Google's New Popularity Measurement; Traffic Versus Links

Apr 10, 2006 • 8:06 am | comments (4) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

There is a fresh thread at WebmasterWorld named Google algo moves away from links, towards traffic patterns. This reinforces what many have been saying for the past year or so. Google's popularity came from using linkage data and PageRank to score how popular a Web page is. Times are changing and algorithms need to shift. Linkage data, although incredibility important, is not the complete future of Web page popularity. Traffic is where the popularity is heading, and Google is trying to lead the pack to it.

How does Google measure traffic of a Web site? They can look at dozens of factors, including clicks from the SERPs to your page, and then back. They can use the Google Toolbar data, AdSense data, AdWords data, Analytics (although they would never), and so on. Just keep thinking....

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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Chris Beasley

04/10/2006 01:37 pm

Thats just silly. Webmaster World is so full of hairbrained theories and this is just another one. Lets not get ahead of ourselves and start thinking that all the anonymous people at WMW run Google. If people like Daniel Brandt thought PageRank made it too hard for new sites before... how loudly do you think he'll rant about using traffic to rank sites? The sites with better rankings get more traffic. Google Toolbar data? Right... we all know how accurate alexa ratings are. Does anyone actually look at Alexa rankings and think "You know... this would be a better serp." Then there are of course content aspects to it. How do you qualify traffic? With links you can do it by the anchor text, context of the link, subject of the linking page, etc. There is no context for most traffic. A site showing Britney Speares nude is probably going to be much more popular than her official website, both sites would be largely about Britney in on-page factors, links would probably be around the same, so then as long as the surfer doesn't have safesearch turned on one would expect the nude site to come up first... Is that a good SERP? Now sure, its obviously Google is using SERP CTRs as a form of quality control, but to say that it is going to surpass links in importance is just ridiculous. If you go back and look at all of the crackpot theories about SEO that never came to fruition you'll find most had their start at Webmaster World, and this is one isn't going to be any different.

Barry Schwartz

04/10/2006 01:41 pm

Gotta as least enjoy it Chris.

Chris Beasley

04/10/2006 01:42 pm

I should also say that if anyone knows where all these people buy their crystal balls at, I'd really like to know. I don't work for Google, and I don't have a crystal ball. So I don't have the audacity to think up how I would like a search engine to be run and say it is going to happen. Look at outgoing links, people have been saying for 3,4,5 years that Google is going to start using outgoing links as much as or more than incoming links and there is still no proof of that such a thing. No one is climbing the SERPs by linking to authorities. Then again... maybe I don't want my own crystal ball... since the people using them don't seem to get anything right.

Michael Martinez

04/11/2006 04:31 pm

This is just more speculative crap from WMW. It's not worth delving into just because a few SEOs think Google wants to track traffic. Traffic doesn't tell you anything about relevance. The search industry should have learned that from the DirectHit fiasco.

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