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People coming in through book marks and direct URL stay longer. But the people who really stay and explore the site come in through links from related sites.
We always talk about getting links from related sites to help us in search engine results but we might be underestimating these links in terms of direct traffic.
My guess would be that they aren't visiting via your target keywords and are in fact coming in on some off-target keyword combination that your site just happens to rank well on.
Another reason they may appear to only be visiting one page is that your site is taking far to long to load and they are simply hitting the back button. Is your host overloaded? Is your site very graphics intensive?
The other possibility of course is that your site is scaring them away. This could be the case if your site is overloaded with ads or otherwise looks spammy. Also, personally 1 attempted pop-up or pop-under from any site gets me on the back button fast. (Even though I do block them, it's the attempt that ticks me off.)
The SERPS are just a list of sites that a match their keyword search. Given the poor quality of the SERPS in general lately people may have less trust in their results and are sick of being taken to a bad (but highly SEO'd) page. If you can't hook them in a couple of seconds they are gone assuming that they just found another dud.
Just a tip from personal experience based on your description of your site. Assuming that your site is highly textual in nature. Put a nice on-topic pic within your content, preferrably a human face. It will make them pause on your site for a while. They simply can't help themselves.
Also do a search for "eye tracking study" so you put your "hook" in the right spot on the page.
Someone following a link is ready to find the same information after going through a few pages. It is also perhaps more likely that he is not searching one really specific information but want someting more general.
If you can get the information, try to see which keyword people are using to get in your website. Then perhaps try to appear on keywords a bit less specific about a subject.
One more thing, it is perhaps not a bad thing, as after finding what they wanted they might keep your website under their favorites.
Nevertheless these are just speculations ;)
There are at least three different kinds of visitors to my site. People coming from SEs, who tend to come to one of a few pages, read it, and leave. People who are regulars, who look to see what's new, and leave. And people coming from other sites, who haven't seen the site before, and spend a lot of time browsing.
I have made some adjustments to the site to take into account the different wants of these visitors....
All those other methods are used by people that want to go to your site. Search engines are more likely to be people looking for some new place that they have not been before.
If you think of it like having a store in a big mall (I know, it's an imperfect analogy), the bookmark people are the ones that will go to the mall, just to go to your store because they have been there before.
The people that follow links are comparable to asking their freind Bob where he shops for blue widgets, and he suggests that they head to your store in the mall.
Search engine traffic is more like those people already walking around at the mall that see something interesting on a display and come in to check things out. The vast majority of them will look around and wander back out.
But a small percentage will stay and browse, buy something, or add you to their "bookmarks".
It is a completely different category of traffic.
You are describing exactly what happens with my sites. I would be very interested in what kinds of adjustments you make for the different kinds of visitors.
I'm also wondering what would help the most in getting search engine visitors to want to bookmark. One thing I'm thinking about is writing a paragraph that summerizes the article, perhaps including one particluarly interesting bit of information found in it. Has anyone tried this?
Plus I don't understand the huge difference between Google visitors and people coming in from links from related sites.
Some surfers think similiar way as Google algo (or the other way round actually ;). If I'm searching for information about something new, first I search with SE for official website and related websites with many links. I pick as much information as I can from these sites and then follow the links. I rarely go back to SE results in I have enough links.
There are so many spammy and unrelated results, that I wouldn't bother with visiting and browsing most of them. What SERP do I click? The snippet is the king. I'd rather go deeper into results than click result with unsatisfactory and not promising information in snippet. After clicking, it's important for me to find a short information ensuring me that site is related and a clear navigation showing me what can I find on the site. All other things may only decrease my impression, especially, I hate seeing any ads - I don't like to visit sites that steel my time to show me unsolicited information for their profit.
Maybe mainstream visitors behave differently, but in my opinion there is one simple rule how to hold visitor on the website: build site for visitor, and avoid stuffing things that serve other purposes than user's satisfaction.
But people will always trust human added links more than any search results, and on-topic site will be perceived more reliable source of links than any search engine or directory.
Genuine on-topic links are more important source of traffic than good position in SERP - not the only one, but more important - if only you can get them.
I have a lot of work to do on this, but you can see my site listed in my profile if you want to visit.
We just got great rankings in Yahoo for SEO related keywords I wish those visitors would go away the leads are the worst I have ever seen. I guess its good for the ego to get the high rankings.
The talk about bounce rate got me to looking more carefully at my stats. Basically I am mostly losing people who go directly to a page. For the most part that will be from a search engine as almost all inbound links from other sites go to the homepage. So the people coming in on inbound links get a nice view of all that the site has to offer. The search engine people just see one page, then they either find what they want and read it or don't find what they want and move on. I need to do something to get them interested in looking at the rest of the site. Hmmm, it just occurred to me. I have the site title at the top of each page and it's hotlinked so people can click on it and go to the homepage. Do you think some people just don't realize the link is there? It's not underlined. Maybe I need to make a link that says HOME in big letters.
How they select what is relevant and what is not?
They must find what they want in your descriptions.
Now that Google is using our meta description I think writing a good one makes a big difference. The title needs to catch their eye too which is sometimes hard as it also has to be to the point for the search engines.
I had given them file names with 8 characters or less. That was back in the dark ages!
What is wrong with 8 or less? I though it important to name pages after keywords.
Google recrawled my entire site this month because i made global changes. Still using snipets not META descriptions, I did se META desc for about a week during the last update (is it over yet?)
wizard, By snippet do you mean the description in our meta tag. I see that Google is using that extensively now. Mine are OK but I need to go back through and give them a closer look.
The search results listing begins with page title, and this is the only part we can be sure of - the excerpt can be taken either from description, or from page content. Recently, Google uses description from meta more often than it used to, but still sometimes it takes text from page content, if the keyword from search phrase can be found there.
We can't be entirely sure about how the snippet will look like, but the point is we must take care while creating title and description - make it both for Google (putting keywords there) and for users, but perhaps building them for users is more important - many of them won't click your #5 listing, if they can't find snippet promising.
What is wrong with 8 or less?
Nothing is wrong with it. It's just we had no choice back in the olden days. So words that were longer than 8 letters had to have the ends cut off. It's amazing how much has changed in the last 8 - 10 years.
Back on topic I just went through one small site and was amazed how awful my meta descriptions were. Some were just boring, some were only about 4 words. Some lacked the second quote causing html to be splattered across the snippit. Some were from other pages and never updated when I used an old page as a template for a new one. I was just tossing them on in case some lesser search engine needed them. I gave them no respect. I never dreamed Google might someday use them on result pages.
I have neglected keyword tags too. I just left em there for lesser se's some of the keywords aren't even on topic. Template thing.
For what it's worth I should probably just lose them.
The different search engines have different demographics.
Just as some people read the Times, some read the Post, and some get their news from the Weekly World News.