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0 second site visits... affecting bounce rate and visit length

 12:54 am on Apr 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

I was perusing G analytics and decided to sort my All Traffic by visit length (lowest to highest) and in just one day counted nearly 50 visits from almost as many different domains that had a visit time of 00:00 , 1 page, and of course a bounce rate of 100%. There were literally over 1000 in the last month driving up our bounce rate and visitor time down unrealistically. ALL listed as /referrals type. Naturally this instantly made me think of PPC spammers (many were from shady sites and parked sites that might carry ads which we buy from some of the cheaper PPC adsites) however a couple were actually from my own other websites! A couple were from G.se, G.de and G.co.il as well as a couple of the other large SEs.
If G is using Bounce rate, time/pages on site, etc. as part of it's ranking algorithm, then this can be an important issue.
Any thoughts what else could be happening to create these? I didn't think GAnalytics tracks spiders and bots in this area. I've temporarily deactivated the PPC campaigns to see if it makes a difference.


Robert Charlton

 7:27 am on Apr 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

What you're reporting brings to mind a thread that's been going on since late February in our Website Analytics forum. You might want to take a look at it and see if it's similar to what you're experiencing....

Logs Show Surge, but Not Human?
http://www.webmasterworld.com/analytics/4420174.htm [webmasterworld.com]

I don't want to start a second thread on the topic of figuring out what that mystery traffic is. That discussion should be continued in the current Analytics forum thread.

But the question about whether the high bounce traffic you're seeing might be affecting your Google rankings is a good one for this forum and is appropriate here.

Andy Langton

 10:01 am on Apr 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

As far as bounce rate and impact on rankings goes, my opinion would be that "bounce rate from search" (i.e. returns to the SERPs after a result click) is a logical metric to use, but bounce rate more generally would be far too noisy to be useful for a search engine like Google.

The last time I looked at correlation between bounces and rankings, I didn't find anything of note. Of course, a "bounce rate profile" - or what is an acceptable rate of bounces is also likely to depend on search keywords. I find informational traffic always has a much higher bounce rate. And this is natural, and not especially a bad thing, since if a user wants an answer, and gets it immediately, they will bounce


 10:42 am on Apr 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

As far as impact on search results, Google is almost certainly measuring user satisfaction with your site by determining how many users click back to the search results, how many users refine their search query, and how many users click to some other site from the SERPs after yours.

On one of my sites, we have 100,000 products. We noticed that we couldn't seem to rank for the product name in some cases, no matter how often we linked to the product internally, even when the SERP landscape wasn't that competitive. After looking through tens of examples, we saw a pattern. Sparse product pages were hard to rank, while product pages with lots of content were easier to rank. In our case, content was a lot more than text, in fact the only real textual content was customer reviews. We also had, photos, price lists, accessory lists, spec sheets, a map of where to buy locally, star ratings, external product information links, official site links, targeted ads, and photos. We hypothesized that Google was somehow able to measure the amount of content on the page and ranked us accordingly. We couldn't come up with a plausible algorithm that Google was using to detect content directly. We decided to see if bounce rate differed based on amount of content on the product page. (We send ad clicks and external link clicks through a on-site redirect that our analytics sees, so those clicks are counted as a second page view and those visits don't count as "bounced".) We discovered that a full product page with every type of content and 10s of photos and reviews would have a 10% bounce rate. A product page with just the title of the product and no other content would have a 70% bounce rate. Every piece of content that was added to a page reduced the bounce rate, and there was a sliding scale between the 10% and 70% based on how many types and how much content. The bounce rate correlated almost perfectly with rankings.

On another site I've worked with, its a simple facts site where we try to highlight the answer that the user was searching for front and center on the landing page. Because users find what they want quickly without clicking around, that site has an 80% bounce rate, but still ranks very well. We can't really measure it, but we suspect that very few users hit the back button.


 11:41 am on Apr 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

E-commerce site with products . Pages with bounce rate 90% ranking very well if unique , > 300 words and relevant . Pages with bounce rate 50% not ranking because of thin content , not relevant etc
Could be a ranking factor but not an important one


 6:46 pm on Apr 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

As far as bounce rate and impact on rankings goes, my opinion would be that "bounce rate from search" (i.e. returns to the SERPs after a result click) is a logical metric to use, but bounce rate more generally would be far too noisy to be useful for a search engine like Google.

Theoretically SERPs bounce can be as noisy as the general bounce and artificially created. Under normal circumstances should not be ignored and helps rectifying problems, but I don't know if it's the case with the OP.

Worth checking for connectivity issues with the server around that time.


 9:34 pm on Apr 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

Some of my own sites have had very high bounce rates since the get-go, because in many cases the user gets all the information he needs in one pageview. Traffic from Google has doubled every year so I'm pretty sure it's not been seen as a poor quality signal. But since I'm pretty sure I'm the authority site on these topics, the user is not likely to go back to the SERPs to search again; maybe that's what Google is looking at.

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