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Debate Over CTR Data Continues Amongst SEO Specialists, Google Weighs In

The debate over click-through rate (CTR) data continues amongst SEO specialists, with recent developments and claims prompting Google to weigh in on the topic.

Britney Muller from Moz found a Google developer page that seemed to imply that Google uses CTR data as a consideration when ranking search results:

The text in question: “For example, when you click a link in Google Search, Google considers your click when ranking that search result in future queries.”

This apparent confirmation was in direct contrast to a comment by Google’s Gary Illyes on a Reddit AMA earlier in February 2019, saying, “Dwell time, CTR, whatever [Rand] Fishkin’s new theory is, those are generally made up crap. Search is much more simple than people think.”

So which is it? Does CTR matter, or is it “made up crap,” as Illyes stated?

A Google spokesperson addressed the situation, stating, “As we’ve commented on before, we use interactions in a variety of ways, such as for personalization, evaluation purposes and training data. We have nothing new or further to share here other than what we’ve long said: having great, engaging content is the right path for success. We’d encourage site owners to focus on that big picture.”

While this doesn’t clarify, exactly, whether Google considers CTR directly, their official line has always been to focus on creating great content and great websites.

It’s highly unlikely that Google uses CTR data as a core search ranking signal, though they likely use it to evaluate how their algorithms are performing.