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Dealing With Bounce Rate and Conversions For Downloads



9:03 pm on Jul 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Ok so. Let's pretend for a moment that a site's primary purpose is to allow people to download files - let's go with images. So let's say that mypage.html contains 20 image thumbnails. User is instructed to click on a thumbnail, wait for it to load (via javascript in a lightbox-style overlay), and then right-click the overlaid large image to save it.

Now, in the past, one might not have bothered trying to track via Google Anayltics, the number of these downloads. If one had bothered, one might have found it fairly difficult to do and not straightforward, but definitely possible.

Flash forward to a Post-Panda world. Tracking those downloads would now very possibly matter. If each download is tracked as a page view (which essentially it is, but not in the traditional sense), then suddenly bounce rate goes down, and goals can be set in GA to show conversions.

Now, when Panda sniffs around at all this activity, Panda says, "hey, look, the bounce rate isn't bad at all. users are doing something and not just leaving this page, like we thought before. this site does please its visitors, doesn't it? heck, let's unpandalize this puppy!"

Anyway, I don't know if this premise makes sense or not, but I've just implemented some code that I "hope" will allow GA to start tracking these downloads as page views, and will also show up as goals attained. I am very shaky on whether or not the code I used to make this happen will work or not. Obviously, since I just implemented this today, any downloads won't show up until tomorrow, so I'll let you know if the code I used is working or not. If it does, I'll also be watching to see if perhaps there is any correlation or causation or unpandalization that occurs.

Any thoughts on this?


1:43 am on Jul 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I think it's useful for you to be able to track these "conversion goal" events. But I don't think Google Analytics is part of the data that Google's Panda is using.

Since these events on your site require two user clicks - one left click and one right - the browser already tracks those actions, as well as any scrolling. IMO that's quite likely to mitigate any bounce rate troubles.

I do look forward to hearing about your results.


3:21 pm on Jul 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I have such a site, but my setup is quite different.

I have a separate HTML page for each image. There are a number of advantages to this, including that thumbnail clicks get tracked as a normal page view.

I offer several different resolutions, and the links to each file have the GA event tracking script attached to the onclick handler. I've been tracking downloads since long before Panda, it's one of my most important metrics.

Of course, I got pandalized anyway, but I think that is not because of my download mechanism but for other reasons.

After Panda, I considered switching to a setup like the one you describe, to get rid of all of the "thin" image pages. I thought it through and changed my mind. There are still lots of good reasons for each image to have its own unique page.

From Google's guidelines for publishing images (emphasis in the original):

Even if your image appears on several pages on your site, consider creating a standalone landing page for each image, where you can gather all its related information. If you do this, be sure to provide unique information—such as descriptive titles and captions—on each page.


9:18 pm on Jul 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I had that setup in the past as well, but I modernized the site at some point to make it more appealing to users. Silly me.


12:28 am on Jul 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Lightbox and similar applications do make for a nifty interface, but they also tend to hide text data from search engines. I'm always watchful when I use them for that reason - especially applications that adapt the title attribute to create captions. That buries what looks like text on the screen in a secondary image attribute - one that Google did not even index at all, historically.


2:47 am on Jul 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Right, I wouldn't use one that hid the text. The script I use still has normal alt attribute usage, although the title attribute in the code isn't ideal. Still, that *shouldn't* technically matter, as long as the alt attribute is used in the normal manner, I'd think.

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