Someone recently tweeted their opinion that Google Analytics data can influence search rankings. Google’s John Mueller clarified several points.
Long History of Google Analytics Data Used by Google
The idea that Google has used Google Analytics data for its own purposes is based on official statements by Google. These statements were unambiguous about Google using data from GA, but in anonymized or aggregated form.
Along the way there have been numerous allegations (but never any proof) that Google Analytics data was used for ranking purposes, such as for penalties.
Google’s Terms of Service
Google Analytics terms of service states that Google “may” use the data collected via Google Analytics:
Google Statements on Anonymized Use of GA
And in 2008, Google announced an experimental product called, Google Trends for Websites that received part of it’s data from opt-in Google Analytics accounts.
Below is a screenshot from an archive of Google’s support page that describes Google Analytics as a source of data.
Screenshot of Google Help Page
I recall there was a well known official policy regarding Google Analytics that Google used GA data in “aggregate form” but I could only find references to that statement, not the statement itself.
Why Google Purchased an Analytics Company
The reason for purchasing Urchin, which later became Google Analytics, was that it complemented Google’s PPC business. Google could create a better experience for marketers when the advertising and tracking worked closely together.
Now marketers could better calculate ROI, which helped them on the PPC side.
Google’s Vice President of Product Management said at the time:
“This technology will be a valuable addition to Google’s suite of advertising and publishing products,” Jonathan Rosenberg, Google’s vice president for product management, said in a statement announcing the deal.
Does Google Use GA for Ranking Purposes?
It’s easy to see how the idea that Google uses Analytics to influence search rankings came to be. There is a long history to this idea going as far back as 2008.
Twelve years later, the idea that Google uses GA for ranking purposes resurfaced on Twitter.
This is what was tweeted:
“I think the core argument was people used to think google search console data and google analytics were separate entities and google didn’t rank based on analytics data.
Now they are combined (even on the api side). Analytics data can help with search rankings.”
Here is the tweet:
I think the core argument was people used to think google search console data and google analytics were separate entities and google didn’t rank based on analytics data.
Now they are combined (even on the api side). Analytics data can help with search rankings.
— Jordan O'Connor (@jdnoc) July 28, 2020
John Mueller Squashes Google Analytics Myth
Google’s Webmaster Help Analyst, John Mueller stepped in and unambiguously stated that Google does not use Google Analytics data for ranking purposes:
“We don’t use Google Analytics in Search…”
John Mueller also said that Google Analytics and Google Search Console tracked data differently:
“Google Analytics & Search Console track data quite differently. SC tracks what’s shown in Search, GA tracks what happens when a user goes to a site. There’s overlap, but it’s not exact.”
We don't use Google Analytics in Search, and Google Analytics & Search Console track data quite differently. SC tracks what's shown in Search, GA tracks what happens when a user goes to a site. There's overlap, but it's not exact.
— 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) July 28, 2020
Google Does Not Use Analytics Data for Ranking Purposes
Does Google Use Google Analytics for Ranking?
Google could not be more clear: Google does not use analytics data for ranking purposes. There is no evidence to support the idea that Google uses analytics for penalizing sites or ranking sites better.
Despite clarifications and industry agreement, rumors may persist.
But it’s important to understand that there has never been any evidence to support the idea that Google uses analytics for ranking purposes.
Back in 2012, one of the top search marketing experts Ted Ulle posted this in a WebmasterWorld discussion:
“You’re assuming Google actually uses Analytics data to rank websites? I realize some people are assuming that, but I’ve seen absolutely NO hard evidence that it’s true. The idea is pure tinfoil…”
Respected search experts have consistently agreed for years that Google does not use Google Analytics for ranking purposes.
Google’s John Mueller has clearly stated that Google Analytics is not used for ranking purposes.
It is clear that Google does not use GA data for ranking purposes.
Google Analytics Terms of Service
AdAge Quote of Google Vice President of Product Management
Google Acquires Web Analytics Company Urchin Software
Ted Ulle on WebmasterWorld
Should I use Analytics so Google Can See my Happy Users?