|Panda, bounce rates, and external links.|
I've been trying to improve my site's bounce rate since Panda, where I fell from averaging 20k unique visitors per day for about 10 years straight to barely 6k per day now.
One thing I've realized is that about 6 of my site's 10 most popular pages are product reviews. And, each review ends with a relevant affiliate link to that product.
This is obviously good, because people read my review, value my opinion, and go on to buy that product via my affiliate link. I make money, they get a good product. Win-win, right?
But now I'm thinking it's also hurting my bounce rate. These affiliate links get a TON of clicks (literally tens of thousands of clicks each month), and since these are some of my most popular pages, in Google's eyes it just looks like most of my visitors come, stay on one page for a couple of minutes, and leave immediately after.
I'm beginning to wonder if this is in any way the cause of my Panda related problems.
In trying to figure out a way around it, I remembered that all of my affiliate links open in the SAME window (testing has shown I get more conversions this way).
What I'm wondering is, if I set these affiliate links to open in a NEW window, would a click still count as a bounce just the same as it would if the link opened in the same window?
Or... is it possible that this change might help improve my bounce rate on these pages? (Which in turn might hopefully de-panda me to some extent in the future.)
Thanks in advance for any help.
I don't think the scenario you described is a problem in any way. The only metric that Google might be using (and even then, only in a supporting role) is click-back to the SERP. A single page view that results in an intended link click to another site is not a problem.
I want to announce it loudly, even though Google reps have also been saying it for a long time - bounce rate is too noisy a signal to be used as a ranking metric.
I have more than anecdotal info that sites that make users linger a bit before giving them the proverbial beef do better.
Bounce rate is maybe noisy, but that doesn't mean that G isn't testing it--live. Maybe they'll change their mind later but for now you could be screwed. If people stay an extra 15 seconds and visit 0.3 pages more G might say that must be a better site. Why else would they stay more and visit more pages compared to identical pages? If that's their logic we can punch the wall all we want, as our sites are nowhere to be found.
That's all I am going to say because I'm going to test this. Want what I said I have in the title? Sure, click here first and it's looooooaaaaading.
Regardless of how important bounce rate might be (and at this point I'm willing to try anything), would a click on an external link set to open in a new window count as a bounce?