Filed Under:  U.S. & World

Can “Crowdsearching” Really Improve Your Rankings?

Contributed by on January 20, 2015 at 2:18 pm

Many people in speech bubbles saying the word Crowdsource to illSEOs have long speculated that CTR affects rankings. And it’s easy to see why: if a site has a high click through rate, it must be relevant to whatever the user is searching for – right? Google incorporates hundreds of signals into its search algorithms. It’s a safe bet that click-through rate is one of them. The question is: how important of a factor is it?

If you’ve read any of the case studies about CTR and rankings on the web, you might think it’s a pretty important factor.

Back in May, Rand Fishkin experimented with CTR and its effects on rankings. He asked people on Twitter to search for “IMEC Lab,” and click on his blog. A few hours and 228 clicks later, his post went from #7 to #1 in the search results.

Was this a definitive test? No. Other factors may have been at play here, like social signals from Twitter. But the results do give us some indication that CTR is a factor in rankings.

Now, a new SEO approach is attempting to take advantage of this: Crowdsearching.

What is “Crowdsearching”?

The crowdsearching concept is simple: you hire people to search for your site on Google and click on your result. And these ‘crowd searchers’ do more than just click on your site. They’ll also stay on your site for a certain period of time to increase what they call “dwell time”.

Crowdsearching kills two birds with one stone. It increases your click-through rate. At the same time, it reduces your bounce rate. From an outside perspective, it looks like more people are visiting your site and enjoying your content.

Google – being user-oriented – wants users to stay on your site.

If you’re thinking that this new SEO tactic sounds too good to be true, you’re probably right. Why? Because crowdsearching falls right into the category of manipulation tactics that we all know Google frowns on. After all, these aren’t real users who are clicking on your site. They’re paid surfers.

Crowdsearching in the Long-Term

Is crowdsearching something SEOs can use long-term? Probably not. Some people have seen mixed results with this tactic. Others have seen their rankings skyrocket. But will the results last?

Both Penguin and Panda have taught us all a lesson: you can’t manipulate your way to high rankings – for long.

If Google hasn’t already taken steps to counter crowdsearching, there’s a chance they will in the near future – especially now that this method is out in the open.

Even if CTR does factor into rankings, it’s probably not a heavy signal. Google knows that click-through rates can be manipulated. Drastic measures have already been taken to stop link manipulation. It’s safe to assume that CTR manipulation will be treated the same.

Crowdsearching has yet to pick up major steam in the SEO world. With Google punishing manipulative tactics routinely, it’s a technique that many SEOs will shy away from for fear of penalization.

Time will tell if Crowdsearching should be one of the tools in your SEO toolbox.

For now, it may be better to focus on getting natural clicks. Appealing titles and meta descriptions for your content will take more time and effort, but will naturally lead to a higher CTR.

One thing that Crowdsearching does stress is that CTR may be more important with search rankings than previously thought.

Your Thoughts

Do you think crowdsearching is a long-term strategy, or is it just another “fly-by-night” tactic?