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Click popularity indicates how often a website has been clicked in the search engine results. It measures the willingness of users to click a website listed in the SERPs. In contrast to link popularity, in this case only the user’s behavior in the search engine results counts, not the back links on the page. The principle applies that interesting links are clicked more often and therefore deserve a higher ranking.
The length of stay on a webpage until the user returns to the search engine is assessed as part of this. This is based on the assumption that more interest and more time are devoted to higher-quality pages.
For the assessment of click popularity, a user who clicks on a search result will first activate a counter and then be directed to the destination page. The counter stores the selection in a database. Search engines want to counteract abuse by the website operator that way as well such as the website operator himself engaging in mass-clicking on his website. In addition to the stored IP address, cookies are used as well.
Since Google or other search engines do not publish the exact criteria of their ranking, no one can say with certainty what role factors such as click popularity actually play. But there is a certain consensus that concepts such as link popularity, PageRank, domain trust and domain authority play a far greater role. A number of experts believe that click-through popularity has never been enforced, because it is too easy to manipulate (see review below). The search engine DirectHit, which introduced click popularity shortly before the turn of the millennium, was discontinued in 2002.
On the other hand, click popularity may still be relevant. For example, web pages that obtain a high ranking through other factors, may possibly get reduced again when they are clicked too infrequently.
Measures to increase click-through popularity
To increase the click popularity of a website, its operator can take the following actions without being involved in unethical methods and in accordance with the Google quality guidelines including:
- Avoiding spam and duplicate content
- Presenting unique content related to topic and target group at hand
- Using descriptive titles and meta descriptions and relevant keywords
Include * HTML tags for rich snippets in the source code which makes a website more interesting, preferred by search engines, and of course clicked more often.
The click popularity system is unquestionably vulnerable to manipulation. Paid clicks through click farms or quickly created little scam programs that perform clicks repeatedly at certain intervals, can easily distort the results. This ranking method also presupposes that a user would return to their original search engine result list after clicking on a website. But it is often the case that a search is cancelled after the first search results has been viewed. The measurement of the duration of the visit is distorted by natural factors such as distractions, lunch breaks etc.
New websites would not be able to compete with already established sites that had a lot of clicks no matter how excellent their content was.
Moreover, there is criticism that the click rate is also influenced to a large extent by the placement in the search results, and thus it cannot be an independent criterion for the value of a website.