Bounce Rate – Does Bing Provide More Relevant Results?

I am personally finding better results when using the search engine Bing recently. However, Google still has a huge gigantic market share of search results and I doubt that will change anytime soon.

I realize that my opinion is subjective – what does “better results” actually mean? Well to me, it means I am getting results that are relevant to what I am actually looking for and that is helpful to me based on my search query in the first couple of pages of search results. What does it mean to you? My own opinion was unscientifically confirmed when I took the “Bing Challenge” as well.

I wondered if there was an objective way to determine the “quality” of search engine results or the relevancy of them, based on data that I have. And for that, I turned to Google Analytics and used the data that Google provides me with.  I’m also thinking that the measure of bounce rate might be an interesting measure to use. For visitors that are referred to sites from either Bing or Google, which visitors stick around more often and which do not? There are some suggestions in the SEO world that Google uses the bounce rate of visitors to a site as one of the many factors in their search results algorithm to determine rankings for any search term.

According to Wikipedia:

Bounce rate (sometimes confused with exit rate)[1] is an Internet marketing term used in web traffic analysis. It represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and “bounce” (leave the site) rather than continue viewing other pages within the same site.

[…]

A bounce occurs when a web site visitor only views a single page on a website, that is, the visitor leaves a site without visiting any other pages before a specified session-timeout occurs. There is no industry standard minimum or maximum time by which a visitor must leave in order for a bounce to occur. Rather, this is determined by the session timeout of the analytics tracking software.

 

So, I’m using Google Analytics as the tracking software. Presumably, the bounce rate that Google uses in their tracking software is based on the same definition if there is one, that they would use in any part of their algorithm that uses Bounce Rate as a factor in their SERP’s.

I examined 6 different websites, all in totally different niches that I have access to their Analytics reporting. Four of those sites are directly controlled by my business, while the other two are clients of mine. The results were interesting to say the least. And the results beg the question: “Is Google truly the best search engine providing the most relevant search results for the user’s search terms and phrases?”

Is it possible that indeed, Bing provides superior results?

There are problems however, with using Bounce Rate as a measure of whether or not a URL was relevant to a search result. We’re told that the lower the Bounce Rate, the better. If we assume this is true, then Google has a bit of a problem.

On the other hand, a high bounce rate could mean that a searcher found exactly what they were looking for when they clicked through to a URL from a search result. If they found exactly what they were looking for; an answer to a question, a solution to a problem, or an article of interest that gave them pause for thought, they might not be clicking around the site they landed on for more information.

But let’s assume for now that a low bounce rate is preferred and how the Google engineers may have determined that a low bounce rate is a preferred as a measure of relevancy.

Let’s take a look at the data Google provides. This is for the dates between August 29, 2012 and September 29, 2012. These six sites have in common that they get a minimum of 1,000 unique visitors per month, with a few of them significantly more than that.

Site #1:

  • Google Bounce Rate: 35.94%
  • Bing Bounce Rate: 16.83%

Site #2:

  • Google Bounce Rate: 41.16%
  • Bing Bounce Rate: 37.07

Site #3:

  • Google Bounce Rate: 21.47%
  • Bing Bounce Rate: 14.56%

Site #4:

  • Google Bounce Rate: 6.98%
  • Bing Bounce Rate: 3.61%

(Above numbers are very enviable no matter who wins and I was very surprised at how low it was)

Site #5:

  • Google Bounce Rate: 11.88%
  • Bing Bounce Rate: 26.43%

Site #6:

  • Google Bounce Rate: 44.31%
  • Bing Bounce Rate: 23.81%

In five out of the six website analytics data that I took a look at, there was a significantly lower bounce rate with visitors coming from Bing than those who arrived via Google’s search results. Granted, Google also provided a significantly higher number of referrers overall, but it generally matches the market share of each search engine.

So, if Bounce Rate is a determining factor in how well accepted a site is to a visitor, is it not interesting that Bing Results seem to indicate that they are providing better results overall as visitors are finding for whatever search term they used, some motivation to stick around more than Google users?

Of course, the answer could be more complex as perhaps the demographics and some other characteristic information of the users need to be taken into consideration as well. Having said that, although I’ve provided results for the top six of the websites that we monitor Google Analytics data for, the results are typical for all of the sites that we monitor.

I’m curious as to what you find when you compare the Bounce Rate of visitors to your site that have been referred by either Google or Bing. And how would you interpret these results?

I am also curious as to how these numbers stack up against each other from periods prior to the major Panda and Penguin updates. I took a cursory look and interestingly to me, there was not quite as much of a spread between Google and Bing – which indicates to me that in Google’s “quest for quality,” they haven’t achieved it in their war against whatever they are warring over and making significant changes in their SERP’s (yes, two of the above sites were hit by either Panda or Penguin).

 

Has Google Jumped The Shark?

m4s0n501

This morning, April 25, 2012, many of us woke to some really strange and poor search results in Google. Yesterday, I wrote about some experiences that I was seeing throughout the day here and here, but overnight it just got worse.

At least one of my sites which I know has good quality content (my visitors tell me so, not a search engine bot) seems to have taken a major dive in search engine results at Google. I’m still seeing some pretty weird results – and even seeing Ezine articles now ranking again for some search queries. Another property which seems to have gained is Squidoo.

But Google has really messed up on some things. And it is has affected webmasters around the world. Domains that have no content whatsoever are ranking for the #1 spot for some search queries. Google has also ranked sites for search queries that have no relevance whatsoever.

It’s quite bizarre obviously the quality of search in Google has decreased considerably. Having a bit of a headache today, I searched for

headache remedies

and up comes a very spammy website; the type that Google claims it is trying to eliminate: tons of ads above the fold and the content, and ads all around the content.

Thus far in my observations, Google’s “success” in dealing with ranking for EMD’s (exact match domains) is spotty. I’ve seen very good sites get demoted, brands that are not ranking at all, and poorly crafted sites with an EMD promoted.

It just doesn’t make sense. Surely Google staff realize just how poor of a job this latest update, which reminds me of Altavista results over a decade ago, is.

What are your thoughts?  Are you considering switching to DuckDuckGo (DDG) or Bing? I have to admit I am seeing results I like much better on those two engines, and I like the fact that DDG has a much better privacy policy than Google does. Would that also be something that is important to you?

Will “I Ducked It” Make It Into Our Everyday Vernacular?

As Google began to win the search engine wars some years ago, it became a common expression to say “I googled it,” or to ask, “Did you google it?” It may be way to early to tell, but with a new search engine gaining in some popularity, we might be saying something like “I ducked it” in the future.

duck duck goI’ve been playing around with the search engine, DuckDuckGo. And I really like the results it provides for the search terms I’ve typed in. Although the number of searches per day is no where near the number that Google processes (I believe one report says that the number has grown to just over 1.5 million per day for DDG – whereas Google processes hundreds of millions of queries per day), more and more internet searchers are using DuckDuckGo (Or DDG for short).

There are many reasons for the interest in DDG; one of which is a major concern among many that Google just knows too much about what you search for, and privacy concerns abound. As well, as Google has grown, search results have sometimes become cluttered and confusing.

DDG’s slogan seems to be “Google Tracks You. We Don’t,” and indeed, there is nothing to log in to. Although there is some advertising on some of the search results, they are not as many as what you will find on many of Google’s search results pages.  Another nice feature of the results that a searcher will get is that DDG doesn’t try to guess at what results you might like or are looking for. In other words, the results are really and truly organic.  Organic search results are those that appear due to the relevance of the search terms however Google is now trying to “customize” search results – which in my opinion means that organic results in Google are not really all that organic anymore.

As far as the results themselves, I quite like them. For a couple of reasons:

A search for ‘fly fishing’ for example provides a wider range of results in the first ten than what I get doing the same search on Google. The results that appear are a mix of informational websites as well as a couple of commercial sites that sell gear – whereas on Google, five of the top ten results are for websites such as Orvis, Sage, Bass Pro Shops and other retailers. To me, if I was looking for those kinds of sites, I would be searching for something like ‘fly fishing gear’ or ‘fly fishing equipment’.

Another reason I like DDG is that all of our web properties that we manage actually rank better or about the same in DDG than in Google, for the most part. So that’s a personal observation that of course, I’d want to see.

In an interview with Talking Points Memo, Founder of DDG, Gabriel Weinberg, reported that less than 0.1% of their traffic came from the US, with half of all their traffic coming from Europe.

As I played around with DDG, I discovered that while it may not capture or store information about searches, it does know where I am based on my IP address. I typed in ‘Orangeville weather’ and it knew to provide me with the forecast for my hometown of Orangeville, Ontario and not any of the other Orangeville’s that exist in North America.

The one thing I don’t like about the search results is that they are displayed in groups of 25 – and to get more, you just scroll down (or there is a setting to provide a “page break” line) and the next 25 results will appear. I would prefer personally if the search results were on multiple pages. I find it easier to see the results in smaller groups than the way it is designed right now.

Other than that, I quite like DuckDuckGo. I doubt I will use it for all of my searches and completely abandon Google – Google still has features that I use and like.  However, there are a number of features on DDG that I do really like as well and want to try out a bit more.

So will we be saying, “I ducked it” anytime soon? I don’t know – it’s hard to say whether DDG will rival either Google or Bing in use – but so far, it’s showing potential.