Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Adsense Ads and Bounce Rate

Do AdSense ads increase the bounce rate?

I've heard concerns about AdSense making a site look spammy in the past, and saw the idea mentioned in this discussion about link building and advertising.

The concern some in the SEO community have is that webmasters will not want to link to sites that have ads on them. There are varied reasons discussed in the above forum. One that stands out to me looks like a myth:

keep in mind ... bounce rate and ... the presence of adsense ads. ... some users ... hit the back button on some sites with adsense.

That's an interesting theory. Bounce rate refers to the percentage of users who leave a site right after landing on it, as opposed to those who visit other pages of the site. Some people think a high bounce rate is a bad thing.

Well, I checked this theory on my Traffic Court website. We have AdSense ads in most states but not all.

Let's start with New York - it's our original and biggest state, and we generally do not use Google ads on the NY pages of the site. I ran Analytics for a set period of time. See the image below - I use the Content by Title display and have my page titles set up so that this is a good (though not perfect) way of catching all pages from a particular state.

The bounce rate for NY for this period was about 67%.

Similarly we have little or no Google ads in New Jersey, and the bounce rate is about 69%:

Now let's look at two states that do have a lot of Google ads. First, Texas:

The bounce rate for Texas is actually lower - 65%. And let's check California also:

The bounce rate for California is lower still, at 64%.

Since the page title method is imperfect, I also looked at the Analytics Map Overlay to compare bounce rates for visitors from different states. This is another imperfect measure, but it may be helpful. Click on the image to enlarge if you can't read it.

Again, NY and NJ, which have almost no AdSense ads, have higher bounce rates than visitors coming from other states that do have AdSense ads - here California and Pennsylvania.

Based on these results, it would seem that the presence of AdSense ads has a minimal impact on bounce rate, and if anything it lowers it.

I'd love to read comments from others about this. What do you think about the impact of AdSense ads on bounce rate? Can you supply any numbers from your own web stats that would shed more light?


Anna from Credit Score Range said...

Nice case studies. I did testing for myself (bounce rate with and withouth ads) and see no difference, either. Anyway, I have a higher bounce rate than you (around 80%). What do you think I should do in order to lower this number? My biggest concern is my website design, but sadly, I cannot find any wordpress premium theme that suit my needs. Thanks for your reply in advance. Regards, Anna.

Unknown said...

Anna - Very hard for someone outside to say why your bounce rate might be so high. That would depend on what leads people to your site in the first place.

If they're looking for something you don't provide, then you should try to figure out what your users are looking for and provide better information.