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I have a website where I sell a web app. So once user comes to the site (example.com for example), they can pay via PayPal and after we send a confirmation email to their PayPal address and then set up their app within 24 hours on example.com/dashboard

I have read a number of times that after someone comes to your site from Google and spends much time on site, it’s good for SEO.

But since users are redirected to pay, does that affect SEO? If we can automate the process and users can directly log into the app after payment, does that count as one session on the site and improve SEO in any way?

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The page of your site that you want to rank high in SEO should not be the same page that redirects to paypal. For example, if your site has a homepage, a products page and a generic "checkout" page (which directs to paypal for the purchase) then you want to rank high in search results for the first two and not the last one. Checkout and cart pages have no generic meaning since they end up different for each visitor, where as your home page and products page are pages whose information and content you want to appear as high as possible.

Your visitor's session duration is a site-wide metric and not a page only. So if they hit your homepage, then go to your product page and then proceed to a checkout page which directs to paypal you are safe compared to a scenario where they hit your homepage and immediately click an outbound link.

To sum it up, yes, low session duration affects your SEO. But you don't (shouldn't) want to score high SEO ranking for checkout/cart pages, actually you add noindex for pages like these so they are not followed at all (no reason to have your empty cart page appear on search results pages). If you focus on good SEO ranking for your homepage/products page your site will not be affected by a low SEO ranking for the one page that redirects to pay pal.

On the other side, is your site a single page application where the homepage is also the product page and at the same time the page from which the user gets redirected to paypal? If that is the case you will have more trouble getting a good SEO ranking and also your fears may be more valid as single page applications require some different architecture for getting a good SEO ranking. If this is indeed the case, you should give us more details, but even then, you can consider the usage of nofollow tag for the paypal redirection, a pop up window/modal for the purchase or something else that suits your case.

  • Yes, it's one-page site and users are redirected to paypal from there. After they return to success page, I have added no-follow, no-index to that page. But since I am sending the app details after a few hours, Users keep using the app from domain.com/dashboard, daily. So would google know that same user who landed on the homepage is using the app and count is as good SEO practice? And thaks so much for your input, It's really helpful! – V3King Jun 12 '18 at 9:51
  • I don't think there is a way for google to know that a specific user that once landed to your page before purchasing anything is the same user that now uses it. If the domain.com/dashboard is a page that only registered users should be able to access, then it is a good practice to not have it indexed. Apart from that, focus on building a good SEO ranking for your domain.com. – Σπύρος Γούλας Jun 12 '18 at 9:59
  • Okay, thanks for the advice. Will use your suggestions for sure. – V3King Jun 12 '18 at 10:11
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Google doesn't measure time spent on site directly as an SEO metric. For most sites, Google has no way of knowing how long the users spend on the site after clicking from the Google search results. Even when Google Analytics is installed, Google says they don't use data from it for SEO purposes.

What Google does care about is a user satisfaction. Google can measure the "bounce back rate". That is the number of users that quickly bounce back from your site to the Google search results and look at alternatives. So yes, it is good when users spend time on your site, but the only way that makes SEO better is because they are not leaving quickly and dissatisfied.

If the only option on your site is to pay, that will certainly hurt your SEO. You will be able to rank for your brand name, but on other more general terms most new users will be immediately leave your site when they see they have to pay.

There are some things you can do to help:

  • Provide a free trial
  • Create a demo
  • Add non-app content that isn't behind a paywall:
    • tutorials
    • documentation
    • marketing material
    • blog posts
    • articles about the problems your app solves
    • comparisons to other apps
  • Create a clear pricing structure on your pricing page

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