There is mounting evidence that user metrics and social signals are playing an ever increasing role in how Google determines website quality. While I do not believe Google Analytic data is used directly to rank web content, I do think it is a great insight into what Google is “learning” about your site via user experience.
With evil black and white animals lurking around every corner it is pertinent to pay attention to any data source and metric that Google may find interesting. Especially a data source that vets its users and is transparent with Big G. The Data Hub contains many perfect examples of this type of source.
Optimally a Data Hub visitor will visit your website, add an additional signal to your social profile through a share or like, see something interesting and visit the additional page to share again. An interaction like this originating from a transparent data site proves the usefulness/helpfulness of your site content via a neutral 3rd party (read social media or, even better, Google authorship link).
The opposite side of that coin goes a little something like this:
A visitor lands on your page during peak traffic hours and experiences site lag for six seconds due to a remote server call for an advertisement then hits their back button and returns directly back to the Data Hub Partner they entered from. Unfortunately the share source that drove this user to your web content is very active and drives many other users to the same content at nearly the same time as.
These individual visits/interactions have just shown Google a lack of content quality in one case and a great website in the other. Does Google now determine that there is some form of social signal manipulation going on in the negative example or do they just add more Panda bait to your Panda cage? These type of interactions can be controlled to some extent if you are aware when they happen which leads us back to why you need to monitor Data Hub usage of your web content.
Thoughts on User Metrics or Social Signaling? Please share via comments below.