Script that “Fixes” Google Analytics Bounce Rate and Time on Site is a Bad Idea
I recently was alerted to a script that purports to “fix” Google Analytics bounce rate and time on site calculations. The “fixed” (lower) bounce rate is claimed to result in significant increases in Google rankings.
Here is the script:
As Stephen Watts explains: “Once this code is installed, your site will update Google Analytics every 10 seconds under the Event Category “Time”, the Event Action “Log”, and the Event Value will be based on the pattern of 0:10, 0:20, 0:30, 0:40, 0:50, 1:00, 1:10, etc.”
This is not a bounce rate fix – it will artificially lower the bounce rate, because only users who leave in less than 10 seconds would be considered bounces. Basically, it manipulates the data to make bounce rates look better.
I know some people say their rankings went up after implementing this script, but I would tend to assume it was a coincidence. Even if it wasn’t a coincidence, it would be a loophole or maybe even black-hat, since the script is manipulating data to make GA report a falsely low bounce rate.
Users of this script say Google Analytics is inaccurate because it reports a visitor who reads a single page for 5 minutes then leaves as a bounce. That IS a bounce, though. The definition of a bounce is a visitor who leaves a site without viewing more than one page. This script seeks to redefine a bounce to mean “a user who views your website for less than 10 seconds”.
Now, this script might have some use from a time on site standpoint, but there is another way to get time on site without counting bounces – just use an advanced segment to view time on site for only non-bounce visits.
Edit: It sounds to me like the script was created with noble intent (tracking time on site for single page visits), but is now being used in a less noble way to artificially manipulate bounce rate reporting to the webmaster’s advantage.