Does Google Panda Uses Bounce Rate as a ranking Signal
In theory, bounce rate ( along with time spent on site) could be used by Google as a ranking signal. Google already has a mechanism to block all search results from a particular website if is not relevant or good. If you search for a term, land to its page, do not find its content as useful, hit back button you see a link under the search result that says – Block all xyz.com results. Google does collect this data, and, if the threshold crosses a certain number, google may penalize the site for being poor quality. There were 2% websites affected, when google implemented the “block all result from a website” feature.
This scheme may be extended to record the bounce rates of different websites and necessary action be taken. The high bounce rate and low time spent on a website is one of the most important characteristic of a spam website. It does not take more than 10 seconds to realize that a website’s content is not useful or relevant. If we assume that google uses Bounce rate as an important signal it has some implications that all webmasters, especially those hit by Google Panda should be aware of.
First, all websmasters should install Google Analytics or other similar analytics tool and check the bounce rate of their websites. If your bounce rate is above 75% you are likely to get trapped in Panda penalty. This fact has been correlated and studied by starredreviews and has been established as a matter of fact.
There are few fine points that must be remembered. First, this signal can not be used for very websites that are very small and get very small number of traffic from google. If this signal is used for websites getting very little traffic from google, its can be manipulated by the webmaster or its competitor. For the data to be correct, it needs to be spread geographically and over a period of time. No wonder, small websites getting little traffic, are often not penalized even if they are low quality.
Time spent on site is another important signal that google potentially can record with its Chrome browser. With the increase in Chrome’s dominance google may be more accurate over the time in predicting a low quality site by measuring time spent on the site. Average time spent on the website is the next most important signal that a websmater will measure in the Analytics.
Whether google uses these signals in reality or not, as a webmaster, you are only going to gain by looking at bounce rate and time spent on site and attempting to improve the two parameters. Consider that you are getting 10,000 visits per day and have a 1.2 pages per visit, giving you a total of 120000 pages per visit. If you improve the bounce rate and increase the pages per visit from 1.2 pages per visit to 2.0 pages per visit, you increase the number of visits per day to 20,000 or an increase of 7,0000.
How to improve the Bounce Rate
1. Writing an exceptional first paragraph that is relevant to the search term is the most important factor, which will improve the bounce rate. Look at your google analytics tool and start with the webpages that get most traffic. Read the first paragraph from a readers perspective and think if it is good enough to engage the users. Rewrite the content if required.
2. Use a Good design webpage – The webpage should not look spammy and cluttered with a large number of ads. Tables and graphs should be added to make it impressive. Simple charts and infographics make users engaged.
3. Use Links to Related Topics – When a person finds your topic related, he is inclined to read more topics from your website. List out a set of related topics as a table or at the bottom of your topics. WordPress has Related posts plugin which not only helps readers in finding related contents, but also improves ranking by interlinking the internal webpages.
4. Use Links inside the webpage – As your website grows, you have a large pool of the webpages, that you can use to interlink from within the webpage.
5. Use Target = “new” for external links – If you are linking outside, it may be good idea to use target = “new” attribute for the links. This will open the external link on a new Tab. This helps readers stay on your webpage where they can come back and continue reading.
6. Use a forum for further discussion – Install a forum on your websites. At the end of the topic, leave a link to the forum where the topics is being discussed. If the quality of the discussion is good, reader may be willing to read more on the forum for informal discussions.
Even if google does not use Bounce Rate as a signal, it does help to track it to improve your site quality. Consider again the improvement in the pages per visit from 1.2 to 2.0 for a website getting 10,000 per visit. If you have improved the bounce rate to increase the number of pages per day to 20,000 – chances are, you have significantly improved the quality of the website. The improved quality of the website will likely remove the Panda penalty, which will further improve the traffic from 20,000 pages per day to 30,000 pages per day. So by improving your number of pages per visit from 1.2 to 2.0 you essentially increased the number of pages visited from 12,000 per day to 30,0000 per day. Stop asking the question – Does Google Panda Uses Bounce Rate a ranking Signal ? – If it does it helps more. But even if it does not it does correlate eventually with other signals that google may be using.
Google’s blog is a good pointer that encourages webmasters to monitor important parameters including Bounce Rate.
luzie – a top contributor in the Google Webmaster Forum an interesting example – if you have two websites A and B. If site A has 80% bounce rate, 20 seconds average time on site and if the website B has 20% bounce rate and 6 minutes average time on site, which one will search engine choose to rank ?
Officially google does not announces if it uses this as a signal for ranking. This is accordance with its policy not to disclose the ranking signals , as, it may be used to game the system. So we will probably never know if this is officially a ranking factor. But it does not matter – it only helps to improve your bounce rate