Everyone working in SEO knows that the golden rule for content is that it should be useful and relevant to searchers. Google has been saying this for years. And it’s a rule that we at LinkNow Media take advantage of.
So it seems like a terrible irony that it’s so hard to find useful and relevant information about ranking metrics themselves. You’ll find one group of bloggers claiming that X metric is complete garbage. Then you’ll find another group who say it’s the most important.
This is especially true when it comes metrics like bounce rate, pages per visit, and time-on-site. You have your for and against—and each side seems to suggest the other is behind the times. But maybe the problem isn’t so much that these are either good or bad. Maybe it’s that these metrics can be good in some contexts and not in others?
Join us as we unpack bounce rate, page per view, and time-on-site metrics so that you can interpret them effectively to improve your website!
Bounce Rate, Pages Per View, and Time-on-Site Metrics Explained
Bounce rate is determined by the number of times a user arrived on your page and left your pages without spending any time on it. For example, say you’re ranking for a keyword that’s not relevant to what you’re selling. Users are going to arrive on your page, realize they don’t want what you have and leave.
Pages per visit is kind of self-explanatory: it measures the average number of pages that users visited after having landed on the site. Given that each visit begins by landing on a particular page, it’s useful to know how many people visited how many other pages after landing on a particular page.
Finally, time on site measures the amount of time that a user spent on your website. This metric is kind of useless since the data tends to be skewed: users are not necessarily engaging with your site while they have it open. They might have gone for a jog, taken a nap, made dinner, read a book, or who knows what else, and left your site open.
Useful or Useless Metrics? Know Your Product.
Here’s the thing: metrics are not universal. You’re not going to measure the weight of a thing using a measure for distance. It doesn’t make sense. People will think you’re crazy. That’s why it’s so important to understand what you’re measuring and why you’re measuring it.
Ask yourself, are you selling a product that depends on conversion rates? Or are you a content, media, or news producer that depends on informational content? Each of these requires different measures to determine successful SEO. Pages per visit might be a great metric for determining success on a media-oriented site, but if you’re aiming for conversion, you want customers to spend as little time and effort as possible to convert.
This goes some way towards explaining why there’s so much disagreement on the web. It all depends on the type of product that’s being marketed.
Conversion Oriented Websites
If you’re selling a product, getting visitors to fill out a form, or otherwise trying to encourage visitors to take an action on your website, you will be focusing on conversion.
Let’s say you’re a landscaper. Your goal is to get potential clients to either call your phone number, send you an email, or book an appointment through an online form. In other words, you want them to convert. And you want them to convert as quickly as possible.
That means you probably won’t be terribly interested in having a high number of pages per visit. If your content is good, that number should be low:
- Client finds your landing page via an organic search
- Client clicks your page and reads part of it
- Client realizes you offer the service they want
- Client calls the number and books an appointment
These four steps make up a ‘sales funnel’ which can be analyzed using bounce rates, pages per visit, and time-on-site metrics. With optimized content, that should happen on one page. Ideally, anyway. If not, it might be a sign that your content needs to be oriented more towards conversion. The same logic applies to time-on-site: for conversion-oriented sites, your goal is to shrink that window as much as possible. Good content means fewer bounce rates from organic searches and lower pages per visit rates means better conversion.
Media Oriented Websites
If your goal is to encourage your visitors to consume as much of your content as possible, then you need to optimize for that. Whether your revenue stream is coming in through ad sales or subscriptions, your goal is to present visitors with the content that they want.
Bounce rates, pages per visit, and time-on-site can be very useful for determining the success of your web design and the content. When your visitors are looking for information, you want them to consume as much as possible. To travel through your site to as many pages as possible, and for as long as possible. By looking at these metrics you can determine the success or failure of your content.
It’s also important to consider how people arrived at your site. For example, studies have shown that links coming in from Twitter tend to encourage a high bounce rate. A user will click on a link to an article, read the headline, and then return to Twitter. Same goes for Facebook. This has to do with the platforms themselves. It means that you will have to interpret your metrics with reference to the kinds of links you’re getting.
These metrics are also useful if you’re trying to figure out whether changes you’ve made to your site are good or bad. Have you slowly added new sections? Are you seeing the metrics you want? Have you made a sudden change to your site navigation and noticed a dramatic increase in pages per visit? These are signs of success, enjoy it!
At the end of the day, using metrics like pages per visit, bounce rate, and time-on-site can be useful within certain contexts. You need to know what you’re aiming for. If you’re not sure what you’re aiming for or what your goals should be, it doesn’t hurt to call in the experts. The organic and local SEO experts at LinkNow Media are ready to help!