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Anyway, a question: Are you seeing a lot of newly found "direct" traffic that you didn't have say a year ago too?
Bounce rate is referred to as a single-page visit to your site, but is strictly defined as a single interaction request during a user session. For this reason, a bounce rate for a page is also affected by ecommerce transactions and event tracking requests. This is because these features co-exist with page tracking and, when they are triggered, they result in additional interaction requests to the Analytics servers.
It's interesting that Anaytics is mentioned...
The percentage of single-page visits (i.e. visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page).
The number of times your visitors have been to your site (unique sessions initiated by all your visitors). If a user is inactive on your site for 30 minutes or more, any future activity will be attributed to a new session. Users who leave your site and return within 30 minutes will be counted as part of the original session.
This field identifies the number of single-page visits to your site over the selected dimension.
Analytics shows the preview visitor as direct traffic which is nonsense.
What this looks like to me, is that GA is tracking each subsequent visit from this particular user as resulting from their initial Google search. This is not in line with reality and inconsistent when comparing to other RSS feed users.
Is there anything to suggest that the type of traffic you've been getting recently... ie, in say research vs commercial... is different enough to cause the changes you're seeing?
Also, I can't see how previews would make the bounce rate go lower, only higher.
The bounce rate for Search Engine Traffic DROPPED from around 65% to around 12% on October 19th.
Does anything in that thread suggest similarities to what's happening with your traffic?