Google Exec: Clicks Don't Equal Success, Bounce-Rate Does

Avinash Kaushik of GoogleFor many media and marketing professionals, "hits" refer to the number of times that consumers visit and/or click on a Web page. For Avinash Kaushik, analytics evangelist at Google, HITS is an acronym, which stands for "How Idiots Track Success."

Why is measuring the success of a Web site by the number of hits it receives idiotic? "Click-stream has become a lot more sophisticated," Kaushik said during a keynote address at a conference hosted by the Magazine Publishers of America trade association on Tuesday. "What you should measure is quality."

One way to measure the quality of a site is a low bounce-rate--or the share of visitors who move onto another site rather than continue onto other pages within the same site. What does a high bounce rate tell you? Visitors are effectively saying, "I came, I puked, I left," said Kaushik.

According to Kaushik, top publisher sites are so often poorly designed because they rely too heavily on HiPPOs--another acronym that stands for the "Highest-Paid Person's Opinion."

"Don't let your opinions get in the way of your success," pleaded Kaushik. Part of the beauty of Web sites, he said, is their "ability to be proven wrong fast."

Web sites are also "infinitely accountable," Kaushik said, unlike magazine print ads, which he described as "faith-based initiatives."

Publishers therefore must tirelessly test their Web sites to more effectively generate not hits, but "irrational loyalty, at scale," Kaushik said.

"You have massive, golden, authoritative content," Kaushik told attendees. Yet, acting solely in the interest of hits is a "fatal miscalculation."

Tags: online, web sites
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6 comments about "Google Exec: Clicks Don't Equal Success, Bounce-Rate Does".
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  1. Leonard Sipes from Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency , March 4, 2009 at 9:42 a.m.

    Google needs to be very careful regarding bounce rates and social media sites. Audio and video have slow download times, and it takes a dedicated visitor to spend 30 minutes to listen to or watch programs. If you have a non-technical market that is difficult to connect to (like mine-the criminal justice community) you end up marketing to the wrong people. That said, we interact with tens of thousands of people who share vital information as to the improvement of public safety. Hundreds of thousands of pages are downloaded each year. And all of this is done at minimal cost to taxpayers (we volunteer much of the time needed-audio podcasting is almost free). See for a federal criminal justice social media site that is clearly a success. Len Sipes

  2. Robert Pettee from LendingTree, LLC , March 4, 2009 at 9:46 a.m.

    Does anyone get the irony here? I agree that clicks don't equal success, but why are clicks used (in large-part) to measure the success of my ads? Too funny.

  3. Mark Samartino from Tribune Media Services , March 4, 2009 at 10:18 a.m.

    Just to clarify, "hit" DOES NOT actually refer to the number of times a user visits and/or clicks on a Web page. A "hit" refers to the user request for a Web Page "hitting" the web site's server. Thus, you could have multiple "hits" to the server but only one view of the Web page. The correct term to use here is a "Page View".

    Here is the definition derived by Webopedia: (1) Also called a page hit. The retrieval of any item, like a page or a graphic, from a Web server. For example, when a visitor calls up a Web page with four graphics, that's five hits, one for the page and four for the graphics. For this reason, hits often aren't a good indication of Web traffic. Compare with page view.

  4. Steve Buttry from Gazette Communications , March 4, 2009 at 11:21 a.m.

    But bounce rate also measures regular visitors who come back to the same place frequently for one purpose which you meet efficiently. Bounce rate needs to filter out repeat visitors or it's worthless. Any web metric has value as well as limitations.

  5. Craig Mcdaniel from Sweepstakes Today LLC , March 4, 2009 at 1:21 p.m.

    At Sweepstakes Today we do not measure page views. They are worthless. What our success is when our members click on to a text link ad that goes directly to the sponsors sweepstakes page. In fact, we track not only the first click but every other click by that member if the sweep is a daily entry type. At the end of the sweep we give our sponsors these numbers.

    So if transparency is the game, this is how it should be played by both the publisher and advertiser.

  6. Kimberly Mccabe from Oshyn , August 8, 2009 at 8:53 p.m.

    But what about when your blogs are a major contributor to traffic. If visitors are subscribing to your RSS feed....they are going to drive up your bounce rate...right?