Did you ever browse one of those editorial websites in which you are click-baited to the page, and then have to click on a “see more” button in order to read on after the first few lines? There’s a LOT of them, even very important ones.
They are just lovely aren’t they?
Want to know what that is about?
Well, they are basically tricking their own data. Repeat after me: they are tricking their own data. I want to be perfectly clear here: when they created the website, they also set up a system of traffic tracking, to evaluate its performance (let’s assume it’s Google Analytics). Afterwards, they found it smart to find a way to cheat their own system.
Now I’ll go through the reason why, but I should explain a simple concept, first. In analysing the performance of a website, an interesting data is the so-called Bounce Rate (BR). I’ll let Google define it, as the “The percentage of single-page sessions in which there was no interaction with the page”. So a session that “bounces” is someone landing on the website, only seeing one page without clicking anywhere, then browsing away. Depending on the type of content you have, it might be good to have a relatively low BR, meaning that people found you for a piece of content, then kept browsing your website. But this depends on the type of site, page, audience, time spent on the page, and more.
Generally speaking, it is always bad to be speaking generally.
So, reasons: in scenario one, the owner of the company which is represented by the website heard from a self-appointed web analyst that the lower the Bounce Rate, the better. Even if it was so, which it isn’t, the natural answer should be to come up with a better understanding of the users’ needs, and try to provide them with better content, in order to keep them in the website. Instead, what they do is to voluntarily make a worse experience for the users, forcing them to an extra click on the “see the whole article” button. Now, the click is an action, so for the very same content now there is no bouncing back, even if the amount of pages seen is exactly the same (that is, one). Smart uh?
Scenario two, the webmaster is fully aware that he/she’s cheating, does it on purpose in order to provide fake data to advertisers. While cheating advertisers will always be encouraged by yours truly, one still finds it funny and puzzling and amazing that they just get away with it.
So here’s my explanation, but I’m still to tell you what I think about it.
I’ll just meme it for you:
And make no mistake, I know sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, and what you gotta do is keep the motor running and the cash flowing. Indeed, it’s the system I’m facepalming to.
Soundtrack: Coma Ecliptic by Between the Buried and Me