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Does Global Bounce Rate Affect Local Search Credibility?


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24 replies to this topic

#1 Andy1342

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Posted 05 November 2013 - 04:17 AM

My product is local, so all I'm interested in are searches for "Myproduct Mytown". For these searches, the bounce rate is around 50%. However, these make up only a small portion of the total hits on the site, and the overall bounce rate including international visitors in whom I have not the faintest interest, is around 80%. This is due in part to single-page resources on the site which rank highly, people visit these resources then bounce off.

 

If the local bounce rate, including "Mytown" keyword, is OK, is the overall bounce rate a problem? IE will the overall bounce rate make Google think the site in thin or puke-inducing in terms of local search, or otherwise impact the local search credibility?

 

Cheers

 

Andy



#2 Alan Perkins

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Posted 05 November 2013 - 04:37 AM

Search engines aren't going to know your bounce rate. They may be able to take a reasonable guess at "Time spent on site", but even then searchers make things difficult for them, e.g. by opening multiple search results in multiple tabs, bookmarking for reading later, getting distracted, etc. And sometimes less time spent on site is a good thing. So, I would not worry too much - simply focus on making a site that your target audience will find useful and, ideally, create links to.


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#3 lesterj1

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Posted 05 November 2013 - 08:53 AM

I agree with Alan and would add this.  The search engines can know when someone clicks a listing and then click back into the search results.  So, they can get a sense of a "bounce-back" rate from that, though there are inherent weaknesses to that signal as Alan outlined.  But if the search engines were to use that bounce rate (as described above), it's important to note that it's specific to the search query, not your overall site bounce rate.  So, they may use that info to raise or drop your site from a specific keyword SERP, but not your rankings for other keywords.  In other words, a high bounce-back rate may cause the search engines to decide that a site isn't relevant to a keyword and remove it from the top results, but it wouldn't indicate that the site is poor in general.  If Nike.com ranked well for Christmas trees, it wouldn't relevant and would have a high bounce-back rate, but it doesn't mean Nike.com is a poor site and shouldn't rank well for shoes.

 

REMOVED


Edited by chrishirst, 05 November 2013 - 02:37 PM.


#4 chrishirst

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Posted 05 November 2013 - 02:47 PM

The search engines can know when someone clicks a listing and then click back into the search results

 

Actually, no they don't, all they can tell is that a particular cookie ID,  clicked on more than one result. The "back button" sends no signals to the server so there is no "bounce" that is ever recorded. It's difficult for anyone, even Google, to make a judgement on information that they don't actually have or ever get.



#5 Mikl

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Posted 06 November 2013 - 06:47 AM

May I jump in with a related question?

 

What exactly is a "bounce rate"? What does it purport to measure?

 

Some of the above posts talk about the number of visitors who go from SERPs to the target site and then back to SERPs. But clearly there must be more to it than that.

 

So, does bounce rate measure the percentage of visitors who leave your site within a given time? Or who leave your site before visiting a given number of pages? Or some variation of that?

 

Actually, what I would really like to know is: Why does it matter? Why are people (well, some people) so pre-occupied with measuring - and reducing - the bounce rate?

 

I know this is a very basic question, but I am still very much a non-expert in this field.

 

Mike



#6 Jill

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Posted 06 November 2013 - 08:46 AM

Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who see one page of the site only.



#7 Mikl

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Posted 06 November 2013 - 09:50 AM

Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who see one page of the site only.

 

Thanks, Jill.

 

So, my next question is: Why does it matter? Why is a high bounce rate seen as a negative?

 

After all, the goal of most websites is to convert a visitor to a "customer" (in the widest sense of the word). So surely it's no bad thing if that happens on the page on which the visitor lands. On that basis, a high bounce rate could be seen as a positive. It might suggest that you have been able to "convert" your visitor straight away, without them having to navigate to another page.

 

Sorry if I'm not explaining this very well. I hope I'm making sense.

 

Mike



#8 Michael Martinez

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Posted 06 November 2013 - 01:33 PM

Thanks, Jill.
 
So, my next question is: Why does it matter? Why is a high bounce rate seen as a negative?

Because people are looking for indications of high or low quality on their Websites and bounce rate -- which is NOT an indicator of quality -- is an easily available metric. It is also a highly inaccurate metric.

When it comes to calibrating a Website's relationship with search engines, bounce rate brings nothing useful to the discussion.

A 100% bounce rate could reflect nothing more than people who are completely satisfied with what they find.

A 0% bounce rate could reflect nothing more than people who don't find what they are looking for but click deeper into a Website.

But the real problem with "bounce rate" analysis is that most people just look at the aggregated data, rather than digging down into page-level bounce rates and using them to analyze user engagement with a Website (something the search engines CANNOT DO).
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#9 chrishirst

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Posted 06 November 2013 - 04:08 PM

"Bounce rate" is a meaningless metric unless analysed along with a particular traffic source, and it is purely a metric for a single URL not a site metric as Google have turned into by making it prominent when they bought and rebranded Urchin as Google Analytics.

 

What I keep pointing out is that if they have a lead generating site, affiliate site or advert filled documents then a 100% 'bounce rate' is absolutely fantastic, because it could be that every visitor left via an advert, thus 100% 'bounce' rate may also equal 100% conversion rate.


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#10 Michael Martinez

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Posted 06 November 2013 - 05:39 PM

For what it's worth, Chris is describing is what I call one of the "Directions of Exit".  There are four directions of exit:

 

  • The user clicks through to a deeper page

  • The user clicks out to another Website

  • The user closes the browser window

  • The user clicks on the BACK button

 

Any one of those directions of exit could produce a 100% bounce rate for a Website, even the first (if you omit your analytics code from the page being entered from the landing page).  A commonplace mistake is that people don't embed analytics code on their order pages, so the users "vanish" deeper into the site but look like they have left.



#11 Mikl

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Posted 07 November 2013 - 06:54 AM

Michael and Chris,

 

Thank you for your very helpul answers. You confirmed what I suspected. Unlike so many people who claim to be experts in SEO and Internet marketing, you clearly know what you are talking about.

 

Mike



#12 Jill

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Posted 07 November 2013 - 09:16 AM

 

So, my next question is: Why does it matter? Why is a high bounce rate seen as a negative?

 

 

 

As the others have said and as you also surmised, for the most part, it doesn't matter.

 

Now, that said, it depends on the URL. If a particular page is supposed to lead people to another page, then a high bounce rate on the first page would indicate a problem, at least in terms of getting people to the page you want to get them to.

 

But for some types of pages, people are simply going to read them, get the info they wanted and leave. And that's okay. Although, it wouldn't hurt to have some sort of little conversions on every page as well, like signing up for a newsletter, etc. 



#13 Andy1342

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Posted 07 November 2013 - 09:46 AM

Thank you everyone for this. The reason it came up is my my quite milk-and-water little site has bombed badly in Penguin/Pelican. The site was anyway stale so I said "yes" when a local company said, "the best thing is a fresh start."

 

So a new, Drupal-based site is coming. I'm a bit troubled that I can't get a clear answer from them what was wrong with the SEO of the old site.  I guess they are focussed on the new one, fair enough, but I'd like to be reassured that the new one won't inherit the problems of the previous. The answer they give is always "bounce rate". My competitors have very simple sites (and I'm quite sure, no elaborate social marketing strategy). So the theory seems to be that my site has too MUCH content, and so I get a lot of one-page visit from international hits irrelevant to my local search target audience.

 

I know we are changing the topic of the OP here but is it possible for a site with 70 pages to do worse for a specific local search than a site with 5 or 10 pages for this reason? I thought the whole point was lots of usable content?



#14 chrishirst

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Posted 07 November 2013 - 01:16 PM

I thought the whole point was lots of usable content?

 

No, just "usable" and worthwhile content, trying to spread content too thinly usually makes it "less than useful".



#15 Jill

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Posted 07 November 2013 - 01:17 PM

but I'd like to be reassured that the new one won't inherit the problems of the previous

 

It certainly could if the previous problems were related to unnatural links. 

 

I don't know why they would bring up bounce rate as something to do with why your site would have been hurt via a panda or penguin (not pelican!) update, however. Sounds like they're just blowing some smoke up your ass.

 

 

So the theory seems to be that my site has too MUCH content, and so I get a lot of one-page visit from international hits irrelevant to my local search target audience.

 

And there's the smoke!

 

I know we are changing the topic of the OP here but is it possible for a site with 70 pages to do worse for a specific local search than a site with 5 or 10 pages for this reason?

It's of course possible, but the size of the site would have nothing to do with it. 

 

The only thing I can think of that perhaps they were talking about is if you had created very specific "search engine pages" for like every keyword phrase imaginable in your space. Where most of the pages were very similar, other than the keywords. If this is what you had, then yes, you'd want to consolidate them.

 

But again, that has nothing to do with bounce rate.






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