Simsi - 9:22 pm on Feb 10, 2013 (gmt 0)
@1script: It's hard to guess just how complex Google's algo is obviously but many signals must combine with, and rely on, other signals to be triggered or to formulate.
It's possible that for your particular datasheet search example, Google doesn't regard page views as a logical signal and by extension, time on site increased by moving through pages might therefore become irrelevant. Speculation of course but in which case, the good rankings might be based on other factors.
I mean, if you say it's possible no-one has the answer to a query, then you could argue that no site in that niche is good and Google might - for all we know - realise there is no answer and just leave it to it's own devices! OK so that is extreme, but either way, someone has to rank top and if every site is useless, what does it matter to Google who does?
But that might be different in another niche/vertical. Which I guess is my point in relation to the opening question. These user behaviour signals might only be in use where Google knows they are strong indicators of quality.
Look, we all know that Google's algos are far from perfect. They know that too I'm sure. But they are constantly moving forward, even if that means the odd step back every now and again.
But one thing we can be sure of is that any signal that can be manipulated will be targetted sooner or later. SO if people are trying to manipulate page views and time on site at the detriment of user experience, it's a risky strategy that has a shelf-life and may even lead to bigger issues.
If my competitors were doing that, I might even be quietly optimistic, although I said that about link building 6 years ago and it's only now that the Penguin seems to have rewarded my patience lol.