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Bounce Rate: 6 Questions All SEOs Need to be Able to Answer

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“Bounce rate” is a term you’ve likely heard if you run a website. If you’re an SEO, you’re always looking for ways to decrease it. But what is bounce rate, how does it affect your site’s rankings, and how can you use this metric to improve your visibility online?

According to Wikipedia, “bounce rate represents the percentage of initial visitors to a site who “bounce” away to a different site, rather than continue on to other pages within the same site.”

In simple terms, a bounce occurs when someone visits your website, then leaves without visiting any additional pages. For example, if you found this blog post by searching for “what is bounce rate?” in Google, and you don’t visit any of the other pages on this website before “clicking out” (ie, leaving this website), then you’d be considered a bounce, and you’d increase this website’s bounce rate.

From an Internet marketing perspective, bounce rate is a metric that determines how effective a page’s content is in making visitors explore the site more.

Is it good to have a low bounce rate?

Having a low bounce rate is generally considered good, because it means visitors spend more time on your website and consume more content, which usually means your content is interesting or compelling, and often leads to a higher conversion rate.

Is it bad to have a high bounce rate?

Having a high bounce rate is really neither good nor bad. In some cases, it could mean that a visitor found your website, didn’t find what they were looking for, and immediately left. In others, it could mean that your site provided a clear and concise answer or the information the user was looking for, and there was no longer any need to remain on your website (in which case, you did a good job of providing information to the user, and your high bounce rate does not reflect anything negative).

Does bounce rate affect search engine rankings?

Through the years, bounce rate has been labeled by many as a metric used in Google’s search engine ranking algorithm. However, for the last 2 years, Google has flat-out denied that bounce rate has any weight in the ranking algorithm. Here’s Matt Cutts answering the question:

“Google Analytics is not used in search quality in any way for our rankings.”

More recently, at the 2012 SMX Advanced conference in Seattle, Matt Cutts was specifically asked by Danny Sullivan whether bounce rate is considered in the ranking algorithm.

Cutts said:

“We do not use Google Analytics in their rankings. Bounce rate from the search results is noisy; there are redirects, spam, etc.”

How do I figure out my website’s bounce rate?

If you have Google Analytics installed on your site, you can easily determine your website’s bounce rate. There are other analytics tools for determining on-site analytics as well, but Google Analytics is a free solution which is a good starting point if you aren’t currently tracking any analytics data.

How can I lower my website’s bounce rate?

1. Optimize site layout and design

The layout and the design of your website have a tremendous influence on the site’s bounce rate. A cluttered and difficult to navigate site could negatively affect bounce rate.

That doesn’t mean you have to be minimalistic with your design, though. A well-organized, fluid and intuitive navigation positively affects bounce rate.

Provide opportunity for your visitors to explore the site more. Make it easy for them to find the Contact Us page, your blog, and related content. If your website is hosted on WordPress, there are great plugins that will help you serve up related posts for your blog readers. Just do a search (either in Google or within your WordPress backend, in the “Plugins” section) for “related posts wordpress plugin” and you’ll find myriad plugins that will automatically serve up related content for your visitors, helping to lower your bounce rate.

If you’re not a web designer, consult with one. You might also want to observe other sites that you frequently visit. Check out how they manage links and how user-friendly (or unfriendly) their site’s navigation is.

2. Properly optimize the pages

Keep in mind that a good number of visitors might have ended up on your site via search. Check with your analytics tool which keywords visitors used to find your site, and optimize your content for the keywords that have brought the most traffic to your site. You can do this by adding those terms to your onsite copy, as well as writing new content about those terms and linking to them from your existing content.

Always optimize your content with keywords according to the guidelines set by the search engines.

3. Provide value

Once you’ve determined which keywords you should optimize your site for, provide value by creating content that is highly relevant to those keywords.

This encourages your visitors to stay longer as they explore your site for other related information that they may also be looking for.

Provide even more value by following up certain topics on a regular basis or running a series of tutorials that your audience might be very interested in. This gives visitors more reason to come back to your website. Don’t be overly promotional, though.

Only promote content that you think will enhance their understanding of the subject matter or will increase their pleasures and decrease their pains.

Conclusion

If you have any further questions on bounce rate, or for more information on setting up Google Analytics and properly optimizing your site, contact us or call 1.877.545.GROW. We’re happy to help!

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Jayson DeMers

Jayson DeMers is the Founder & CEO of AudienceBloom. You can contact him on LinkedIn, Google+, or Twitter.

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  • http://www.web1marketing.com Josh @ Web 1 Marketing

    Good summary. It’s worth adding that bounce rate can vary significantly by traffic source, and that it’s often much more meaningful to look at the bounce rate on a per-source basis rather than lumping in good and bad sources into an aggregate bounce rate. This is particularly true for advertising where one page’s message may be great for one traffic source or ad creative, but not for another. A disparity between groups of users highlights a need to use different landing pages for each of those groups, tailored to each group’s specific needs.

  • http://www.niyati.com Ramesh Nair

    Did I miss the 6th question?

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