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Can unrelated content in folders cause a high bounce rate?

 1:06 am on Jun 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

My business website has been up since early 2000 and at that time I also set up 3 folders each focused on different types of poetry (each operates like a separate site). The poetry sites have nothing to do with the focus of my main site.

I'm no longer updating them and some of the pages only have a few lines of poetry. Could they be what is causing my business site a high bounce rate? My business site is mainly articles, tutorials, and helpful tips. The poetry sites each get a lot of traffic is why I haven't moved them but now I'm wondering if I should move them to their own domain to reduce the overall bounce rate.



 2:26 am on Jun 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

I can't see how content in another directory would cause a higher bounce rate for your business site - unless you see Google sending very poorly targeted search traffic.

My question however, given your description of the situation, is what value does that poetry traffic actually have? That is, what do you lose by moving it or removing it?


 3:09 am on Jun 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

If they aren't actually subdomains AND don't have their own analytics code then yes, it would effect the bounce rate. You said directory, which is just folder to me. The pages are obviously of interest, is the traffic to them organic? You didn't mention time on page for those poetry pages either.

Another consideration is if they actually dilute the topical value of the "main" site and would do more good going away BUT if they aren't subdomains, what percentage of the total site do they make up (before you cut your site in half)? Rather than move them away or create subdomains, you could try to find creative ways to move those users from page to page and lower the bounce rate.


 4:24 am on Jun 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

If they aren't actually subdomains AND don't have their own analytics code then yes, it would effect the bounce rate.

Do you mean that because they don't have an analytics code, the traffic going there from a business page would look like a bounce when it really isn't?

I can see that, but from what I understand there is no click path from the business area to the poetry area - so traffic won't be going from business to poetry.


 5:53 am on Jun 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Do you mean that because they don't have an analytics code, the traffic going there from a business page would look like a bounce when it really isn't?
I didn't want to edit or double post earlier but this was bugging me to clarify the way I worded that.

Lorel didn't mention if the folders had seperate tracking accounts or not when they were left to themselves, no offense to the 12 1/2 years and 1500+ posts. Being in different folders and disconnected without tracking (or different analytics accounts) then they shouldn't affect the bounce rate.


 6:01 am on Jun 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thanks for clarifying - sounds like we're on the same page.


 6:08 am on Jun 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'd make sure the pages don't appear connected at all except the links back from the sub folders. If that's the total sum of the site, then I'd suspect Google might still detect some of those bounces, though not a lot.

[edited by: tedster at 5:59 pm (utc) on Jun 22, 2012]


 2:07 pm on Jun 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

To clarify - The poetry pages are in sub folders on the main site and are only linked from the main site on 1 or 2 pages. Gwmt counts all those pages as a part of the main site - a total of 382 pages with the main part of the site only taking up about 100 pages. So If I move them I'll loose a major portion of the site. I get about 5,600 visitors to the poetry pages per month so I'd also loose a lot of traffic that occasionally goes to the main part of the site. I also rank in top 10 for a lot of keywords on those poetry pages. Traffic to both business and poetry sites is organic except for maybe 5% referrals and most of the traffic is from Google.

I didn't even think to set the poetry pages up separately in GWMT. Is this something that will help the main site or hurt it?


 2:35 pm on Jun 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

My original thought was that GWMT was giving the poetry page bounces credit from time to time because I've seen that from subfolders that are actually old, and linked, subdomains and also from experimenting with not including the GA code in index pages, but not EVERY hit. Sounds like they made it "smart" enough" to do you a "favor" keeping track.

Not sure that adding more javascript, even GA code, is a good thing. Hope this isn't a dumb question but are all those top 10's for the subfolders related to the main site topic or directly to the subjects on page? It's hard to tell you to alter anything about them except it would be a great way to "show proof" of your skills from the main site. I'd say, again, play with finding ways to at least get another internal click from users, something like a little image at eye level "Like What You See? Click To Learn More...." and take them to your galleries of related works.

[edited by: tedster at 4:51 pm (utc) on Jun 22, 2012]


 4:29 pm on Jun 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

The top 10s from the Poetry sites are related to the terms on the page and not the main site.

When I go to WMT and click on search queries and sort by Avg position, a lot of my poetry pages are ranking on the first page in G (out of about 40 terms ranking on the first page about 1/2 of them are from the poetry pages). However my main website was hit by Panda as of last July (traffic is down by 1/3 what it used to be) so that's not a true measure of what it used to be. I still have several pages from main site ranking on first page but usually not my main targeted keywords.

I'm just trying to decide if these poetry pages are hurting my main site or if they are helping through having more pages/links back to the main site.

I will try to interlink the poetry pages more. So far I've only done it in the footer.


 4:33 pm on Jun 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

When you "site:" me, my poetry pages come up before the rest of my main site pages, except my home page. I've been concerned about this too, i.e., google may think my main focus is poetry - I do have a recent BA in English Creative writing and that's the reason for the poetry but I'm not doing that any more.

[edited by: tedster at 4:52 pm (utc) on Jun 22, 2012]


 4:49 pm on Jun 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Conversely: If you have a page without tracking code, and people go from there to a page with tracking code after entering the site on the without-code page, it will look as if they entered your site "cold"-- as from a bookmark or type-in. To me that comes out looking positive; it means the site is getting word-of-mouth and not just search-engine hits.

That's assuming Google Analytics interprets data the same way piwik does. I know it took me a while to figure out why analytics and logs seemed to give different information.

It's also assuming that Google interprets things the way humans do. "This site must be good if people go there on their own" versus "They don't need us, because they'll go there anyway."


 4:54 pm on Jun 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

I was thinking of a reply and a way to justify the suggestion to to add an additional image link, perhaps moving the text link to images at the top, using the current text as the alt for the image would keep the textual balance too (you're only adding an image rather than image/alt=text/link). Users like being told what to do or getting instructions, the text for the image I suggested might not be exactly what you need but it's an opportunity to add a call-to-action for you and get the link within clicking range while getting away from having footer links, it might add some value to the text "web design" as well.

[edited by: Str82u at 5:13 pm (utc) on Jun 22, 2012]


 4:59 pm on Jun 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

lucy24 - I should have added to Lorel's next to last post, if the site: shows like it does, Google's not seeing them as seperate sites, She's getting those bounces from pages without code as initial pageviews on the domain, clicking from them is pageview #2, not cold.

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