I wrote this post as a comment on Barry Welford’s blog, and it got so long and involved that I realized it would make a great blog post right here…especailly since it really is the foundion on which I wrote the Sticky SEO ebook.
Bounce rate is a great measurement of performance, of the usefulness of a website. It is not the only one, as has already been discussed, and on its own would be a poor measurement. Leaving a site through an affiliate link (or any other link) should not be considered a bounce. It should be considered an external referral.
Whenever anybody clicks on a result in Google, there are four potential next actions.
Bouncing back to Google, especially after only 3 – 5 seconds, is a sign that Google had served up a less-than-useful result. Not good news for ranking well.
Referring to a deeper link in the site (an interior page) is as Barry says “normally a confirmation that they are finding something of interest”. Good, job Google; keep ranking that page for the search that was just performed.
Referring to an external link is also a sign that the searcher found something useful on that page, which is why for SEO the New York Times is making a wise decision. Searcher happy, Google happy. Keep on ranking.
Closing the browser window. Yes, that is the fourth option, which means simply that the searcher’s wife just called, “Honey, dinner is ready.” (Hopefully that won’t affect rankings one way or the other, or else we’ll need a kitchen-centric SEO strategy in the future.
Written by David Leonhardt
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