It’s said that Google actually uses click data for rankings. According to software engineer Eric Lehman, Google’s former employee who testified in court last week, “Everyone knows Google uses user data”. Furthermore, Google employees were supposedly instructed to “not discuss the use of clicks in search”.
Note: by “click data” we mean the aggregation of a user’s tracked behavior, not data about clicks in SERP. It makes a difference, doesn’t it?
What does this information mean for you? (And for Google, of course)
Not much, actually; it’s nothing confirmed (at least not yet), but there’s a chance that in the future Google will have to face the problem it created for itself. Since Google owns a lot of user data right now, it has a significant advantage over its competitors. As long as it was kept secret (or, at least, as secret as possible), the competitors didn’t have much room to create better search machines. Can we expect that other companies will try to find ways to gather more user data in the future to gain an advantage over Google? Certainly.
Also, is understanding that clicks impact SERPs equal to manipulating search results? Not exactly. Therefore, you can try to implement as many user-friendly solutions on your website to not only hope for the best but actually get better results and reach higher positions.