Lets start with what bounce rate is…I am using Google as the example due to the sheer size of the search engine, along with the example of my own personal blog which has an established readership base.
Simply – bounce rate is when a visitor lands on your page, and after reading, leaves without visiting another page on your blog /website.
By the nature of blogs, they tend to have high bounce rates in general. Blogs are usually found on Internet searches, or by blogger promotion for niche content.
The bigger blogs, or ones attached to Companies may have lower bounce rates, but in the main, bounce rates are high.
The search engines tend to look unfavourably on blogs and websites with high bounce rates, and bounce rates could very well affect the priority that you have in the blogosphere – as well as the Internetosphere.
The big Google is not going to share the absolutes of how they come to their decisions for who remains in the directory, who is deprioritised in listings, or who is excluded altogether.
There ARE things we can do to try to limit how far we might be penalised for engaging with our audience, by constantly changing the face of our web presence.
To gain the advantage of the benefits of engagement of readers, we must also prepare and take steps to mitigate the potential disadvantages that they might send our way.
For me, with my own experiences, there are four areas that make a huge dent in how I see information has been perceived by the big search engines. I have managed to remedy three of these, and the fourth is a waiting game.
1 – The Blog Bounce Rate
There is really very little we can do about this, unless we can tempt our visitors to look at more information that is included on our web pages. Eye-catching and fresh content and pictures can help pull a visitor in. In many occasions, they will read, comment, and THEN move on.
RELEVANT IS IMPORTANT
If you don’t have what they are looking for, they will read and move when they find our blogs and websites through search engines.
It helps to keep our content to the topics that we write about. A photography blogger who uses keywords that might come up for someone searching for a key lime pie recipe might think they are clever to try to divert Internet searchers and capture the traffic, but if there is nothing related to the recipe, the potential reader is unlikely to stay and read.
They could also strike a mental black mark against your name by being totally irritated that they couldn’t find the keywords they searched for on the pages that they clicked on. I think we have all been there.
2. Broken Links
If you do very little maintenance to your blogs and websites, make sure you check the links that you have on your website. That includes all those that are in posts, pages, sidebar preferences AND comments. So many people forget about the comments.
At one point when I found out about the potential, I remember having 48 broken links on my website due to comments from people I trust, whose pages are now defunct, or whose Internet offers had expired.
On blogs, there are broken link checkers that can do the job automatically and let you know which ones are problematic. They allow you to unlink easily. If your website changes regularly to take advantage of the search engine love of fresh content, you can quickly find yourself with many broken links that are easily fixed.
Think about how frustrated those search engine spiders are when they crawl down the line of your web structure, only to keep coming across dead ends that go nowhere. If they don’t like it, they will visit less, and there is a risk of possibly reducing your authority on the Internet for the words you are searching for.
It’s a bit like a never-ending maze. You DO risk being penalised and possibly having your website or blog deprioritised by not cleaning house regularly.
I fell foul of Google for several reasons at one point, and with the help of Google’s own Webmaster tools, I managed to pull back the problems that my broken links and page rank leakage were likely causing. I had been deprioritised in Google, which meant that for my personal blog, if I searched for my domain.com, the results led to pages or posts in my domain, but not directly to my home page.
3 – Duplicate Content
I had made the basic mistake of naming a weekly series of posts by using the same title each week on different content within a post. Google does NOT like duplicate content of any kind, and I was able to remedy that by simply adding a date to the title of each one of those posts.
Be very aware, that Google picks up on duplicate content quite quickly, but their webmaster tools do give you the pointers to start looking at where your website is falling short of what they like to see. If you have fallen foul of Google webmaster guidelines, you can take steps to remedy where you are falling down, and then ask reconsideration of your site within Google.
4 – Page Rank
This is a huge area, with constant and highly emotive debates around it. I am going to keep it simple for bloggers and small businesses getting off the ground.
Search engines (eg Google) rank each page on the Internet about how influential they deem them to be. The factors that they use are not open and fully understood by the general public and many a Company has made a pretty penny out of saying that they know how it all works.
I will use Google as an example.
I had very likely (definitely) failed to take account of the fact, that the links I was putting on my own website were leaking away the percentage points that could be gained. Page Rank or PR is seen as important to webmasters and website owners, and is often quoted as a means of deciding how important websites are.
Lets look at the problem simply. If you add a new page of information to your website, it effectively begins as a blank slate with 100% of that page rank.
- 1 Page – 100% Page Rank (PR)
- If I add 2 external links to that page…
I keep 33.3% Page Rank, and I give AWAY 66.6% of the potential PR for that page to the other websites. In effect, I am passing any potential page rank that I have for that page to them.
Lets try to fix that by adding in some links to my own website to balance it out, eg:
- 1 Page – 100% PR
- Add 2 external links
- Add 2 internal links to other pages in my site.
You would think that might do it, wouldn’t you? How about the possibility of adding links to your own website? Would that make the pages you want to be seen as the most important, actually increase in priority. Well, if you did think that, you would have been happy a couple of years ago, but Google are wise to that now. It is not so easy to sculpt where page rank lies these days.
It still DOES mean that if we add external links to our blogs and websites, that we are throwing away our own potential for page rank.
In reality, most webmasters can only do the best they can do within the knowledge that people have gained from making mistakes, or being deprioritised, or being excluded from search engines altogether.
What we can do to try to stop link leakage if we cannot avoid posting external links, is to use caution. Use links wisely and only for relevant websites that are within the range of our own content. I would also say to use the “nofollow” attribute where it is appropriate.
Nofollow does what it says. It means that you can indeed link to external websites by just adding the “nofollow” attribute to your links. It means that the search engines will not pass your page rank to the website you are linking to. In all reality, you will probably lose that proportion of your page rank to the nofollow link ending, but there are many cases where it is important to use.
When bloggers accept featured or sponsored paid content, the links included are usually shown as keywords which Google is not silly about. They will realise that several people running content using the same keywords to link to the same web pages are being paid.
Using nofollow means that the advertiser and the sponsored blog does not get penalised for the content. Google does not look favourably on paying for links to gain page rank.
My WordPress theme carries the nofollow attribute as one of its search engine optimisation functions, so I have the opportunity to turn off all links going out from each individual page. There are also plugins that can do the job for you, link by link as and when you need it.
The final way of doing it, is to add the simple code to any links that you publish on your website that you don’t wish to be follow links. For this method, you need to know a tiny bit of HTML code, but it is indeed very simple.
The HTML code for a link might look like:
- <a href=”http://madlysocial.com”>Madly Social</a>
- The link, when embedded, would look like this: Madly Social
To add nofollow, you would change it to :
- <a href=”http://madlysocial.com” rel=”nofollow”>Madly Social</a>
Going into your theme editor once you have set a link is where you would find the ability to change the original link to the nofollow one in the html editor, or in the sidebar text widget.
Remember that there are times where you would want links to be follow links, and they can be a way of showing your appreciation and respect for another website. How that is accepted tends to reflect on how much the webmaster of the website you have given some of your potential page rank to is aware of the mechanics of the process.
Google seems to accept that each website or blog is liable to receive a mixture of follow and nofollow links for it to be a respectable Internet presence and the bigger blogging websites tend to automatically use nofollow for links in comments.
Let me know what you think in comments, or tell me if you any updated information that I have missed out.