One of my forum sites has terrible bounce rate and pages/visit . I recently discovered something that grabs users attention, and lowers that bounce rate by ~5% and ups the pages/visit by ~15%. However, this is at a cost of ads not being clicked nearly as much.
So should I keep the change and hope that rankings improve because of the 'happier' visitors that Google sees, and hope that traffic goes up to make up the difference in lost ad revenue?
So should I keep the change and hope that rankings improve because of the 'happier' visitors that Google sees...
How do you think Google can actually "see" the difference?
They have repeatedly stated they do not have access to Analytics data to use in the algo, and if they did, switching from Analytics would "close their eyes", so how are you thinking they have any clue your visitors visited another page on your site more frequently than before you made the change?
And, if they did know, how could they definitively interpret another page view which gives you a lower bounce rate indicates the visitor is happier with the result when it could just as easily indicate the visitor couldn't find what they were looking for on the landing page so they viewed another page meaning it was worse result for the query after the change?
Bottom Line: I'd try to make sure visitors are finding what they're looking for easily and forget about trying to manipulate numbers Google likely doesn't have access to algorithmically and if they do have access to them interpreting what they indicate correctly at a high enough rate to be used in scoring is very unlikely.
While Google may not know exact numbers for bounce and pages/visit, I would imagine they keep track of search refinement. If a user clicks through to a site, then 20 seconds later does a refinement related the the original search, then Google can probably figure out that the user didn't find what they were looking for by clicking through to the site.
So the person viewing one page more or less on your site means nothing in that case.
Either the search ended on your site or it didn't.
Even in your own example page views and bounce rate don't mean anything wrt rankings, so why worry about manipulating the numbers rather than making sure the visitor is happy and ending the search for them?