are coming via mobile devices (mainly the Ipad). I can see that getting much bigger and bigger, and possibly there will come a time when the majority of Google searches will be made on mobile devices. If Google's algo has user metrics as its' heart, they need to become a major player in the mobile search market and quickly, which it appears they are trying to do.