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ANATOMY OF A PERFECT WEB SITE – BOUNCE RATE

What makes a perfect web page?

Some would say that depends on your viewpoint, are you making the perfect web page for Google, or the perfect web page for the visitor?
The answer is a mixture of both, yes Google says create your page for the end-user, however this is too simplified. How about Page Title, Keyword Usage, Headings, Anchor Text etc – the nitty gritty technical stuff? Perhaps not always 100% required (despite what SEO companies will tell you) but it certainly helps.

Google says if your content is good enough it will stand up by itself – in reality the percentage of web pages that will stand by themselves is very, very small. These ‘Anatomy of a Perfect Web Page’ articles will not cover the content of the web page – other than to say it should be original and engaging – they will cover technical tips and best practice.

Background

Search Engines used to rank web pages by links alone, then savvying up a bit they assigned ranking weight to the anchor text in the link (anchor text is the text in the clicky bit of a link). SEO consultants cottoned on to this practice and a lot of link / anchor text spamming went on, even creating its own mini industry.

Search engine algorithms were improved to identify link spamming and anchor text keyword-stuffing and the cat and mouse game between Google and the SEO community intensified. Google has been trying to move away from ranking based upon links (which are inherently spammable) for years, but the problem remained how else to assign a value or weighting to a good web page?

Links still remain a major, major factor in a website’s ranking but the Search Engines have become increasingly sophisticated in weeding out the dodgy ones. Where a lot of research and increased ranking emphasis has gone is into the end-user’s experience and engagement with the page.

On Page Ranking Factors

These include how much content is ‘above the fold’, how many adverts are above the fold, how long the web page takes to load, is the site mobile-friendly or has ’responsive design’ if the viewing device has a small screen, is the content original.

An increasingly important factor is PageSpeed, the time it takes for your web page to load in the visitor’s browser (but that’s a whole article on its own!).

These are factors that you have direct control over.

Off Page Ranking Factors
Page Visit length, Bounce Rate, Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS) pogoing.

Obviously the longer a page visit length is the better, however the end-user’s reason for visiting the page could have been satisfied in a couple of seconds, so how to differentiate between a satisfied and dissatisfied user?

This is where SERPs pogoing is taken into account, if the user flips back to the SERPS after visiting a page and then clicks on a further result, then this denotes that the previous page did not satisfy the user’s intentions. This is classed as a Bounce.

What Is A Bounce?

SEO What is a Bounce

A Bounce is a single page session on your web site. Because it is single page session it will have a start point in time but no end point, therefore it is classed as a zero time on site, which in turn pulls your average Time On Site / Visit Length down.

The lower your Bounce Rate is the better, whilst Google haven’t directly said that it’s a ranking Factor there is such a direct correlation between user satisfaction (Google’s Holy Grail) and Bounce Rate that there should be a weighting given to it.

How To Lower My Bounce Rate?

As explained above a bounce occurs when a single web page visit occurs.

When the visit starts the time is logged in Google Analytics (GA), if another web page on the site is visited this time is logged – the ‘Time On Page’ is the difference between the two. Should the visitor leave the initial page and return to the SERPS using the Browser Back Arrow, no End Time is logged therefore in GA it is classed as a Bounce, with ‘Time On Page’ as zero.

It is possible with the addition of the following JavaScript code, to send GA a notification after X seconds into a page visit. This will have a twofold effect, if the user leaves the page without going further into your site it will not be classed as a bounce, PLUS it will increase the Average Site /Page Visit Time.

Choose an interval that will allow a legitimate bounce to occur, say 15 seconds then after that time has elapsed the code will send a notification to GA denoting the visitor is still on the web page (ie no Bounce).
setTimeout("ga('send','event','adjusted bounce rate','page visit 15 seconds or more')",15000);

So your Google Analytics code should look similar to this (insert your GA ID in place of the Xs)


<!-- Google Analytics -->
<script>
window.ga=window.ga||function(){(ga.q=ga.q||[]).push(arguments)};ga.l=+new Date;
ga('create', 'UA-XXXXXXXX-X', 'auto');
ga('send', 'pageview');
setTimeout("ga('send','event','adjusted bounce rate','page visit 15 seconds or more')",15000);
</script>

With, of course, the Analytics JavaScript file request:

<script async src=’https://www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js’></script>

The script files should be placed in the header before any CSS or other JS requests; the async attribute precludes any delay in loading the script in the header.

No Bounce – Amended Bounce Rate

SEO Avoid A Bounce

If you use Google Tag Manager, then it is a bit more involved. Here is a good video on how to apply Amended Bounce Rate in GTM

The debate on whether Google uses data from GA has been ongoing for years, with Google (using very careful phraseology) denying its use, whilst a lot of SEOs are not convinced. https://graywolfseo.com/google/google-using-analytics-data/.

It is difficult to understand why Google would not use the data which gives such an insight into a visitor’s interaction with the website when it is this engagement behavior they are trying to understand.

Giving yourself more meaningful statistics on your site’s Bounce Rate also helps you decide whether the content you are supplying is a good fit for the visitor’s intent; if you discover pages on your site have a high bounce rate where you would not expect it, then it is worthwhile either re-writing the content or even getting rid of it completely, thus avoiding a possible Google Panda (thin content) issue.

Description Tag

A further method of reducing Bounce Rate is informing the potential visitor about the page before it is clicked on from the SERPS via the Description Tag. The Description Tag is the text displayed under the URL in the SERPS
The HTML Description Tag is near the top of the HTML code and reads:

<meta name="description" content="">  With the description text placed in the quotation marks for the content.

In 2018 Google increased the size of the description it displays in the SERPS from 160 (ish) characters to just over 300 characters, then returned it to around 160 characters; it is recommended to keep the Description tag to a maximum of 160 characters.

(Top Tip)

A little tip for Description Tag content is to look at the Google Ad description for a product / service/website that is similar to your own, especially if it is for a brand-name – they will probably have spent thousands of pounds in  A/B  variant testing to get the optimum Ad description that encourages the click – just utilise what they’ve put!


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