Regular readers will know that I have been in a somewhat involved debate on this blog and over at Sphinn on the issue of bounce rates as they might now or later on apply to SEO. I maintain that is a matter of business necessity that search engines would try to more precisely measure user satisfaction with each result of each search phrase, and that bounce rates would be one metric they could use. Frequent readers will also know that I do not view “bounce rates” as a simple number or as a static pass-fail type of calculation. It would be a ridiculously simplistic algorithm that calculates bounces using such simple calculations, in my humble opinion.
Recently, Web Pro News reported that Google answers bounce rates questions. In fact, two separate answers were provided, one that relates to SEO and the other that relates to Google Analytics. Many webmasters will confuse the two and we all know that’s how false rumors get started — the kind of false rumors that years from now will be reported as fact by many people calling themselves “SEO expert”.
It is possible that Google Analytics and SEO are related or will be related, but don’t bank on it. Here is what Adam Lasnik of Google has to say specifically about bounce rates and SEO.
If you’re talking about bounce rates in the context of Google Analytics, I’m afraid you probably know as much as I do. I love the product, but don’t know the ins-and-outs of it very thoroughly.
If you’re talking about bounce rates in the context of Google web search and webmaster-y issues, then we really don’t have specific guidance on bounces per se; rather, the key for webmasters is to make users happy so they find your site useful, bookmark your site, return to your site, recommend your site, link to your site, etc. Pretty much everything we write algorithmically re: web search is designed to maximize user happiness, so anything webmasters do to increase that is likely to improve their site’s presence in Google.
The bottom line is that you want to do all the things that we talk about in Sticky SEO to keep people on your website, to engage them in your website, to send Google and other search engines signals that they found your website to be useful. And, of course, you want to reduce the number of visitors who send the search engines signals that your website is useless.
Just for information, here is my post on objections to ranking based partially on bounce rates.Written by David Leonhardt
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