My current understanding of SEO is this: One of the ways Google determines a webpage's quality is by how many people click back onto the SERPs. For example, if loads of people click onto your blog after searching "inception explained" and 0% of them click back, then Google will be more likely to rank your page highly.

So this got me thinking: should you optimise your website for "abducting" visitors? By that I mean, do "Related Posts" tabs work well because they draw people away from the thing they were searching for and make them less likely to click back out of your website? And if so, would adverts not also have the same effect?

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    "Related Posts" should not "draw people away from what they were searching for", since they should be "related" - but yes, they should help keep users on the site if the current page isn't exactly what they want or they want to read more on a related subject. However, it's difficult to imagine how the same might apply to adverts. "If" they did help in this respect, by grabbing the the users attention then I imagine you would lose in other ways - as adverts are generally a bad user experience.
    – MrWhite
    Feb 11, 2014 at 15:28
  • IMO, adverts are an unfortunate necessity in some cases to gain revenue that can only harm user experience and indirectly harm SEO.
    – MrWhite
    Feb 11, 2014 at 15:32
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    Bounce rate back to the search results is only one tiny factor in over 200 that Google will use in determining the value of a web page and scoring its relevancy against the search query used. Your time would be much better spent on something more worthwhile in your business (no harm in running a test to measure this though, I'd happily follow it or may try it myself sometime).
    – zigojacko
    Feb 11, 2014 at 15:34
  • "Your time would be much better spent on something more worthwhile in your business" --- It is, I'm just interested in the theory here. Ultimately, if I put adverts on my site, it'll be to earn money, so it's somewhat academic.
    – Zetland
    Feb 11, 2014 at 17:02

2 Answers 2


Your understanding of how Google ranks pages could be incorrect. Many people speculate that Google uses bounce rate as a ranking factory, however Matt Cutts, head of web spam at Google, has denied this on various occasions:

Is Bounce Rate a Signal in Determining What Content May be Spam?

No. Cutts said the Google web spam team doesn’t use Google Analytics data. It’s not a bad thing when someone finds their answer right away and bounces, he said.

Matt Cutts Talks Google Penguin, Negative SEO, Disavowing Links, Bounce Rate & More

“Google doesn’t use bounce rate” @mattcutts 

Matt Cutts: Google Doesn’t Use Bounce Rate

Video: Is Google Analytics data a factor in a page's ranking?

Even if it were a factor, if these "Related Posts" adverts were for different websites, then it would be no different to some one clicking back off your site. The exit in bounce rate is when ever some one exits your site by any means, not just the back button.

  • Ahh, but I'm not talking about 'bounce rate'. A bounce occurs whenever anybody doesn't venture beyond their landing page, but that isn't limited to people clicking back onto the SERPs - it includes people closing the browser, entering a new address, clicking an outbound link (as I'm sure you know.) I'm talking purely about the instance of people returning to their SERP, which is a subtly different phenomenon.
    – Zetland
    Feb 12, 2014 at 8:02

Matt seems to be referring to spam detection. Bounce Rate is a factor in SEO. Consider this: it is used to create higher quality search results (links in SERPs) and tune results. Bounce Rate is a principle metric in gauging search satisfaction as well as other things.

To answer your question. User engagement is meant to help satisfy your user and help answer their question. It may be that they got to the wrong page. A webmaster would use engagement techniques to guide the user to another page that may answer their question. Ads will effect Bounce Rate positively only if Google cannot measure a bounce. If the ad directs to a page with GA code, this may not work in your favor. Your use of the word abducting may match engagement. Ads are not engagement. I suggest thinking in terms of satisfying your users search by tightly tuning your on page optimization and using links to other resources that are related to that page. If effective, your Bounce Rate should reduce. Also consider the inbound links to that page and whether they reflect the topic correctly.

I hope this helps.

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