“On the Internet, a high bounce rate is the kiss of death”

A look at who has and who hasn’t gotten that kiss of death in climate communications

One of the more common woes mentioned by climate activists that suffer from bafflement over the tenacity of climate skepticism goes something like this: “if we could just communicate the urgency of climate change, everything would be better”. They think it’s just a matter of tweaking the message, rather than the message itself.

The other day, I wrote an article Another eco-journalist leaves Grist and noted the high bounce rate of the grist.org website, referencing a Mashable article that is the source of the phrase that is the headline. An article on Google Analytics says that:

If you could only choose one metric to look at, Bounce Rate might be your best choice.

I noted with interest the almost 2 to 1 disparity between the bounce rate at Grist and WUWT, and thought it worth exploring to see how bounce rate stacks up elsewhere in the climate blogo-media-sphere, thanks to a little inspiration from Josh. Some sites, like the Center for American Progress Climate Progress are served behind larger websites, so measuring their bounce rate isn’t possible. Below, in no particular order, is a table that lists many well known and some not so well known climate related websites and their bounce rate. The results are telling:

Site Proprietor Type Bounce Rate Rank*
wattsupwiththat.com Watts skeptic 40.90% 9,345
grist.org varied alarmist 72.20% 16,299
skepticalscience.com Cook alarmist 69.10% 73,787
realclimate.org Schmidt alarmist 78.70% 137,851
climatedepot.com Morano skeptic 67.80% 47,880
climaterealityproject.org Gore alarmist 43.00% 226,434
bishop-hill.net Montford skeptic 41.10% 84,427
climateaudit.org McIntyre skeptic 63.20% 76,583
350.org McKibben alarmist 62.80% 101,225
thegwpf.org Peiser skeptic 41.60% 79,508
planet3.org Tobis alarmist 70.60% 1,481,021
rankexploits.com Liljegren lukewarmer 53.70% 238,563
davidappell.blogspot.com Appell alarmist 68.40% 1,593,226
ipcc.ch U.N. alarmist 54.00% 173,946
globalwarming.org C.E.I skeptic 59.50% 916,180
drroyspencer.com Spencer skeptic 60.40% 126,437
joannenova.com.au Nova skeptic 64.00% 61,953
theconversation.com AU/UK gov alarmist 74.20% 18,911
climatecrocks.com Sinclair alarmist 66.70% 321,875
principia-scientific.org O’Sullivan undefinable 81.50% 403,759
forecastthefacts.org Soros? alarmist 25.00% 607,366
judithcurry.com Curry lukewarmer 57.60% 85,517
climate.gov NOAA alarmist 83.70% 140,025
All data above gathered as of 3/15/14 via Alexa.com, and each link is to the alexa.com results.
* Global Traffic Rank score, lower is better, for example Google is ranked as 1.

The most surprising thing to me was finding that NOAA’s climate.gov had a bounce rate of 83.70%, more than twice that of WUWT at 40.90%, and even higher than the “slayers” at principia-scientific. It’s pretty bad when a government website with a budget can’t outperform one of the wackiest climate related websites in existence in engaging their audience. Another surprising thing was that the oxymoronically named agenda driven attack website forecastthefacts had a bounce rate of only 25%. I think this is because there is so little information on their front page that anyone that gets sent there has to click on at least one link (such as about) to figure out who they are. their global ranking is even worse than the “principia/slayers”, suggesting that few are taking them seriously.

From the table, it seems that skeptical websites tend to be ranked generally as having more traffic and lower bounce rates than alarmist websites with some exceptions. Climateaudit tends to have a higher bounce rate due to its highly technical nature, and does Judy Curry’s shop.

According to an Inc.com article:

“As a rule of thumb, a 50 percent bounce rate is average. If you surpass 60 percent, you should be concerned. If you’re in excess of 80 percent, you’ve got a major problem.”

Clearly, a number global warming proponents and some skeptics aren’t very successful in getting their message across on the Internet, NOAA and “Slayers” in particular.

UPDATE: Some folks wanted to see the **daily time spent on each site in minute & seconds per day, so here is an updated table with that added: I had to make this table as an image since wordpress doesn’t play nice with table insertions wider than the available writing space. The highest and lowest values of daily time on site are highlighted.

table_bounce-time

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92 Responses to “On the Internet, a high bounce rate is the kiss of death”

  1. lsvalgaard says:

    What is a ‘Bounce Rate’?

  2. RichardLH says:

    From the Google url

    “Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page visits (i.e. visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).

    There are a number of factors that contribute to your bounce rate. For example, visitors might leave your site from the entrance page if there are site design or usability issues. Alternatively, visitors might also leave the site after viewing a single page if they’ve found the information they need on that one page, and had no need or interest in visiting other pages.”

  3. Anthony Watts says:

    From Wiki:

    Bounce rate (sometimes confused with exit rate) is an Internet marketing term used in web traffic analysis. It represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and “bounce” (leave the site) rather than continue viewing other pages within the same site.

    Bounce rate is a measure of the effectiveness of a website in encouraging visitors to continue with their visit. It is expressed as a percentage and represents the proportion of visits that end on the first page of the website that the visitor sees

    Added a link to this in the article. Thanks for pointing out the absence.

  4. Jimbo says:

    A high bounce rate is not necessarily the kiss of death. It depends what the general subject matter is. Think about online dictionaries, I maybe wrong but I assume they have a high bounce rate and a high bounce rate would be a ‘good’ thing? Now think about a hotel directory, a high bounce rate is a site killer indeed. Bounce rates are best compared to similar subject sites just as you have done above. Just my 2 cents.

  5. jones says:

    Maybe you just shout louder Anthony?

    REPLY: I generally don’t use a megaphone like McKibben or all caps. I just try to tell it in a way I think most people can understand. – Anthony

  6. lsvalgaard says:

    If you get the ‘answer’ to your query right away, that is GOOD and Bounce Rate is 100%

    REPLY: for one person, but not an aggregate experience. – Anthony

  7. littlepeaks says:

    Looking at the Alexa site, I wonder how they obtain the education metrics.

  8. Jimbo says:

    One of the things that can affect bounce rates is how much fresh content there is every day to click on. If WUWT posted 1 article a week it would suffer far higher bounce rates. Climateaudit can go days before a new posting and can sometimes suffer. Sometimes I bounce from WUWT!

  9. R2Dtoo says:

    Bounce rate provides some info. It is not a good metric, however, because I search all my favourite sites several times a day, and if new articles have not been posted, I move on. This raises the bounce rate, but does not reflect lack of interest.

  10. In which case, Leif, visit duration may be more important like when reading WUWT posts with 200 replies. Many metrics but bounce is a decent one.

  11. jones says:

    Ahh…Just a thought but what about people like me who might look in on WUWT many times in a day (honest) but when see nothing new just just click right back out again……Apologies but that would serve to adversely bias the count?

    Unless the very large numbers of viewers tend to “average” out the end result?

    One could say I was addicted!

    Jones

  12. george e. conant says:

    I almost never bounce from WUWT , for two main reasons, the information presented is concise and understandable, and once I start reading the comments I am wasting hours here… LOL

  13. BioBob says:

    lsvalgaard says:
    March 15, 2014 at 10:41 am

    If you get the ‘answer’ to your query right away, that is GOOD and Bounce Rate is 100%
    ———————————————-
    Assuming the answer is not very complicated, not arbitrarily split onto multiple pages, can actually fit onto one page, and that is the only reason you visit a site, yes.

    Human behavior is complicated, kinda like a probability cloud, and these metrics are arbitrary.

  14. stewgreen says:

    I think you are reading too much into it ..there all kinds of things like bots to factor in.
    . Anyway fallacy of consensus
    .. What counts is being right, not your might.

  15. Flood control engineer says:

    In defense of noaa I have several links to data pages I check as needed. Flood projections rainfall freezing weather for construction locations. Some times multiple times per day. I seldom click through unless I need to bookmark another location.

  16. Jimbo says:

    One other thing to consider is the amount of time someone spends on a page. Maybe you have information pages that are excellently written and satisfy the user. On average they spend several minutes reading your great page then bounce. This may happen a lot right across your entire website. Placing related links within paragraphs and images reduces bounce.

    WUWT might be able to reduce its bounce rate if it experimented with placing the Recent Posts above the Blog Stats. Just a thought and you can always revert?

  17. John Whitman says:

    Why I bounce (using the definition A. Watts linked to above).

    1. I bounce at a climate science site that is linked to a thread I am reading if the page contains what is referred to in the original thread I am reading.

    2. I bounce at a climate site if I never heard of it before and it doesn’t look like it adds anything to the dialog.

    3. I bounce at a climate science site when I am just checking for updates and there appear to be no new ones.

    4. I bounce at a climate science site if there is prima fascia name calling or frequent quotes / references about religious texts.

    I never bounce at any climate science site when the philosophy of science or the history of the philosophy of science or the history of science is a fundamental part of the discussion. : ) I am addicted to those. From those discussions I get increased perspective on the non-science central to CAGW.

    John

  18. bernie1815 says:

    Jimbo:
    With respect to Climate Audit, I agree. No new post and no well regarded commenter, both of which are visible n the entry page, then I leave. The same with RealClimate – though there I look for comments from a member of the team which tens to be few and far between in the echo chamber.

  19. Bob says:

    Web site architecture and content are the big determinant of the metrics. The actual organization of your front page can determine whether people will pause there, or go on to other pages. For example, Anthony uses a fairly simple WordPress theme where his articles are listed in chronological form, i.e., last published at the top. As long as he keeps fresh content at the top, his bounce rate should be pretty good as long as his material in interesting. Fortunately, Anthony seems to understand his intended audience.

    Anthony could choose to have several articles “teased” on his front page, and you will see lots of blogs in that configuration. Also, newspapers and department stores will have architectures where the front page is to offer product specials or other items of interest, and then you have to use an extensive menu system to get to the product you want (or click on the picture itself).

    I agree with Anthony that some of the skeptic web sites may suffer in the bounce rate because of the technical level of the content. Climate Audit, Dr Roy Spencer, and Climate Etc (Dr Curry) are examples. I don’t read Skeptical Science because of the low quality of articles, and I don’t read Real Climate because of their penchant for personal attacks. Al Gore’s site creators seem to know their business and their audience. Of course, you get political stuff there, not climate science.

    As far as climate science is concerned, after you read WUWT, Climate Audit, Bishop Hill, JoNova, and Climate Etc, you pretty well have the subject of climate science and news covered.

  20. James Ard says:

    Since it’s nearly impossible to not click the continue reading button on most posts, I can understand the good bounce score. Congratulations again, Anthony, on being the best.

  21. Steve from Rockwood says:

    I never would have guessed that David Appell’s web-site was in the top 1.6 million world-wide.

  22. Jimbo says:

    OK here it is in a kinda nutshell.

    Is High Bounce Rate Always Bad?

    Definitely no! For some web pages (such as landing pages), a high bounce rate is actually desirable. It means that visitors found what they were looking for and left as soon as possible. The same is true for websites with highly specific information (dictionaries, statistics websites, etc.).

    A high bounce rate is a cause for alarm for websites which depend on visitor engagement – blogs, news websites, retail sites, web portals. For others, the bounce rate should be read in context. If the purpose of the web page is to get user information as quickly as possible, then a high bounce rate is completely acceptable.
    https://www.udemy.com/blog/google-analytics-bounce-rate/

    So well done WUWT in your ‘niche’ area.

  23. Bryan A says:

    Another interesting metric would be Time spent associated with Bounce rate. Presumably, if you spent time reading the content on line, the time spent would be greater than if you didn’t find content you were looking for. My searches sometimes list sites that don’t have what I’m looking for and I will bounce out within the first minute or so

  24. timspence10 says:

    Bounce rate, another unfortunate term. Can’t possibly have any meaning except on a first visit to a site. Repeat visits will be for specific information. First visit have a good look around if you like the site.

  25. Bill Jamison says:

    I think bounce rate is almost affected by regularly posting new content. WUWT constantly has new content where many of the other sites don’t. Tamino is a good example, Climate Audit too. If I go to a site and there’s no new content then I bounce.

    Of course that’s not the only reason some of those sites have such a high bounce rate. I believe that WUWT regulars are much more engaged than most people.

  26. David in Cal says:

    Two points:
    1. WUWT often requires one go to a new page in order to open the full item. If the full item were generally available on the top page, WUWT’s bounce rate would be higher.

    2. I’m uncomfortable with making a mere unproved assertion of the significance of the bounce rate. It reminds me of unproved assertions made by warmists, such as the assertion that climate change causes cold spells.

    REPLY: Nobody’s asking you to “prove” anything. It is just an interesting observation that I thought people might find interesting. Chill. – Anthony

  27. ConTrari says:

    I guess a website in decline, like RealClimate, naturally gets a high bouncerate. At least when I occasionally visit them, I see the long silent gaps in their posting (often two weeks between articles), lose interest, and “bounce off”. Whereas on WUWT, both the high number of postings and the subject matter almost always make me open an article and read it through.

    I would think there are also those who go to a website primarily in order to read the comments, and at RC, where the censuring of unwanted opinions is strictly enforced, comments seem to be rather few.

    Of course, being a sceptic, I’m more inclined to read articles here than on RC, but in general it must be boring also for neutral readers to see the same postings as a week before. Once bored, twice shy.

  28. Henry Clark says:

    Alarmist presentation bounce rates can be elevated by being what everyone has heard many times before and hence boring.

    Many other variables may apply, though, like I could investigate a guess of mine that probably WUWT’s average bounce rate went up temporarily at the same time it got effectively extra advertising and views from a Drudge Report link a while back. If so, that could be due to the number of new casual barely-interested-in-climate visitors linked in rising relative to the traditional audience.

    While I couldn’t be more opposed to their goals and claims, frankly the CAGW movement’s skepticalscience.com (dishonest even in its very name) has way more relative influence than relative page rank or page views would superficially indicate. WUWT, daily updated, gets its core audience visiting ~ 100+ times a year. A very large pool of CAGW movement supporters visit skepticalscience.com , used by them in arguments all over the internet and indirectly offline. But most of those just visit when looking up something to copy, a handful of times a year or less amongst those merely once in a while getting in such an argument.

    While a moderate number of skeptics, like myself, have a combo of knowledge and lack of naivety sufficient to handle and defeat the arguments on that site, their smooth dishonest refinement is rather effective against a lot of casuals. On sites and forums not directly related to climate, it is sad how often I’ve seen a skeptic effectively lose an argument due to such as being blindsided by a fudged-data graph from a CAGW movement supporter doing little more than copy pasting. Actually it is unfortunate there is no skeptic equivalent to them in organizational style including topic lists.

  29. Amatør1 says:

    bernie1815 says:
    March 15, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Jimbo:
    With respect to Climate Audit, I agree.

    Somehow, I guess Steve McIntyre cares more for the issues than for bounce rates, a form of beauty contest.

  30. ConTrari says:

    @ Jones:
    “Ahh…Just a thought but what about people like me who might look in on WUWT many times in a day (honest) but when see nothing new just just click right back out again……Apologies but that would serve to adversely bias the count?”

    That’s a point. Often go to WUWT several times a day myself, longing for a good climate story, although I know one can’t expect Mr. Watts to produce stuff continuously, at least not when night embraces America! So, yes, it is a bit of an addiction. Quite a nice one, as addictions go.

  31. Henry Clark says:

    EDIT:

    Also something to look into could be how good various data sources are at distinguishing unique versus non-unique visitors, regarding repeat viewers. For example, my browser is set to auto-clear regular cookies every time it closes; it usually doesn’t take flash cookies; and my IP address varies too. Some web traffic monitors (including probably Alexa if I recall correctly) get some volunteers to download and install a toolbar, which might provide a more solid unique indicator, though that raises some questions of its own on how much or not like a random sample.

    REPLY: you are really good at suggesting things that could/should be done by others in your comments. Doing those things yourself, not so much. – Anthony

  32. BobM says:

    Bob says:
    March 15, 2014 at 11:18 am

    “As far as climate science is concerned, after you read WUWT, Climate Audit, Bishop Hill, JoNova, and Climate Etc, you pretty well have the subject of climate science and news covered.”

    + Lucia’s Blackboard.

  33. Speed says:

    Reading further in the Wikipedia article …

    While site-wide bounce rate can be a useful metric for sites with well-defined conversion steps requiring multiple page views, it may be of questionable value for sites where visitors are likely to find what they are looking for on the entry page. This type of behavior is common on web portals and referential content sites.[6] For example, a visitor looking for the definition of a particular word may enter an online dictionary site on that word’s definition page. Similarly, a visitor who wants to read about a specific news story may enter a news site on an article written for that story. These example entry pages could have a bounce rate above 80% (thereby increasing the site-wide average), however they may still be considered successful.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bounce_rate

    As readers here know, it is impossible to define or completely describe a complex system using a single metric such as global mean temperature or bounce rate.

  34. Larry Ledwick says:

    Some folks wanted to see the **daily time spent on each site, so here is an updated table with that added:

    For clarification is TOS in minutes and seconds/eday or hours and minutes/day? I see no notation regarding units expressed.

    I often load the front page or a particularly interesting topic page that I have commented on, and leave it up for hours and periodically come back and do a page reload with no mouse clicks on the page. How does that register as one very long visit or multiple short visits.

    Constantly monitoring a topic page indicates high involvement in the topic even though the user makes no additional clicks on the page. On fast moving topics I might reload the page every couple minutes and the only interaction with the page is using the up down arrows or scroll bar to follow new posts on the topic.

    REPLY: all that stuff is at the Alexa links I provided in the first table. Do I have to do everything? Minutes/seconds/day for you lazy bones. – Anthony

  35. Steve O says:

    “They think it’s just a matter of tweaking the message, rather than the message itself.”

    — I don’t even think it’s the message. It’s everything in how they approach the topic. Those with skeptical views are rudely dismissed as wackjobs or shills, or worse. The common stated objections are not addressed, and people notice that. We’re supposed to accept their statements based on their scientific authority, and not question it. Just open up the checkbook.

    I’ve sat through a lot of Board of Directors meetings and have seen and made many presentations. Anybody who wants to get funded has to present a coherent argument. A blanket, “I’m the expert, so just write the check dummy” is not going to cut it.

  36. P.D. Caldwell says:

    I apologize for adding to your ‘bounce rate’ by visiting WUWT several times a day to look for any new postings.

    REPLY: No apologies needed. – Anthony

  37. Bob Tisdale says:

    And, showing my age, “Kiss of Death” in the title reminded me of Shirley Bassey singing the theme song to “Goldfinger”.

  38. Tucci78 says:

    I have to wonder what the bounce rate is going to be when abjectly leftard Ezra “a href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JournoList”>JournoList” Klein gets his Vox.com site up and running as “a general interest news site for the 21st century. Its mission is simple: Explain the news.”

    From a “Liberal” fascist, perspective, of course. Anybody want to guess what the toxic Voxic slant’s gonna be with regard to the “news” about the anthropogenic climate change fraud?

    http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/031514.jpg

  39. Larry Ledwick says:

    REPLY: all that stuff is at the Alexa links I provided in the first table. Do I have to do everything? Minutes/seconds/day for you lazy bones. – Anthony

    Yes when it comes to good practice for data presentation, you always include explicit statements (ie in your foot note definining TOS) within a chart of units and a key for chart colors used so it stands alone.

  40. Both bounce rate and time on site will be pretty strongly correlated with frequency of new content. For example, if RealClimate only has one post per month folks will visit every few days and quickly “bounce” when there is nothing new.

  41. lsvalgaard says:

    Whether the bounce rate is a good metrics or not, one should not try to ‘game’ the system by designing the web-site to improve the metric. Just provide the good contents and discussion as always.

  42. Martin Clark says:

    What about RSS feeds? When they update, does that get counted as a “bounce” or is the function excluded from the stats?
    I don’t need to check if there is something new on my favourite sites, RSS does it for me.

  43. rogerknights says:

    Jimbo says:
    March 15, 2014 at 11:11 am

    WUWT might be able to reduce its bounce rate if it experimented with placing the Recent Posts above the Blog Stats. Just a thought and you can always revert?

    +1000!!!

  44. Owen in GA says:

    I designed an academic library site with the idea that the landing page would have all the information someone would need to fill their information needs. Almost all of the links were to external data providers, with very few going to policy pages on my own server. My bounce rates in Google Analytics were atrocious, but my total visits went through the roof, so I was quite happy with it. As with anything, the visitor data has to be analyzed with the purpose of the site in mind.

    Commercial sites are very interested in keeping people clicking. It gives more opportunities to provide advertising that might hook a sale.

  45. rtj1211 says:

    One thing I know from my own internet usage is that I go to more than one page within a site I use often, whereas those I’m guided to from Google searches often aren’t what I’m looking for so I go back to the search and try again.

    I suspect that there’s a reasonably good correlation between return visitors and low bounce rates, so you might like to see if you can analyse what percentage of your visitors are return visitors and whether the bounce rate is lowest amongst your most loyal readers. I know that 80% or more of the times I come to the site I either read a story or go to a data page like the sea ice page. I do this at other sites I visit often also.

    The key to getting readers to click thru to a story is a catchy headline and a succinct first paragraph. The headline makes you read the first paragraph and that makes you decide whether to click thru to the main article.

  46. Francois GM says:

    Bob says:
    March 15, 2014 at 11:18 am

    “As far as climate science is concerned, after you read WUWT, Climate Audit, Bishop Hill, JoNova, and Climate Etc, you pretty well have the subject of climate science and news covered.”

    + Lucia’s Blackboard.
    —————————————-
    Agreed. I also enjoy Pierre Gosselin’s NoTricksZone. Pierre writes well and the site is great for news on energy policy especially from Germany. Germany is way “ahead” of other nations in renewables but clearly not an example to follow.

  47. rogerknights says:

    Henry Clark says:
    March 15, 2014 at 11:59 am

    While I couldn’t be more opposed to their goals and claims, frankly the CAGW movement’s skepticalscience.com (dishonest even in its very name) has way more relative influence than relative page rank or page views would superficially indicate. WUWT, daily updated, gets its core audience visiting ~ 100+ times a year. A very large pool of CAGW movement supporters visit skepticalscience.com , used by them in arguments all over the internet and indirectly offline. But most of those just visit when looking up something to copy, a handful of times a year or less amongst those merely once in a while getting in such an argument.

    While a moderate number of skeptics, like myself, have a combo of knowledge and lack of naivety sufficient to handle and defeat the arguments on that site, their smooth dishonest refinement is rather effective against a lot of casuals. On sites and forums not directly related to climate, it is sad how often I’ve seen a skeptic effectively lose an argument due to such as being blindsided by a fudged-data graph from a CAGW movement supporter doing little more than copy pasting. Actually it is unfortunate there is no skeptic equivalent to them in organizational style including topic lists.

    Heartland or the Bros. Koch should fund Lucy in the Sky and other gals of contrarianism in putting together a point/counterpoint rebuttal of SkS’s stuff, and other alarmist claims, in varying levels of detail depending on drill-down. That this desperately needed and obvious step hasn’t been done is one of the main indications that our side isn’t well-organized or well-funded.

  48. NikFromNYC says:

    Left out, the evident No.2 most effective skeptical blog, especially since his material feeds into ClimateDepot.com and then gets major media attention along with Drudge Report and conservative blogs.

    StevenGoddard.wordpress.com
    Bounce rate 52.02%
    Ranking 40,103
    Time on site: 8:03

  49. Bob says:

    Anthony, I don’t know if someone already mentioned it, but blogroll also impacts bounce rate. I go to your site first, generally read the new content, and then use your blogroll throughout my reading session. So, after I visit other sites, I hit my back button to go back to WUWT and then bounce to other sites.

  50. Jim G says:

    “One of the more common woes mentioned by climate activists that suffer from bafflement over the tenacity of climate skepticism goes something like this: “if we could just communicate the urgency of climate change, everything would be better”. They think it’s just a matter of tweaking the message, rather than the message itself.”

    Interesting that there are very similar comments on the left regarding Obamacare. They believe that they are simply not communicating the benefits of the healthcare plan well. The left is all about repeating a message over and over until folks believe it, the truth or content is of no significance in their play book.

  51. kim says:

    Top six for Time On Site are skeptical blogs.
    ===============

  52. R7 Rocket says:

    Wonder why ordinary folks are skeptical of CAGW? Take a look at any of the popular Mythbusters episodes, look at how they take a claim and try to disprove the claim. They have no idea what the results are going to be. Are the alarmists’ claims disprovable? Do the alarmists have a preconceived result or do they wait for the test to be made to see what the results are?

    Moldbug has a detailed description of science vs Science.

    http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.co.uk/2009/01/gentle-introduction-to-unqualified_22.html?m=1

  53. David in Texas says:

    Bounce rate also depends on the format of the site. WUWT has articles, and to read the articles you have to drill down. A site such as ClimateDepot sends you to another site. It’s trying to accomplish a different goal than WUWT, so its effectiveness is not measured by bounce rate. DrudgeReport has the same format, also sending you to a different site. It ranks an impressive 417, but has a poor bounce rate of 67.20%.

    I’ve noticed a recent (annoying) tenacity at ClimateDepot to copy the article that they are touting to their site, perhaps to improve their bounce rate.

  54. u.k.(us) says:

    WUWT is almost always the first tab I have open on my computer.
    When I go elsewhere I use a new tab (so WUWT is still open).
    Does this cheat the “time on site” calculations ?
    It is my plan :)
    Yes, I feel bad about doing it.

  55. Lyle says:

    Just curious but why isn’t Tom Nelson mentioned? I often start there and visit the most interestingly tagged sites, or all of them. Sometimes I bounce to WUWT numerous times daily when new articles are tagged.

    REPLY: Tom has essentially stopped blogging – Anthony

  56. David in Texas says:

    About my previous post concerning ClimateDepot and DrudgeReport, they start java programs running on your browser which auto-refreshes the window, thus increasing their traffic. DrudgeReport is especial annoying about this, so much so that I can’t finish reviewing the featured articles without it refreshing. Hence, I only visit it when I can use a browser that has java disabled or I avoid it altogether. ClimateDepot only refreshes occasionally, and happily WUWT does not do auto-refreshing.

  57. eyesonu says:

    Nice presentation.

    I have a tendency to bounce back here to WUWT.

  58. ntesdorf says:

    This is certainly something worth shouting about Anthony! Alarmist Sites are just boringly stupid.

  59. cynical_scientist says:

    Whenever WUWT links to a graph on the NOAA website doesn’t that boost the bounce rate there? A high bounce rate could also indicate a site with useful resources that other sites link to.

  60. LadyLifeGrows says:

    I am more impressed by the rankings, indicating that people give more credibility to skeptic sites than alarmist ones. Then again, the poster (Watts himself) is a well-known skeptic–maybe it is just his bias.
    I think the phenomena he is happy about here are real. I also think this is the world’s best climate website, with the world’s best commenters. It is one of the world’s best science websites.
    The most important thing, though, is changing the mind of the public, especially today’s young people, who are doing economy- and biosphere-damaging things because they believe the alarmists.
    The alarmists are studying how to effectively communicate their message (a bit tough with the facts against them). We should also study what communicates to undecided and alarmist people.
    One thing that seems to help is following the money: the 1000 to one funding ratio because alarmists get their money from the government, which is biased because it hopes for a new tax. The “well-funded” Koch brothers stuff is a standing joke here. (I haven’t gotten mine, either).
    There is a general public confusion between CO, carbon monoxide, highly poisonous in tiny doses because it has 1000 times the affinity for hemoglobin that oxygen has, and carbon dioxide, CO2, which is vital to life including animals and human beings.
    And we need to promote the biological side of it more. That, after all, is the point of the whole fuss, and the facts there are even more strongly on our side that the temperature facts.

  61. jjs says:

    Not sure how much alarmist can gain anymore in blogging, it’s all the same old same old to me whenever I visit their sites. To me they are not very intellectual stimulating especially when you can see through the propaganda….it’s like listening to NPR or the BBC which I gave up on years ago. “I don’t need to be told what to think, give me the info and I will do the thinking….thank you very much”

    It’s interesting to see how many people interact with web pages like I do. I bounce in and out of WUWT and GWPF many times a day to check what’s new. It’s kind of like brain candy I guess….

  62. DirkH says:

    Tucci78 says:
    March 15, 2014 at 12:50 pm
    “I have to wonder what the bounce rate is going to be when abjectly leftard Ezra “a href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JournoList”>JournoList” Klein gets his Vox.com site up and running as “a general interest news site for the 21st century. Its mission is simple: Explain the news.” ”

    WOW! Bolshe-wikipedia has an article on JournoList! Somebody call Jimbo; quality control failed!

  63. Owen in GA says:

    I always have WUWT open in a tab here at home, and usually in a tab at work as well. While waiting on a program to compile I’ll look to see “watts up” in the world.

  64. dp says:

    I wonder if Willis’ blog brawls with the readership offer a train wreck-like experience that people want to keep coming back to. Nobody doesn’t like a on-line train wreck.

    But to really understand this stuff you have to look at the article churn. WUWT generally has several very topical posts per day and we regulars come to expect that, I think, based on commenter’s names showing up across articles. Moreover, many in the readership on blogs generally are also in the frequent and/or long-winded commenter realm and this, I think, works against Dr. Curry’s site where tit-for-tat bickering goes on for many hundreds of posts per article (tolerant moderators). That works to drive people away who don’t wish to follow the conversation, and discourages people from lingering. Axe me how I know. Add to that the relatively high technical content and up goes the bounce. Who has time to wade through all that crap?

    The snark level of the authors here is quite high and the topics tend more toward red meat than other blogs (political vs science). That plus churn is a good mix if you’re going after web metrics. Doesn’t mean jack as to the value of the site regarding science, but it is something you can show the advertisers. That’s why Google makes the info available. That is not to say this is a science-free zone, there’s great science here, but we don’t see Lord Monckton, who delivers a salacious mix of science and politics, on many blogs. And BTW, where in the world is Topher?

  65. Lance Wallace says:

    Added a few to Anthony’s list. Lubos Motl’s blog is of interest, particularly for highlighting the Czechoslovakian former President Vaclav Kraus, one of the very few if not only European leaders with the education to know what he is talking about and the guts to call a spade a spade when it comes to climate change. (Also, one can get a guilty pleasure out of Motl’s own over-the-top nastiness.)

    Site Proprietor Type Bounce Rate Rank* (lower is better)
    desmogblog.com alarmist 78.6% 143,862
    nofrakkingconsensus.com La Framboise skeptic 58.8% 266,413
    motls.blogspot.com Motl skeptic 40.7% 420,480
    hockeyschtick.blogspot.com Bolt? skeptic 54.1% 561,358
    thepointman.wordpress.com skeptic 59.3% 627,382
    watchingthedeniers.wordpress.com alarmist not reported 3,218,348
    StevenGoddard.wordpress.com Goddard skeptic 52.0% 40,103

  66. Gary Pate says:

    It’s a testament to the great product you present to your audience. You, your helpers & your contributors make WUWT at site you want explore & learn from.

    Once again, THANK YOU to Anthony and everyone else that makes this site what it is.

  67. Jeff Alberts says:

    Well, I get WUWT links in my RSS reader, and that’s where I click from. I usually don’t “interact” with the page, apart from scrolling, unless I leave a comment. But I click all the links to WUWT. So, I contribute to the bounce rate, but not because I find the site boring or uninformative, it’s just the way I get here. I click, which opens WUWT in a new tab, read, then close the tab, then click on the next story in my reader.

  68. Brian H says:

    I did my own summary, and found 8 sceptic listings, with an average site time of 240.5 seconds (4 minutes). There are 12 alarmist sites, with an average site time of 138.17 seconds (2 minutes 18 sec.).

  69. ossqss says:

    Speaks volumes.

    It works!

  70. PiperPaul says:

    Don’t forget that since browser tabs were invented, many people stay logged-in all the time (unless they are Windows users, because that OS requires a restart every 11.34 hours). One thing I like about WattsUpWithThat is no auto-refresh. Some sites set this to as low as 30 minutes, which artificially ups the page count (although bots can figure out the pattern).

  71. sinewave says:

    Ok, this article led me to glance at climaterealityproject.org which links to realitydrop.org which is supposed to encourage people to rebut skeptical articles. It uses a “myth-what deniers say-what the science says” template (example http://realitydrop.org/#articles/111694). Skepticalscience.com uses the same template (example http://skepticalscience.com/climate-change-little-ice-age-medieval-warm-period.htm). A few years back I remember an article on nbc news that specifically pointed readers to Skepticalscience.com if they wanted to debate “deniers”. The alarmist side is much more pervasive, well-funded and politically-connected than the skeptic side, despite all the accusations of big oil funding for us skeptics….

  72. Lubos Motl says:

    Anthony, you have 40.90%. My website – skeptic – is reported as 40.70%. I won! ;-)
    http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/motls.blogspot.com

  73. PiperPaul says:

    “The key to getting readers to click thru to a story is a catchy headline and a succinct first paragraph.
    The warm-mongers use this tactic all the time. Most people are too busy to read the whole article (witness TL;DR) so leave with the impression that the headline gives. Couple this with the “truth-putting-on-shoes” reality, there’s no wonder why propaganda methods are so effective.

  74. Anthony, Alexa rankings and data aren’t reliable. You shouldn’t use that to draw any conclusions about who is doing better.

    Take for example HotWhopper and my website Real Sceptic. A while back I noticed that I outranked HotWhopper with a score of 858,248 vs HotWhopper’s ranking of 897,008.

    Yet when you looked at direct measurements it became obvious that HotWhopper had fourteen times the number of pageviews and nine times the number of visitors that my website received. Though Alexa showed HotWhopper having a lower ranking than me and showing a drop in ranking while direct measurements were showing an increase in traffic/views.

    You can find all the details here:
    http://www.realsceptic.com/2014/02/01/shouldnt-use-alexa/

    HotWhopper at the moment outranks me again, but that’s due to Sou and I doing some Alexa ranking manipulation (it’s part of an experiment I’m running for a final Alexa article). It’s remarkably easy to influence the Alexa ranking of a website you own.

    Please stop using Alexa to make definite claims about who is doing better. That’s simply not possible with Alexa data/statistics. They are just too unreliable.

  75. Tommy E says:

    Same same, only different …

    P.D. Caldwell says:
    March 15, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    I apologize for adding to your ‘bounce rate’ by visiting WUWT several times a day to look for any new postings.

    REPLY: No apologies needed. – Anthony

    Sorry Anthony, but I too have been contributing to your bounce rate by having the default home page on all of my web browsers on all of my computers set to http://wattsupwiththat.com/

    On the up side, my thirteen year old is slowly deprogramming his public school classmates based on what he sees whenever he opens his web browser vs what they hear everywhere else.

  76. C.M. Carmichael says:

    I read just about everything including discuusions on the site, but I also ” bounce” several times a day checking for news. So in effect I raise “time on site” as well as raising the “bounce” rate. Is there a metric for site visits per day for individuals?

  77. kim says:

    Heh, Brian H, I like that 100 second lag, it measures the time it takes the clutch to engage the brain.
    ===============

  78. kim says:

    I don’t know if all that smoke is burning clutch or burning rubber.
    ===========

  79. Kip Hansen says:

    Anthony, forecastthefacts.org achieves its remarkable low bounce rate by having a content free index / home page. It is nothing but a “navigation page” with links to other pages : the reader has no coice but to bail out [75% do just that ] or click on some link. As a retire web designer, I consider this poor design. It gives the customer nothing for his original investment.

  80. Chuck Nolan says:

    REPLY: all that stuff is at the Alexa links I provided in the first table. Do I have to do everything? Minutes/seconds/day for you lazy bones. – Anthony
    ———————————————————–
    In your chart Rate has * and TOS has **.
    Yes, they require explanation.
    cn

  81. Jeff Alberts says:

    PiperPaul says:
    March 15, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    Don’t forget that since browser tabs were invented, many people stay logged-in all the time (unless they are Windows users, because that OS requires a restart every 11.34 hours).

    No, it doesn’t. I assume you forgot your sarc tag.

  82. Jay says:

    Take your time and poke around.. Who knows you might learn something ;P

  83. _Jim says:

    UPDATE: Some folks wanted to see the …

    HOW ABOUT a ‘normalized’ bounce percentage – derived by lopping off 40% from *all* figures, as it appears the lowest ‘bounce’ rate is around 40% (part of that being first page level only search bots?) … would that be useful that as a baseline (asked as a question)?

    .

  84. _Jim says:

    re: PiperPaul says March 15, 2014 at 10:03 pm
    Don’t forget that since browser tabs were invented, many people stay logged-in all the time (unless they are Windows users, because that OS requires a restart every 11.34 hours).

    Suggest user above may be heavily virus infested (and not know it? Maybe a boot sector infection not cured by ‘usual’ virus scanners/eradicators); no such restart needed here and I have gone for weeks this winter before closing even the Google ‘browser’ window (using the PC for ‘heat’ ya see) …

    .

  85. Gunga Din says:

    lsvalgaard says:
    March 15, 2014 at 10:30 am

    What is a ‘Bounce Rate’?

    ==============================================================
    As I understand it, and I’d definitely welcome correction if I’m wrong, if you opened WUWT but then went to a different site without clicking on a post, that would count as a “bounce”.
    (I don’t know if clicking on another site from a link on WUWT would count as a bounce or not.)

  86. Mike Lorrey says:

    Looks like we are continuing to post devastatingly strong site performance stats since I started writing about them. Great work Anthony.

  87. mikelorrey says:

    Happy to see that our devastatingly strong site performance stats continue to leave the alarmists in the dust, since I first started reporting on them.

  88. philjourdan says:

    @Tommy E – Great idea! Deprogramming kids is a great cause!

  89. Hi Guys, I run a Google Partner Search Marketing Company, so I do this for a living. I also help out the Galileo Movement here in Oz. In my humble opinion Anthony is correct in the way in which he has presented this information. Bounce rates are aggregates across all landing pages of a site. Sites like Skeptical Science and WUWT have large numbers of pages indexed so bounce rate across that many different landing pages would be a very significant proxy for page quality.

    That fits into a wider signal – Google knows what your site is about, it knows how many words you have on a page and also this data for similar sites. So time on site works with bounce rate and page size as compared to the industry average to show how engaging your site is.

    It may be a stretch to work that backwards, assume all sites in the sample have equal page and site quality and therefore the difference is in VISITOR quality but that is fun to speculate.

    It is significant though that the global cooling deniers spend less time on their sites than us visionary questioners of scientific consensus spend on ours. I guess sceptics are just that – sceptical. We ask more questions and think about what we are being told. Alarmists don’t need long to look at a graph or headline that has been set free from the constraints of scientific integrity, feel reassured that their religion is triumphant, say a few hail al’s and leave.

    Now I should also put my Google hat on for a moment. Everything works together in your site quality score which bounce tends to be a product of – navigation, page load speed, cross-device compatibility, placement of content, grammar etc. So it is a little awkward to pull one factor out and focus too much on it. That is like a Scientist pulling out Carbon Dioxide from the suite of atmospheric gasses and blaming something like – oh I don’t know – increasing global temperatures – on that one gas. :)

    One last point on bots – these have a signature that identify them to metrics sites as bots, which are then ignored in the stats, or should be. If not it would still be a similar percentage between similar sites in a similar industry.

    But I do agree with Anthony, its nicer on this side of that metric!

    Cheers
    Richard

  90. hoc lanh dao says:

    Having read this I believed it was really informative.

    I appreciate you spending some time and energy to put this short article together.
    I once again find myself spending a lot of time both reading and commenting.
    But so what, it was still worth it!

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