Hal Varian, Google Chief Economist, kicked off what he calls "an occasional series that discusses how we harness the data we collect"
After a short introduction to the history of search featuring PageRank he notes how over the years Google has "added more than 200 additional signals"
He raises and of course doesn't completely answer the question where those signals come from. He suggests that at least some of them come from looking at user behavior:
- What results do people click on?
- How does their behavior change when we change aspects of our algorithm?
The other tiny nugget in the post is "We're constantly experimenting with our algorithm, tuning and tweaking on a weekly basis"
What kind of behavior can we imagine them looking at?
- Time: how long is a searcher staying on the search result page.
- Time: how fast does the searches come back to the search result page?
- Scrolling: how much of the page is the searcher looking at.
- Mouse movement: reading? scanning?
The way I see it, we all have a little bit of influence on Google. Every URL we create, every page title we craft is content for a search engine result page.
Given that search engines don't always go with our meta description, the parts we have the most influence over are title and URL.
Those two elements should be seen not only within the context of on-page optimization but also in the context of in-SERP call to action.
The title should be crafted to entice, to encourage people to click on it.
The URL should be constructed so it contains relevant information. Is short, simple, clean and thus conveys authority and helps put the same message before the searcher again.