A client’s site ranks for some keywords that aren’t core to any of its themes, and it keeps getting bounced back to page 2. This is my hypothesis of what’s going on.
The page ranks by fluke, really. It’s propped up by site authority and the unique content having attracted nice links. The problem is that the content only tangentially touches on the keywords it’s ranking for, but doesn’t quite satisfy the user intent of the query. As a result, the bounce rate is astronomical.
When the content was first published, it ranked around the middle of page 1. Over time, it dropped to page 2, and has since bounced around page 2, mostly on a downward trend. Until a recent link came through, it hovered around position 18.
That link bounced rankings back up to the middle of page 1. Temporarily. It’s since reverted back to page 2.
Why? I’m betting that it’s because of the bounce rate. The page is better optimized, onpage and offpage, relative to competing pages. But it doesn’t quite provide what visitors were hoping for when they typed the search. To be clear, the page’s title isn’t misleading, and should qualify the clicks, but the bounce rate is still very high. I have to guess that the bounce metric is what’s causing the repeat slumps.
In fact, anecdotal evidence from my logs, as well as periodic rank checks at a time when I cared more about ranking for ‘seo’, made me think that the continually changing content on my homepage affected my rank. Now I have an indication that it may have been self-reinforcing, as the homepage posts that weren’t about seo increased bounce rates. To give you an idea of the extent of this, I had been #3 behind 2 Wikipedia results, and I now am around the top of page 2, generally.
My feeling is that Google’s worked some pretty intelligent user metrics code into its algorithm. Yes, people have been saying that bounce rates count for a while, but no one really documented what it looked like in practice, nor shared any real proof that bounce rate was a factor of the algorithm. It was logical speculation, at least as far as I’ve read to date.Tags: Algorithms, Analytics, Case Studies, Content, keywords