Larry Brauner

Defining Google Bounce Rate

Web metrics help bloggers and other website owners to analyze and track their site visitors. One of the most popular web metrics is bounce rate.

Google bounce rate is the percentage of visitors viewing only a single page before leaving your site or closing their browser window.

Bounce is thought to be bad and to indicate low interest on the part of your visitors.

According to Google, “a high bounce rate generally indicates that site entrance pages aren’t relevant to your visitors.”

Using Bounce Rate

Bounce rate can measure a site’s relevance, the desire of your visitors to place an order or to obtain additional information.

If you buy Pay Per Click advertising, your bounce rate may be one of the factors that determines the position of your ad relative to other ads.

Bloggers Baffled

Common wisdom dictates that bounce rate should be no more than 40 to 60 percent. Most blogs miss this range.

70 to 85 percent is typical, and bloggers are baffled.

Experts would probably agree that either the blog or the traffic was too unfocused. You will probably not be surprised to learn that I do not concur with the experts.

Blogs Are Different

Blog posts aren’t merely landing pages. Each and every one is a main attraction.

The following examples demonstrate that bounce rate cannot effectively measure your blog’s relevance to visitors.

Consider first your blog’s most loyal subscribers. They come and read your every post.

Let’s suppose that:

  • 10% leave a comment
  • A different 10% click through to a related post

This appears quite healthy to me, yet your bounce rate is 80%.

Now consider your blog’s best search engine visitors. They land on your post and read it with interest.

Let’s suppose that:

  • 5% leave a comment
  • A different 5% subscribe
  • A completely different 10% visit a related post

This seems quite good to me, yet your bounce rate is again 80%.

Visiting a single page, i.e. your post, reading it and moving on is reasonable behavior for a blog visitor. How can we expect the bounce rate to be much lower?

Bounce rate is clearly not as useful a metric for blogs as it is for landing pages.

Gauging Blog Readership

If we cannot adequately assess our readership using bounce rate, what are alternative metrics?

We might instead look at our trend in:

  • Quantity of good comments
  • Size of our subscriber base
  • Amount of direct traffic
  • Number of quality backlinks
  • Google PageRank
  • Yes, even our bounce rate (smile)

Incidentally, the Google Analytics metric “Avg. Time on Site” is equally problematic, since it doesn’t factor into the average visitors who view only a single page.

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Larry Brauner

Coping with Recent Ning Site Changes

The Online Social Networking world will never stand still. You can count on that. Social networking sites and the culture surrounding them will always be in a state of flux.

When I wrote Ning Social Networking Sites, I anticipated that before long Ning would add features enabling business networking sites to protect members’ privacy and reduce spam.

Now that these changes are a reality, you as a Ning user may need to adjust.

New Privacy Feature

A new optional Ning feature permits individual sites to hide their members’ affiliations with other Ning sites.

You can still manage your friends on each site. In fact, it is now much simpler to do so than before. However you can no longer manage your friends across Ning sites, nor can you view the other Ning sites to which your friends belong.

Unfortunately I do not have a work around for this. It looks like Ning has plugged the holes, but if I find something, I’ll let you know.

If you want to see all the Ning sites to which you belong, that you can do. Log on to Ning and click on “My Social Networks”.

New Anti-Spam Feature

Another new Ning feature permits individual sites to limit bulk mailing to friends. You can mail to 100 of your friends at a time. If you have many more than 100 friends, this mailing restriction will be somewhat of a nuisance.

You have several options:

  • Live with the restriction, as annoying as that might be.
  • Participate at sites that have not implemented this restriction — if you can find any. Ning may have plugged this hole too. You can invite friends from one Ning site to join you at another Ning site using the “Invite Your Ning Friends” option.
  • Start your own Ning social network. As the site administrator will be able to mail all of your members.

A strategy worth considering is joining many Ning sites and limiting yourself to 100 friends on each. When you exceed the 100 limit, prune away inactive friends and refine your targeting too as you go.

Is Ning Shooting Itself in the Foot?

You must have the ability to mail all your friends if your online social networking strategy is similar to My Online Social Networking Strategy.

I hope Ning isn’t shooting itself in the foot by eliminating group mailing and other features that are useful for serious business networking.

Like MySpace, Ning may learn the hard way that business networkers are a very fickle crowd.

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Larry BraunerWhen I set up my Online Social Networking blog in November 2007, I had essentially neither blogging nor search engine optimization experience.

I did have excellent reasons for starting a blog, and I was very determined to succeed. I was ready to learn and prepared to overcome any obstacles that might come my way.

Not wanting to write without readers, I reached out to my e-mail list and to my friends at social networking sites promoting my blog.

As time went on, the quality of my articles improved, I found new ways to connect with potential readers, and I received more and more visitors from search engines.

I must admit to you I’m not a natural writer. Each post to my blog takes hours of writing and editing. Nevertheless, I reached a point this summer when I felt ready to go in a new direction.

Syndicated by BlogBurst

I submitted my blog to BlogBurst and they accepted it for national syndication once they confirmed that it conformed to their editorial standards. The whole application process was really very simple.

BlogBurst refers member articles to top news agencies including Reuters and to a variety of other online publications.

When BlogBurst accepted me for membership they advised me to post at least one well written and carefully edited article of medium-length per week, something that I was already doing as part of my blogging strategy.

Picked Up by Reuters

Reuters has picked up four of my articles so far:

  • Ning Social Networking Sites
  • Ning Social Networking Sites Update
  • Home Based Businesses Don’t Work
  • How to Get Featured on Top News Sites (this post!)

I encourage you to read them on the Reuters site and then to click through to my blog in order to view the original posts and their comments. You can also subscribe to my RSS Feed or e-mail blogcast if you haven’t already done so.

I’m hoping that my recent post, Google Reverses Recent PageRank Update, will also make its way onto Reuters.

Also Featured by Chicago Sun Times

The Chicago Sun Times has picked up three of my articles so far:

Strategic Implication

What I’m looking for more than anything else through syndication is third party validation of my work. This validation enhances my credibility with my readers, i.e. you.

Since the Internet, especially the blogosphere, is cluttered with conflicting information and advice, you need to decide for yourself what you want to believe. Hence I appreciate this opportunity to enhance my credibility with you.

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Larry Brauner

To the surprise of many, a Google PageRank update occurred late September, a month earlier than expected. I saw the page rank of many of my blog posts move up, and I also saw the page rank of a friend’s site move down.

A Google PageRank update hadn’t been expected until October. The previous re-evaluation took place in July according to an apparent every three months pattern. Needless to say Google’s action raised many eyebrows.

On Saturday night the 4th of October I installed the Google XML Sitemap Plugin on a client’s Wordpress blog. While in the installing mood, I also installed the Google Toolbar on my Firefox browser. That’s when I noticed that something was up.

I looked at the page rank of a bunch of my blog posts and at the ranking of my friend’s site. It appeared that Google had rolled back pagerank to July’s numbers, an action would raise even more eyebrows.

Detailed investigation revealed that Google substantially revised but did not completely reverse their September page rank update.

What is Google PageRank?

In case you’re unfamiliar with page rank and wondering why so many people are obsessed with it, I’ll try to explain.

Website owners want their web pages listed at the top of the major search engines. They want lots of targeted visitors landing on their sites, and search engines are a great way to attract them.

Keyword research and optimization are important, but the use of keywords isn’t the only determining success factor. A web page’s authority is just as important, especially with Google.

Authority is determined by the quantity and quality of backlinks, links from other pages on your site or other sites. Backlink quality depends on the authority and the relevance of the linking web page.

Google’s rating of authority is called PageRank after Larry Page, Google’s founder. Google PageRank, or PR for short, is a number between 0 and 10. A PageRank of 10 is the best, but even a PR 5 isn’t easy to obtain.

Since Google PageRank is a key component of search engine optimization, and since page rank depends on receiving favorable outside attention, website owners and SEO professionals put enormous effort into cultivating relationships with relevant and authoritative sites that can link to them.

Back on the Link Farm

A note of caution: Buying links and link exchange strategies can backfire. Search engines are on the lookout for sneaky SEO strategies.

As with keyword stuffing discussed in Keywords Demystified, link farms and other linking schemes can also incur harsh penalties including search engine delisting.

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Larry Brauner

Needle in a Haystack?

There are millions of websites and billions of words of information on the Internet. You would think that finding anything would be like looking for a needle in a proverbial haystack.

Fortunately some of the savviest entrepreneurs have hired some of the smartest geeks to write some of the coolest computer programs ever written that allow us to find just about anything out there on the World Wide Web. These programs I refer to are what you and I call search engines.

The most popular search engines today are Google, Bing, and Yahoo!. While Google is the most popular, each of the others has plenty of loyal users too.

The search engines travel throughout the Web reading web pages and saving information about these pages for future reference, a process called indexing. When a page has been visited and stored away, we say that the web page has been indexed.

What are Keywords?

When we want to find something online, we bring up our favorite search engine and type some words into its search box. These words which closely relate to the information we want are called search terms or keywords.

We enter keywords, and the search engine responds with pages of results called search engine result pages – SERPs for short – that it retrieves from its index files.

If we are happy with the results, fine. Otherwise we try entering a different keyword combination, or we change the order of the search terms and try again.

Every Search Engine Must Do This

A good search engine is one that consistently finds us the web pages that are the most relevant to our search based on our chosen keywords.

The top priority of a search engine must be to retrieve and return to us the most relevant and helpful web pages. If it doesn’t, then we’ll look to a competitor’s search engine instead.

Search engines always focus on satisfying users, not website owners and not even paying advertisers.

Crime and Punishment

Website owners sometimes try to deceive search engines by stuffing keywords into their web pages completely out of context. They hope thereby to drive their pages up to the top of the search results.

This tactic, a form of spam called spamdexing because it spams the indexing process, once fooled search engines, but that is no longer the case.

Spamdexing can be spotted by sophisticated search engine algorithms and punished appropriately. A site might even be delisted altogether.

Once this happens it could be a long time before the site re-establishes its credibility and regains its standing.

Golden Rule of Web Design

Create your web site content with your visitors in mind. Your visitors and search engines will react favorably, and everybody will win in the long run.

With keyword research you can find the optimal keywords to use in your web pages, words or phrases that many people are searching for, but not so many that the competition for those keywords will be too fierce.

There are keywords that people use when they are doing research and there are ones that they use when they’re ready to buy.

Keyword selection is both an art and a science. There’s much room for creativity.

However, whatever keywords you select to use in your web page, keep this in mind:

Somebody will read what you write, so always be sure that what you write is worth reading.

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to my RSS feed or by e-mail. Visit my About, Services, Media Buzz and Connect pages to learn about Building Your Audience and Brand on the Web. See also my Disclosure Policy regarding affiliations and compensation.

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