TheMadScientist - 5:45 am on Dec 15, 2012 (gmt 0)
The search phrases must be relatively low volume for that to have any significant effect, no?
Well, probably, but not 100% necessarily, because if the clicks were relatively 'in line' and constant from general searchers (#1 get's a standard N%, #2 get's a standard N2%), but when you search you constantly click on competing sites your clicks could have more of an impact than it would seem especially with personalization and query intent grouping.
Think about it this way ... All things being 'normal' #1 usually gets a higher % of clicks than #2 and #2 more than #3, but you search on 100 terms and click on the competition for those terms but not your site ... You're inadvertently 'voting for the competition' as being 'better overall' for the queries than your site, and since they're looking at more than a single page these days, I would say your clicks (or actually lack of clicks) could matter a bit more than we might think, especially if your query intent type is 'weighted' to the terms you're trying to rank for so your clicks (overall behavior) is given more influence for the 'query intent type' you're trying to rank for than say 'average joe surfer' who has a wider variety of query intent types.
I'm not sure if I'm explaining what I'm thinking very well, so I might try again later on, but I'm thinking the cumulative clicks over multiple related queries for the same 'query intent' on a even a weekly or monthly basis, over time could possibly have more of an influence than we might think, and especially in a 'tie break' type situation where #3 is getting to the 'behavior threshold' of moving up and your behavior, not only for one search, but the site as a whole (or across multiple queries at least) indicates it's a 'more satisfying' result than your own for the same query intent type.
And, if you 'clear your cookies' so they 'don't know who you are' or otherwise disguise your behavior, then you're 'just the average joe', but if you happen to visit the competition via the results daily or weekly, then you're a visitor a day (or week) who likes every site for all the queries you make, except yours...
It depends to some extent on how they track and what they weight, but I wouldn't rule out the idea it could have an influence, especially over multiple queries over time where your site is left out of the clicks.
I mean just to remain 'on a level playing field' because of your click behavior, there has to be one searcher who 'counter acts' your clicks and likes your site but no one else's for the same queries, doesn't there? So, I think if you 'weight the field' against yourself on a regular basis across multiple queries you're at best not doing yourself any favors...