Metrics You Need to Recover or Prevent a Google Panda Hit
In my last post I pointed out what poor and misunderstood metrics bounce rates and time-on-site are, as traditionally reported by Google Analytics, Omniture and other web analytic tools. Post-Panda, here is the information we need - (to either prevent a Panda hit or as part of a Panda recovery strategy).
- True time on site (time spent on all pages, including bounces and last page).
- Bounce, as I mentioned previously and as currently defined is simply a single page visit. While a useful metric, it will vary by site in value and also can be skewed by page and site design and technology (for instance, Ajax).
- Exit rates - This is far better than bounce. I want to know what percentage of people exit:
- 15 second exits
- 30 second exits
- 45 second exits
- 60 second exits
My assumption is that the longer users stay on the site, the more positive the search experience.
- I'd love to know back buttons exiting users from the site. A back-button to Google is what I am trying to prevent.
To count exits, you need to set a timer that triggers a ping event every 15 seconds - so if you get a visit with no pings, you know that the user left in less than 15 seconds. This would also let you calculate true time on site. Of course, the last pageview may never end if the user decided to take a lunch break, so you would need to set some sort of max time to count for any one page (perhaps 120 seconds).
This is what we need to understand and track over time our sites performance in response to search. Let me add one very important thing when analyzing your metrics - you must create a segment that only looks at these statistics for visitors from search and specifically a Google only segment. What matters is your SEO visits, users coming to your site via other means may have very different metrics.
Once you get good metrics like these in place, you will have a much better understanding on what pages or parts of your sites might be causing problems - as well as a better way to measure improvements to your site.
I am going to spend some time looking for off-the-shelf solutions to help capture these metrics . I'll let you know what I find in my next post! :)