Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Analytics Paranoia

I popped downstairs to talk to one of the organic search teams about a new social media project we are doing for their client. In the meeting one of the account managers opined that the theory might confuse our client's web development agency.

I thought that might have been a rather harsh comment and so I asked about it. I got this little nugget of horror as a response.

It turns out that until we came along the web development agency was using Google Analytics to work out which of the clients pages had a high bounce rate. If a page's bounce rate (people abandoning the page quickly) ever spiked too high... they removed Google Analytics from that page!

They removed Google Analytics from the page so that Google couldn't see people were bouncing off.

That's paranoid. Matt's said to his knowledge that Webspam doesn't use GA in that way.

It's also a silly thing to do. You'll end up with data holes all over your analytics.

A much better idea would be to tweak the "high bounce" page so that people stopped bouncing off it. Perhaps re-focus the keywords to something more appropriate or enhance the content to better match searchers' expectations.

Here's the thing - Google does pay attention to bounce rates. If you search for [Andrew Girdwood], click on this URL, return to Google a second later, click on my LinkedIn profile and stay there... Google can see that this blog failed to satisfy your search for [Andrew Girdwood] and LinkedIn seemed to succeed.

If you try and stop Google from noticing user behavior by taking an ad hoc collection of Google Analytics tags off your site then you're just shooting yourself in the foot.