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12 Reasons Your Website Can Have A High Bounce Rate

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12 Reasons Your Website Can Have A High Bounce Rate

"Why do I have such a high bounce rate?”

It’s a question you’ll encounter on Twitter, Reddit, and your favorite digital marketing Facebook group.

It’s a question you may have even asked yourself. Heck, it could be the question that brought you to this article.

Whatever brought you here, rest assured: There is no “perfect” bounce rate.

But you don’t necessarily want one that’s too high.

Read on as we dig into what may be causing your high bounce rate and what you can do to fix it.

What Is A Bounce Rate?

As a refresher, Google refers to a “bounce” as “a single-page session on your site.”

Bounce rate refers to the percentage of visitors that leave your website (or “bounce” back to the search results or referring website) after viewing only one page on your site.

This can even happen when a user idles on a page for more than 30 minutes.

So, what is a high bounce rate, and why is it bad?

Well, “high bounce rate” is a relative term that depends on your company’s goals and what kind of site you have.

Low bounce rates can be a problem, too.

Data from Semrush suggests the average bounce rate ranges from 41% to 55%, with a range of 26% to 40% being optimal, and anything above 46% is considered “high.”

This aligns well with data from an earlier RocketFuel study, which found that most websites will see bounce rates between 26% to 70%:

Screenshot from gorocketfuel.com, September 2022

Based on the data they gathered, RocketFuel provided a bounce rate grading system of sorts:

  • 25% or lower: Something is probably broken.
  • 26-40%: Excellent.
  • 41-55%: Average.
  • 56-70%: Higher than normal, but could make sense depending on the website.
  • 70% or higher: Bad and/or something is probably broken.

How To Find Your Bounce Rate In Google Analytics

In Google Analytics 4, Google seems to have done away with bounce rate as we know it (more on this in a bit).

In Universal Analytics, you can find the overall bounce rate for your site in the Audience Overview tab.

How To Find Your Bounce Rate In Google AnalyticsScreenshot from Google Analytics UA, September 2022

You can find your bounce rate for individual channels and pages in the behavior column of most views in Google Analytics.

12 Reasons Your Website Can Have A High Bounce RateScreenshot from Google Analytics UA, September 2022

However, most organizations are currently transitioning to Google Analytics 4, affectionately known as GA4.

If your organization is in that boat, you may be wondering, “Where did the bounce rate go?”

Your eyes aren’t tricking you; Google indeed removed the bounce rate. Or, rather, they replaced it with a new and improved metric called “engagement rate.”

In GA4, you can find your site’s bounce rate engagement rate by navigating to Acquisition > User acquisition eller Acquisition > Traffic acquisition.

Engagement rate fixes some of the pitfalls that plagued bounce rate as a metric. For one, it includes sessions where a visitor converted or spent at least 10 seconds on the page, even if they did not visit any other pages – two types of sessions that were not factored in previously.

As a result, you should see your bounce rate lower in GA4. Once you do a little bit of math, that is.

To calculate your new bounce rate, you simply subtract your engagement rate from 100%.

how to find bounce rate aka engagement rate in google analytics 4 ga4Screenshot from Google Analytics 4, September 2022

While bounce rate is an important metric, I’m happy to see Google made this change.

Instead of focusing on the negative, it encourages us to focus on the positive: How many people are engaged with your site.

Plus, it’s a more accurate and relevant metric now.

In GA4, engagement rate counts a visitor as “engaged” if they visited 2+ pages, spent at least 10 seconds on your site or converted.

Now, let’s get back to what you came here for: Why your bounce rate is high and what you can do about it.

Possible Explanations For A High Bounce Rate

Below are 12 common causes of a high bounce rate, followed by five ways you can fix it.

1. Slow-To-Load Page

Google has a renewed focus on site speed, especially as a part of the Core Web Vitals initiative.

A slow-to-load page can be a huge problem for bounce rates.

Site speed is part of Google’s ranking algorithm. It always has been.

Google wants to promote content that provides a positive experience for users, and they recognize that a slow site can provide a poor experience.

Users want the facts fast – this is part of the reason Google has put so much work into featured snippets.

If your page takes longer than a few seconds to load, your visitors may get fed up and leave.

Fixing site speed is a lifelong journey for most SEO and marketing pros.

But the upside is that with each incremental fix, you should see an incremental boost in speed.

Review your page speed (overall and for individual pages) using tools like:

  • Google PageSpeed Insights.
  • Google Search Console PageSpeed reports.
  • Lighthouse reports.
  • Pingdom.
  • GTmetrix.

They’ll offer you recommendations specific to your site, such as compressing your images, reducing third-party scripts, and leveraging browser caching.

2. Self-Sufficient Content*

Sometimes your content is efficient enough that people can quickly get what they need and bounce!

This can be a wonderful thing.

Perhaps you’ve achieved the content marketer’s dream and created awesome content that wholly consumed them for a handful of minutes in their lives.

Or perhaps you have a landing page that only requires the user to complete a short lead form.

To determine whether bounce rate is nothing to worry about, you’ll want to look at the Time Spent on Page and Average Session Duration metrics in Google Analytics.

You can also conduct user experience testing and A/B testing to see if the high bounce rate is a problem.

If the user is spending a couple of minutes or more on the page, that sends a positive signal to Google that they found your page highly relevant to their search query.

If you want to rank for that particular search query, that kind of user intent is gold.

If the user is spending less than a minute on the page (which may be the case of a properly optimized landing page with a quick-hit CTA form), consider enticing the reader to read some of your related blog posts after filling out the form.

*This is an example where GA4’s engagement rate may be a superior metric to UA’s bounce rate. In GA4, this type of session would not count as a bounce and would instead count as “engaged.”

3. Disproportional Contribution By A Few Pages

If we expand on the example from the previous section, you may have a few pages on your site that are contributing disproportionally to the overall bounce rate for your site.

Google is savvy at recognizing the difference between these.

If your single CTA landing pages reasonably satisfy user intent and cause them to bounce quickly after taking an action, but your longer-form content pages have a lower bounce rate, you’re probably good to go.

However, you will want to dig in and confirm that this is the case or discover if some of these pages with a higher bounce rate shouldn’t be causing users to leave en masse.

Open up Google Analytics. Go to Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages, and sort by Bounce Rate.

Consider adding an advanced filter to remove pages that might skew the results.

For example, it’s not necessarily helpful to agonize over the one Twitter share with five visits that have all your social UTM parameters tacked onto the end of the URL.

My rule of thumb is to determine a minimum threshold of volume that is significant for the page.

Choose what makes sense for your site, whether it’s 100 visits or 1,000 visits, and then click on Advanced and filter for Sessions greater than that.

Disproportional Contribution By A Few Pages

In GA4, navigate to Acquisition > User acquisition eller Acquisition > Traffic acquisition. From there, click on “Add filter +” underneath the report title.

Select filter in Google Analytics 4

Create a filter by selecting “Session default channel grouping” (or “Session medium” or “Session source / medium” etc.). Then check the box for “Organic Search” in the Dimension values menu.

Google Analytics filter report by Organic Search

Click the blue Apply button. Once you’re back in the report, click on the blue plus sign to open up a new menu.

add filer in google analytics 4

Navigate to Page/screen and select Landing page.

google analytics 4 additional filters

4. Misleading Title Tag And/Or Meta Description

Ask yourself: Is the content of your page accurately summarized by your title tag och meta description?

If not, visitors may enter your site thinking your content is about one thing, only to find that it isn’t, and then bounce back to whence they came.

Whether it was an innocent mistake or you were trying to game the system by optimizing for keyword clickbait (shame on you!), this is, fortunately, simple enough to fix.

Either review the content of your page and adjust the title tag and meta description accordingly. Or, rewrite the content to address the search queries you want to attract visitors for.

You can also check what kind of meta description Google has auto-generated for your page for common searches – Google can change your meta description, and if they make it worse, you can take steps to remedy that.

5. Blank Page Or Technical Error

If your bounce rate is exceptionally high and you see that people are spending less than a few seconds on the page, it’s likely your page is blank, returning a 404, or otherwise not loading properly.

Take a look at the page from your audience’s most popular browser and device configurations (e.g., Safari on desktop and mobile, Chrome on mobile, etc.) to replicate their experience.

You can also check in Search Console under Coverage to discover the issue from Google’s perspective.

Correct the issue yourself or talk to someone who can – an issue like this can cause Google to drop your page from the search results in a hurry.

12 Reasons Your Website Can Have A High Bounce Rate

6. Bad Link From Another Website

You could be doing everything perfectly on your end to achieve a normal or low bounce rate from organic search results and still have a high bounce rate from your referral traffic.

The referring site could be sending you unqualified visitors, or the anchor text and context for the link could be misleading.

Sometimes this is a result of sloppy copywriting.

The writer or publisher linked to your site in the wrong part of the copy or didn’t mean to link to your site at all.

Reach out to the author of the article first. If they don’t respond or they can’t update the article after publishing, then you can escalate the issue to the site’s editor or webmaster.

Politely ask them to remove the link to your site – or update the context, whichever makes sense.

(Tip: You can easily find their contact information with this guide.)

Unfortunately, the referring website may be trying to sabotage you with some negative SEO tactics out of spite or just for fun.

For example, they may have linked to your “Guide To Adopting A Puppy” with the anchor text of FREE GET RICH QUICK SCHEME.

You should still reach out and politely ask them to remove the link, but if needed, you’ll want to update your disavow file in Search Console.

Disavowing the link won’t reduce your bounce rate, but it will tell Google not to take that site’s link into account when it comes to determining the quality and relevance of your site.

7. Affiliate Landing Page Or Single-Page Site*

If you’re an affiliate, the whole point of your page may be to deliberately send people away from your website to the merchant’s site.

In these instances, you’re doing the job right if the page has a higher bounce rate.

A similar scenario would be if you have a single-page website, such as a landing page for your ebook or a simple portfolio site.

It’s common for sites like these to have a very high bounce rate since there’s nowhere else to go.

Remember that Google can usually tell when a website is doing a good job satisfying user intent even if the user’s query is answered super quickly (sites like WhatIsMyScreenResolution.com come to mind).

If you’re interested, you can adjust your bounce rate so it makes more sense for the goals of your website.

For Single Page Apps (or SPAs), you can adjust your analytics settings to see different parts of a page as a different page, adjusting the bounce rate to better reflect the user experience.

*This is another example where GA4’s engagement rate may be a superior metric to UA’s bounce rate. If you’ve set it up so that a click on your affiliate link is considered a conversion event, this type of session would not count as a bounce and would instead count as “engaged.”

8. Low-Quality Or Underoptimized Content

Visitors may be bouncing from your website because your content is just plain bad.

Take a long, hard look at your page and have your most judgmental and honest colleague or friend review it.

(Ideally, this person either has a background in content marketing or copywriting, or they fall into your target audience).

One possibility is that your content is great, but you just haven’t optimized it for online reading – or for the audience that you’re targeting.

  • Are you writing in simple sentences (think high school students versus PhDs)?
  • Is it easily scannable with lots of header tags?
  • Does it cleanly answer questions?
  • Have you included images to break up the copy and make it easy on the eyes?

Writing for the web is different than writing for offline publications.

Brush up your online copywriting skills to increase the time people spend reading your content.

The other possibility is that your content is poorly written overall or simply isn’t something your audience cares about.

Consider hiring a freelance copywriter (like me!) or content strategist who can help you transform your ideas into powerful content that converts.

9. Bad Or Obnoxious UX

Are you bombarding people with ads, pop-up surveys, and email subscribe buttons?

CTA-heavy features like these may be irresistible to the marketing and sales team, but using too many of them can make a visitor run for the hills.

Google’s Core Web Vitals are all about user experience – not only are they ranking factors, but they impact your site visitors’ happiness, too.

Is your site confusing to navigate?

Perhaps your visitors are looking to explore more, but your blog is missing a search box, or the menu items are difficult to click on a smartphone.

As online marketers, we know our websites in and out.

It’s easy to forget that what seems intuitive to us is anything but to our audience.

Make sure you’re avoiding these common design mistakes, and have a web or UX designer review the site and let you know if anything pops out to them as problematic.

10. The Page Isn’t Mobile-Friendly

While SEOs know it’s important to have a mobile-friendly website, the practice isn’t always followed in the real world.

Google announced its switch to mobile-first indexing way back in 2017, but many websites today still wouldn’t be considered mobile-friendly.

Websites that haven’t been optimized for mobile don’t look good on mobile devices – and they don’t load too fast, either.

That’s a recipe for a high bounce rate.

Even if your website was implemented using responsive design principles, it’s still possible that the live page doesn’t read as mobile-friendly to the user.

Sometimes, when a page gets squeezed into a mobile format, it causes some of the key information to move below the fold.

Now, instead of seeing a headline that matches what they saw in search, mobile users only see your site’s navigation menu.

Assuming the page doesn’t offer what they need, they bounce back to Google.

If you see a page with a high bounce rate and no glaring issues immediately jump out to you, test it on your mobile phone.

You can also check for mobile issues in Google Search Console and Lighthouse.

11. Content Depth*

Google can give people quick answers through featured snippets and knowledge panels; you can give people deep, interesting, interconnected content that’s a step beyond that.

Make sure your content compels people to click to explore other pages on your site if it makes sense.

Provide interesting, relevant internal links, and give them a reason to stay.

And for the crowd that wants the quick answer, give them a TL;DR summary at the top.

*This is another example where GA4’s engagement rate may be a superior metric to UA’s bounce rate. If your content is deeply engrossing, people will keep reading after the 10-second mark, leading GA4 to count their session as “engaged” instead of a bounce.

12. Asking For Too Much

Don’t ask someone for their credit card number, social security, grandmother’s pension, and children’s names right off the bat (or ever, in some of those examples) – your user doesn’t trust you yet.

People are ready to be suspicious, considering how many scam websites are out there.

Being presented with a big pop-up asking for info will cause a lot of people to bounce immediately.

Your job is to build trust with your visitors.

Do so, and you’ll both be happier. Your visitor will feel like they can trust you, and you’ll have a lower bounce rate.

Either way, if it makes users happy, Google likes it.

Pro Tips For Reducing Your Bounce Rate

Regardless of the reason behind your high bounce rate, here’s a summary of best practices you can implement to bring it down.

Make Sure Your Content Lives Up To The Hype

Together, you can think of your title tag and meta description as your website’s virtual billboard on Google.

Whatever you’re advertising in the SERPs, your content needs to match.

Don’t call your page an “ultimate guide” if it’s a short post with three tips.

Don’t claim to be the “best” vacuum if your user reviews show a three-star rating.

You get the idea.

Also, make your content readable:

  • Break up your text with lots of white space.
  • Add supporting images.
  • Use short sentences.
  • Spellcheck is your friend.
  • Use a good, clean design.
  • Don’t bombard visitors with too many ads.

Keep Critical Elements Above The Fold

Sometimes, your content matches what you advertise in your title tag and meta description. It’s just that your visitors can’t tell at first glance.

When people arrive on a website, they make an immediate first impression.

You want that first impression to validate whatever they thought they were going to see when they arrived.

A prominent H1 should match the title they read on Google.

If it’s an ecommerce site, a photo should match the product description they saw on Google.

Also, make sure these elements aren’t obscured by pop-ups or advertisements.

Speed Up Your Site

When it comes to SEO, faster is always better.

Keeping up with site speed is a task that should remain firmly stuck at the top of your SEO to-do list.

There will always be new ways to compress, optimize, and otherwise accelerate load time. For now, make sure to:

  • Compress all images before loading them to your site, and only use the maximum display size necessary.
  • Review and remove any external or load-heavy scripts, stylesheets, and plugins. If there are any you don’t need, remove them. For the ones you do need, see if there’s a faster option.
  • Tackle the basics: Use a CDN, minify JavaScript and CSS, and set up browser caching.
  • Check Lighthouse for more suggestions.

Minimize Non-Essential Elements

Don’t bombard your visitors with pop-up ads, in-line promotions, and other content they don’t care about.

Visual overwhelm can cause visitors to bounce.

What CTA is the most important for the page?

Compellingly highlight that.

For everything else, delegate it to your sidebar or footer.

Edit, edit, edit!

Help People Get Where They Want To Be Faster

Want to encourage people to browse more of your site?

Make it easy for them.

  • Leverage on-site search with predictive search, helpful filters, and an optimized “no results found” page.
  • Rework your navigation menu and A/B test how complex vs. simple drop-down menus affect your bounce rate.
  • Include a Table of Contents in your long-form articles with anchor links taking people straight to the section they want to read.

Slutsats

Remember: Bounce rates are just one metric.

A high bounce rate doesn’t mean the end of the world.

Some well-designed, effective webpages have high bounce rates – and that’s okay.

Bounce rates can be a measure of how well your site is performing, but it’s good to keep them in context.

Hopefully, this article helped you diagnose what’s causing your high bounce rate, and you have a good idea of how to fix it.

Not sure where to start?

Make your site useful, user-focused, and fast – good sites attract good users.

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Featured Image: Cagkan Sayin/Shutterstock



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13 Best High Ticket Affiliate Marketing Programs 2023

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13 Best High Ticket Affiliate Marketing Programs 2023

Are you looking for more ways to generate income for yourself or your business this year?

With high-ticket affiliate marketing programs, you earn money by recommending your favorite products or services to those who need them.

Affiliate marketers promote products through emails, blog posts, social media updates, YouTube videos, podcasts, and other forms of content with proper disclosure.

While not all affiliate marketers make enough to quit their 9-to-5, any additional income in the current economy can come in handy for individuals and businesses.

How To Get Started With Affiliate Marketing

Here’s a simple summary of how to get started with affiliate marketing.

  • Build an audience. You need websites with traffic, email lists with subscribers, or social media accounts with followers to promote a product – or ideally, a combination of all three.
  • Find products and services you can passionately promote to the audience you have built. The more you love something and believe in its efficacy, the easier it will be to convince someone else to buy it.
  • Sign up for affiliate and referral programs. These will be offered directly through the company selling the product or service, or a third-party affiliate platform.
  • Fill out your application and affiliate profile completely. Include your niche, monthly website traffic, number of email subscribers, and social media audience size. Companies will use that information to approve or reject your application.
  • Get your custom affiliate or referral link and share it with your audience, or the segment of your audience that would benefit most from the product you are promoting.
  • Look for opportunities to recommend products to new people. You can be helpful, make a new acquaintance, and earn a commission.
  • Monitor your affiliate dashboard and website analytics for insights into your clicks and commissions.
  • Adjust your affiliate marketing tactics based on the promotions that generate the most revenue.

Now, continue reading about the best high-ticket affiliate programs you can sign up for in 2023. They offer a high one-time payout, recurring commissions, or both.

The Best High-Ticket Affiliate Marketing Programs

What makes them these affiliate marketing programs the “best” is subjective, but I chose these programs based on their payout amounts, number of customers, and average customer ratings. Customer ratings help determine whether a product is worth recommending. You can also use customer reviews to help you market the products or services when you highlight impressive results customers gain from using the product or service, and the features customers love most.

1. Smartproxy

Smartproxy allows customers to access business data worldwide for competitor research, search engine results page (SERP) scraping, price aggregation, and ad verification.

836 reviewers gave it an average rating of 4.7 out of five stars.

Earn up to $2,000 per customer that you refer to Smartproxy using its affiliate program.

2. Thinkific

Thinkific is an online course creation platform used by over 50,000 instructors in over 100 million courses.

669 reviewers gave it an average rating of 4.6 out of five stars.

Earn up to $1,700 per referral per year through the Thinkific affiliate program.

3. BigCommerce

BigCommerce is an ecommerce provider with open SaaS, headless integrations, omnichannel, B2B, and offline-to-online solutions.

648 reviewers gave it an average rating of 8.1 out of ten stars.

Earn up to $1,500 for new enterprise customers, or 200% of the customer’s first payment by signing up for the BigCommerce affiliate program.

4. Teamwork

Teamwork, project management software focused on maximizing billable hours, helps everyone in your organization become more efficient – from the founder to the project managers.

1,022 reviewers gave it an average rating of 4.4 out of five stars.

Earn up to $1,000 per new customer referral with the Teamwork affiliate program.

5. Flywheel

Flywheel provides managed WordPress hosting geared towards agencies, ecommerce, and high-traffic websites.

36 reviewers gave it an average rating of 4.4 out of five stars.

Earn up to $500 per new referral from the Flywheel affiliate program.

6. Teachable

Teachable is an online course platform used by over 100,000 entrepreneurs, creators, and businesses of all sizes to create engaging online courses and coaching businesses.

150 reviewers gave it a 4.4 out of five stars.

Earn up to $450 (average partner earnings) per month by joining the Teachable affiliate program.

7. Shutterstock

Shutterstock is a global marketplace for sourcing stock photographs, vectors, illustrations, videos, and music.

507 reviewers gave it an average rating of 4.4 out of five stars.

Earn up to $300 for new customers by signing up for the Shutterstock affiliate program.

8. HubSpot

HubSpot provides a CRM platform to manage your organization’s marketing, sales, content management, and customer service.

3,616 reviewers gave it an average rating of 4.5 out of five stars.

Earn an average payout of $264 per month (based on current affiliate earnings) with the HubSpot affiliate program, or more as a solutions partner.

9. Sucuri

Sucuri is a cloud-based security platform with experienced security analysts offering malware scanning and removal, protection from hacks and attacks, and better site performance.

251 reviewers gave it an average rating of 4.6 out of five stars.

Earn up to $210 per new sale by joining Sucuri referral programs for the platform, firewall, and agency products.

10. ADT

ADT is a security systems provider for residences and businesses.

588 reviewers gave it an average rating of 4.5 out of five stars.

Earn up to $200 per new customer that you refer through the ADT rewards program.

11. DreamHost

DreamHost web hosting supports WordPress and WooCommerce websites with basic, managed, and VPS solutions.

3,748 reviewers gave it an average rating of 4.7 out of five stars.

Earn up to $200 per referral and recurring monthly commissions with the DreamHost affiliate program.

12. Shopify

Shopify, a top ecommerce solution provider, encourages educators, influencers, review sites, and content creators to participate in its affiliate program. Affiliates can teach others about entrepreneurship and earn a commission for recommending Shopify.

Earn up to $150 per referral and grow your brand as a part of the Shopify affiliate program.

13. Kinsta

Kinsta is a web hosting provider that offers managed WordPress, application, and database hosting.

529 reviewers gave it a 4.3 out of five stars.

Earn $50 – $100 per new customer, plus recurring revenue via the Kinsta affiliate program.

Even More Affiliate Marketing Programs

In addition to the high-ticket affiliate programs listed above, you can find more programs to join with a little research.

  • Search for affiliate or referral programs for all of the products or services you have a positive experience with, personally or professionally.
  • Search for affiliate or referral programs for all of the places you shop online.
  • Search for partner programs for products and services your organization uses or recommends to others.
  • Search for products and services that match your audience’s needs on affiliate platforms like Shareasale, Awin, and CJ.
  • Follow influencers in your niche to see what products and services they recommend. They may have affiliate or referral programs as well.

A key to affiliate marketing success is to diversify the affiliate marketing programs you join.

It will ensure that you continue to generate an affiliate income, regardless of if one company changes or shutters its program.

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Featured image: Shutterstock/fatmawati achmad zaenuri



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The Current State of Google PageRank & How It Evolved

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The Current State of Google PageRank & How It Evolved

PageRank (PR) is an algorithm that improves the quality of search results by using links to measure the importance of a page. It considers links as votes, with the underlying assumption being that more important pages are likely to receive more links.

PageRank was created by Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page in 1997 when they were at Stanford University, and the name is a reference to both Larry Page and the term “webpage.” 

In many ways, it’s similar to a metric called “impact factor” for journals, where more cited = more important. It differs a bit in that PageRank considers some votes more important than others. 

By using links along with content to rank pages, Google’s results were better than competitors. Links became the currency of the web.

Want to know more about PageRank? Let’s dive in.

Google still uses PageRank

In terms of modern SEO, PageRank is one of the algorithms comprising Experience Expertise Authoritativeness Trustworthiness (E-E-A-T).

Google’s algorithms identify signals about pages that correlate with trustworthiness and authoritativeness. The best known of these signals is PageRank, which uses links on the web to understand authoritativeness.

Källa: How Google Fights Disinformation

We’ve also had confirmation from Google reps like Gary Illyes, who said that Google still uses PageRank and that links are used for E-A-T (now E-E-A-T).

When I ran a study to measure the impact of links and effectively removed the links using the disavow tool, the drop was obvious. Links still matter for rankings.

PageRank has also been a confirmed factor when it comes to crawl budget. It makes sense that Google wants to crawl important pages more often.

Fun math, why the PageRank formula was wrong 

Crazy fact: The formula published in the original PageRank paper was wrong. Let’s look at why. 

PageRank was described in the original paper as a probability distribution—or how likely you were to be on any given page on the web. This means that if you sum up the PageRank for every page on the web together, you should get a total of 1.

Here’s the full PageRank formula from the original paper published in 1997:

PR(A) = (1-d) + d (PR(T1)/C(T1) + … + PR(Tn)/C(Tn))

Simplified a bit and assuming the damping factor (d) is 0.85 as Google mentioned in the paper (I’ll explain what the damping factor is shortly), it’s:

PageRank for a page = 0.15 + 0.85 (a portion of the PageRank of each linking page split across its outbound links)

In the paper, they said that the sum of the PageRank for every page should equal 1. But that’s not possible if you use the formula in the paper. Each page would have a minimum PageRank of 0.15 (1-d). Just a few pages would put the total at greater than 1. You can’t have a probability greater than 100%. Something is wrong!

The formula should actually divide that (1-d) by the number of pages on the internet for it to work as described. It would be:

PageRank for a page = (0.15/number of pages on the internet) + 0.85 (a portion of the PageRank of each linking page split across its outbound links)

It’s still complicated, so let’s see if I can explain it with some visuals.

1. A page is given an initial PageRank score based on the links pointing to it. Let’s say I have five pages with no links. Each gets a PageRank of (1/5) or 0.2.

PageRank example of five pages with no links yet

2. This score is then distributed to other pages through the links on the page. If I add some links to the five pages above and calculate the new PageRank for each, then I end up with this: 

PageRank example of five pages after one iteration

You’ll notice that the scores are favoring the pages with more links to them.

3. This calculation is repeated as Google crawls the web. If I calculate the PageRank again (called an iteration), you’ll see that the scores change. It’s the same pages with the same links, but the base PageRank for each page has changed, so the resulting PageRank is different.

PageRank example of five pages after two iterations

The PageRank formula also has a so-called “damping factor,” the “d” in the formula, which simulates the probability of a random user continuing to click on links as they browse the web. 

Think of it like this: The probability of you clicking a link on the first page you visit is reasonably high. But the likelihood of you then clicking a link on the next page is slightly lower, and so on and so forth.

If a strong page links directly to another page, it’s going to pass a lot of value. If the link is four clicks away, the value transferred from that strong page will be a lot less because of the damping factor.

Example showing PageRank damping factor
History of PageRank

The first PageRank patent was filed on January 9, 1998. It was titled “Method for node ranking in a linked database.” This patent expired on January 9, 2018, and was not renewed. 

Google first made PageRank public when the Google Directory launched on March 15, 2000. This was a version of the Open Directory Project but sorted by PageRank. The directory was shut down on July 25, 2011.

It was December 11, 2000, when Google launched PageRank in the Google toolbar, which was the version most SEOs obsessed over.

This is how it looked when PageRank was included in Google’s toolbar. 

PageRank 8/10 in Google's old toolbar

PageRank in the toolbar was last updated on December 6, 2013, and was finally removed on March 7, 2016.

The PageRank shown in the toolbar was a little different. It used a simple 0–10 numbering system to represent the PageRank. But PageRank itself is a logarithmic scale where achieving each higher number becomes increasingly difficult.

PageRank even made its way into Google Sitemaps (now known as Google Search Console) on November 17, 2005. It was shown in categories of high, medium, low, or N/A. This feature was removed on October 15, 2009.

Link spam

Over the years, there have been a lot of different ways SEOs have abused the system in the search for more PageRank and better rankings. Google has a whole list of link schemes that include:

  • Buying or selling links—exchanging links for money, goods, products, or services.
  • Excessive link exchanges.
  • Using software to automatically create links.
  • Requiring links as part of a terms of service, contract, or other agreement.
  • Text ads that don’t use nofollow or sponsored attributes.
  • Advertorials or native advertising that includes links that pass ranking credit.
  • Articles, guest posts, or blogs with optimized anchor text links.
  • Low-quality directories or social bookmark links.
  • Keyword-rich, hidden, or low-quality links embedded in widgets that get put on other websites.
  • Widely distributed links in footers or templates. For example, hard-coding a link to your website into the WP Theme that you sell or give away for free.
  • Forum comments with optimized links in the post or signature.

The systems to combat link spam have evolved over the years. Let’s look at some of the major updates.

Nofollow

On January 18, 2005, Google announced it had partnered with other major search engines to introduce the rel=“nofollow” attribute. It encouraged users to add the nofollow attribute to blog comments, trackbacks, and referrer lists to help combat spam.

Here’s an excerpt from Google’s official statement on the introduction of nofollow:

If you’re a blogger (or a blog reader), you’re painfully familiar with people who try to raise their own websites’ search engine rankings by submitting linked blog comments like “Visit my discount pharmaceuticals site.” This is called comment spam, we don’t like it either, and we’ve been testing a new tag that blocks it. From now on, when Google sees the attribute (rel=“nofollow”) on hyperlinks, those links won’t get any credit when we rank websites in our search results. 

Almost all modern systems use the nofollow attribute on blog comment links. 

SEOs even began to abuse nofollow—because of course we did. Nofollow was used for PageRank sculpting, where people would nofollow some links on their pages to make other links stronger. Google eventually changed the system to prevent this abuse.

In 2009, Google’s Matt Cutts confirmed that this would no longer work and that PageRank would be distributed across links even if a nofollow attribute was present (but only passed through the followed link).

Google added a couple more link attributes that are more specific versions of the nofollow attribute on September 10, 2019. These included rel=“ugc” meant to identify user-generated content and rel=“sponsored” meant to identify links that were paid or affiliate.

Algorithms targeting link spam

As SEOs found new ways to game links, Google worked on new algorithms to detect this spam. 

When the original Penguin algorithm launched on April 24, 2012, it hurt a lot of websites and website owners. Google gave site owners a way to recover later that year by introducing the disavow tool on October 16, 2012.

When Penguin 4.0 launched on September 23, 2016, it brought a welcome change to how link spam was handled by Google. Instead of hurting websites, it began devaluing spam links. This also meant that most sites no longer needed to use the disavow tool. 

Google launched its first Link Spam Update on July 26, 2021. This recently evolved, and a Link Spam Update on December 14, 2022, announced the use of an AI-based detection system called SpamBrain to neutralize the value of unnatural links. 

The original version of PageRank hasn’t been used since 2006, according to a former Google employee. The employee said it was replaced with another less resource-intensive algorithm.

They replaced it in 2006 with an algorithm that gives approximately-similar results but is significantly faster to compute. The replacement algorithm is the number that’s been reported in the toolbar, and what Google claims as PageRank (it even has a similar name, and so Google’s claim isn’t technically incorrect). Both algorithms are O(N log N) but the replacement has a much smaller constant on the log N factor, because it does away with the need to iterate until the algorithm converges. That’s fairly important as the web grew from ~1-10M pages to 150B+.

Remember those iterations and how PageRank kept changing with each iteration? It sounds like Google simplified that system.

What else has changed?

Some links are worth more than others

Rather than splitting the PageRank equally between all links on a page, some links are valued more than others. There’s speculation from patents that Google switched from a random surfer model (where a user may go to any link) to a reasonable surfer model (where some links are more likely to be clicked than others so they carry more weight).

Some links are ignored

There have been several systems put in place to ignore the value of certain links. We’ve already talked about a few of them, including:

  • Nofollow, UGC, and sponsored attributes.
  • Google’s Penguin algorithm.
  • The disavow tool.
  • Link Spam updates.

Google also won’t count any links on pages that are blocked by robots.txt. It won’t be able to crawl these pages to see any of the links. This system was likely in place from the start.

Some links are consolidated

Google has a canonicalization system that helps it determine what version of a page should be indexed and to consolidate signals from duplicate pages to that main version.

Canonicalization signals

Canonical link elements were introduced on February 12, 2009, and allow users to specify their preferred version.

Redirects were originally said to pass the same amount of PageRank as a link. But at some point, this system changed and no PageRank is currently lost.

A bit is still unknown

When pages are marked as noindex, we don’t exactly know how Google treats the links. Even Googlers have conflicting statements.

According to John Mueller, pages that are marked noindex will eventually be treated as noindex, nofollow. This means that the links eventually stop passing any value.

According to Gary, Googlebot will discover and follow the links as long as a page still has links to it.

These aren’t necessarily contradictory. But if you go by Gary’s statement, it could be a very long time before Google stops crawling and counting links—perhaps never.

Can you still check your PageRank?

There’s currently no way to see Google’s PageRank.

URL Rating (UR) is a good replacement metric for PageRank because it has a lot in common with the PageRank formula. It shows the strength of a page’s link profile on a 100-point scale. The bigger the number, the stronger the link profile.

Screenshot showing UR score from Ahrefs overview 2.0

Both PageRank and UR account for internal and external links when being calculated. Many of the other strength metrics used in the industry completely ignore internal links. I’d argue link builders should be looking more at UR than metrics like DR, which only accounts for links from other sites.

However, it’s not exactly the same. UR does ignore the value of some links and doesn’t count nofollow links. We don’t know exactly what links Google ignores and don’t know what links users may have disavowed, which will impact Google’s PageRank calculation. We also may make different decisions on how we treat some of the canonicalization signals like canonical link elements and redirects.

So our advice is to use it but know that it may not be exactly like Google’s system.

We also have Page Rating (PR) in Site Audit’s Page Explorer. This is similar to an internal PageRank calculation and can be useful to see what the strongest pages on your site are based on your internal link structure.

Page rating in Ahrefs' Site Audit

How to improve your PageRank

Since PageRank is based on links, to increase your PageRank, you need better links. Let’s look at your options.

Redirect broken pages

Redirecting old pages on your site to relevant new pages can help reclaim and consolidate signals like PageRank. Websites change over time, and people don’t seem to like to implement proper redirects. This may be the easiest win, since those links already point to you but currently don’t count for you.

Here’s how to find those opportunities:

I usually sort this by “Referring domains.”

Best by links report filtered to 404 status code to show pages you may want to redirect

Take those pages and redirect them to the current pages on your site. If you don’t know exactly where they go or don’t have the time, I have an automated redirect script that may help. It looks at the old content from archive.org and matches it with the closest current content on your site. This is where you likely want to redirect the pages.

Internal links

Backlinks aren’t always within your control. People can link to any page on your site they choose, and they can use whatever anchor text they like.

Internal links are different. You have full control over them.

Internally link where it makes sense. For instance, you may want to link more to pages that are more important to you.

We have a tool within Site Audit called Internal Link Opportunities that helps you quickly locate these opportunities. 

This tool works by looking for mentions of keywords that you already rank for on your site. Then it suggests them as contextual internal link opportunities.

For example, the tool shows a mention of “faceted navigation” in our guide to duplicate content. As Site Audit knows we have a page about faceted navigation, it suggests we add an internal link to that page.

Example of an internal link opportunity

External links

You can also get more links from other sites to your own to increase your PageRank. We have a lot of guides around link building already. Some of my favorites are:

Slutgiltiga tankar

Even though PageRank has changed, we know that Google still uses it. We may not know all the details or everything involved, but it’s still easy to see the impact of links.

Also, Google just can’t seem to get away from using links and PageRank. It once experimented with not using links in its algorithm and decided against it.

So we don’t have a version like that that is exposed to the public but we have our own experiments like that internally and the quality looks much much worse. It turns out backlinks, even though there is some noise and certainly a lot of spam, for the most part are still a really really big win in terms of quality of search results.

We played around with the idea of turning off backlink relevance and at least for now backlinks relevance still really helps in terms of making sure that we turn the best, most relevant, most topical set of search results.

Källa: YouTube (Google Search Central)

If you have any questions, message me på Twitter.



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Chrome 110 Changes How Web Share API Embeds Third Party Content

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Chrome 110 Changes How Web Share API Embeds Third Party Content

Chrome 110, scheduled to roll out on February 7, 2023, contains a change to how it handles the Web Share API that improves privacy and security by requiring a the Web Share API to explicitly allow third-party content.

This might not be something that an individual publisher needs to act on.

It’s probably more relevant on the developer side where they are making things like web apps that use the Web Share API.

Nevertheless, it’s good to know what it is for the rare situation when it might be useful for diagnosing why a webpage doesn’t work.

The Mozilla developer page describes the Web Share API:

“The Web Share API allows a site to share text, links, files, and other content to user-selected share targets, utilizing the sharing mechanisms of the underlying operating system.

These share targets typically include the system clipboard, email, contacts or messaging applications, and Bluetooth or Wi-Fi channels.

…Note: This API should not be confused with the Web Share Target API, which allows a website to specify itself as a share target”

allow=”web-share” Attribute

An attribute is an HTML markup that modifies an HTML element in some way.

For example, the nofollow attribute modifies the <a> anchor element, by signaling the search engines that the link is not trusted.

The <iframe> is an HTML element and it can be modified with the allow=”web-share” attribute

An <iframe> allows a webpage to embed HTML, usually from another website.

Iframes are everywhere, such as in advertisements and embedded videos.

The problem with an iframe that contains content from another site is that it creates the possibility of showing unwanted content or allow malicious activities.

And that’s the problem that the allow=”web-share” attribute solves by setting a permission policy for the iframe.

This specific permission policy (allow=”web-share”) tells the browser that it’s okay to display 3rd party content from within an iframe.

Google’s announcement uses this example of the attribute in use:

<iframe allow="web-share" src="https://third-party.example.com/iframe.html"></iframe>

Google calls this a “a potentially breaking change in the Web Share API.

The announcement warns:

“If a sharing action needs to happen in a third-party iframe, a recent spec change requires you to explicitly allow the operation.

Do this by adding an allow attribute to the <iframe> tag with a value of web-share.

This tells the browser that the embedding site allows the embedded third-party iframe to trigger the share action.”

Read the announcement at Google’s Chrome webpage:

New requirements for the Web Share API in third-party iframes

Featured image by Shutterstock/Krakenimages.com



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