Confirmed: Bounce Rate is A Search Engine Ranking Factor

SEO continues to evolve. Need more evidence that Google uses bounce rate to test their SERPs?

Here’s are screenshots from one of my sites (it’s a “white hat” site or I wouldn’t be posting the footprint here). The first shows overall traffic:


the 2nd shows Google traffic:

and the 3rd shows Bounce rates:

Google Bounce Rates

This is exactly the pattern you would expect from a program designed to flush out terms with higher bounce rates and test them across other sties. Moreover, this isn’t the first time I’ve recognized this pattern, it happens every 2-3 months on average.

Unsurprisingly, the word “bounce” does not even appear once in Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide. Too bad I didn’t print it our first, because then I could at least use it to wipe my ass.

However, Google does give some clues in their analytics support page, Google notes:

Bounce Rate: Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits (i.e. visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page. Bounce rate is a measure of visit quality and a high bounce rate generally indicates that site entrance (landing) pages aren’t relevant to your visitors. You can minimize Bounce Rates by tailoring landing pages to each keyword and ad that you run. Landing pages should provide the information and services that were promised in the ad copy.

In this instance, you can substitute “ad copy” with “SERP preview” for organic results. So for the site in the above example, I just have to taylor each result for the 193,018 keywords and phrases that were used in the past month, hope that some of them repeat themselves, and anticipate every permutation that Google’s gonna throw at me next month.

Easy enough.

This week I’ll cover how to lower your bounce rate in more detail . . . that is if anyone is actually interested. Are you?

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32 Responses to “Confirmed: Bounce Rate is A Search Engine Ranking Factor”

  1. silvalex says:

    Good info to keep an eye on and it makes sense. Definitely interested in tips to reduce bounce rates, it’s a topic that doesn’t seem to be widely covered. You know, I think Cutts would consider using the SEO guide as toilet paper to be an FTC violation. Ha

  2. reteep says:

    Like disabling the Browser’s Back-Button? :o ) – I used that technique regulary on landingpages, until Adwords found out.

    Btw. any specific reason why you stick to [an older wordpress version]?

  3. QuadsZilla says:

    It’s stable, doesn’t have holes, and isn’t being attacked anymore. If you go with the latest version, i feel like i’m 1 0-day exploit away from being hacked.

  4. JeremyL says:

    I’m confused. According to that graph, the lower your bounce rate, the lower the traffic. Am I reading it wrong?

    Also I am coming to a different conclusion. This tells me the lower your ranking, the less fluff traffic you get and the more they browse. When you are #1, you will get a bunch of clicks where people didn’t know exactly what they wanted. They may click the top 3 before they try a different search.

  5. [...] SEO Blackhat says that they’ve Confirmed that Bounce Rate is A Search Engine Ranking Factor. Well, from their graphs, I see that their overall traffic, Google traffic and bounce rate all declined at the same time. But if I remember my Google Analytics correctly, bounce rate going down actually means that fewer people are leaving your site after viewing just one page, so your site is stickier. So Google rewards sites that people leave quickly with higher rankings and thus more traffic? I’m not convinced. Correlation still isn’t causation—couldn’t it be that Google traffic dropped off (for whatever reason) and then a higher proportion of visitors are the loyal visitors who weren’t bouncing anyway? [...]

  6. reteep says:

    Good point.

    Back to the topic: For sure I’m interested – but it would be also interesting to know how long you are discussing that topic in the forum already. I’m doing too much alone atm., maybe it’s about time to contribute and thus save time for things which might have been build already.

  7. [...] Clearing up the air a little on bounce rate, Google and SEO. « Confirmed: Bounce Rate is A Search Engine Ranking Factor [...]

  8. anty says:

    That the bounce rate affects your SE ranking isn’t new. Here’s another article that writes about an experiment coming to the same conclusion you do: http://www.1stsearchenginerankings.com/2007/06/08/google-bounce-factor-research-data-is-in/

  9. There was this one time, at band camp…
    Someone used ip proxy software & a macro recorder to randomise a lil, but basically bring bounce rate down on certain keywords. There was an increase in rankings for selected keywords for a short time (this was tested back in July/Aug), but then it died off.

    Also, this was tried on competition and decrease was also noticed.

    Wasn’t exactly the best, nor the most clinically clean of tests, but there seemed to of been a connection.

  10. [...] Me ha parecido muy interesante este artículo que corrobora un elemento que desde hace ya un año tenía bastante presente a la hora de realizar posicionamiento en buscadores. [...]

  11. AJ says:

    QuadsZilla,

    I agree that Google is using some sort of metric but I’m not sure it’s bounce rate. We know Google tracks all user clicks using the onmousedown rewrite, so they can capture queries and click behavior to and from the SERP in granular detail.

    So it may not be the technical definition of bounce rate (though it’s a good proxy) but instead just that they went to the site and returned to the SERP in a short time frame and either conducted a new search or clicked on a different result.

    My question really is, do you think Google is reading bounce rate from GAnalytics data or doing the type of pogosticking calculation I describe?

  12. [...] This is a blog in response to SEO Black Hat’s blog this past week on Bounce Rate being a factor by which Google rankings website in their search results. SEO Black Hat suggested that bounce rates are something that Google looks at in determining your ranking for search terms. I totally disagree with this statement. [...]

  13. QuadsZilla says:

    AJ: No reason to think it’s from analytics when they have so many other ways to track that type of information.

  14. rajeev.nair says:

    I don’t think that everything is that easy. As soon as they exist such valuable resources as dictionary.reference.com (which must have a huge bounce rate as visitors come and find the answer instantly), there is no definite answer as to if bounce rate is the website quality evaluator.

  15. [...] Estes dias eu estava lendo os meus feeds quando encontrei um post muito interessante escrito pelo QuadsZilla, onde ele confirma que o Bouce Rate é um fator de rankeamento do Google. [...]

  16. LebossTom says:

    sorry for being rude…
    but your analysis sucks a lot…

    traffic wen down cause google traffic went down.

    bounce rate went down cause users from google have an higher bounce rate then others visitors…

    LebossTom

  17. QuadsZilla says:

    yea – except they don’t. See the next post where all I show is google traffic.

  18. klaus says:

    I agree. I wrote about that last month in here:
    http://www.blackhatdomainer.com/real-black-hat-seo/

  19. [...] Durch einen neuen Artikel bei seoblackhat.com ist sie wieder im Gespräch: Die Absprungrate (bounce rate) als Qualitätskriterium für eine Webseite. Google selbst legt eine solche Vermutung nahe, so findet man in den Google Analytics FAQ folgende Definition für die Absprungrate: Die Absprungrate ist der prozentuale Anteil von Zugriffen auf nur eine Seite oder von Zugriffen, bei denen die Besucher Ihre Website bereits auf der Einstiegsseite (Zielseite) wieder verlassen haben. Verwenden Sie diesen Messwert als Maßstab für die Besuchsqualität. [...]

  20. EggManJohn says:

    Sorry but I completely agree with LebossTom, the line you drew between those two makes absolutely no sense. With traffic drop-off there’s always a bounce rate drop-off, it’s almost down to the law of averages. As traffic goes up, quality of traffic goes down, and visa-versa.

    I think it’s pretty ambiguous to post ‘Confirmed’ in the title when it absolutely isn’t… but that’s how you get your traffic I suppose.

  21. [...] Nachdem bereits Jojo darüber berichtet hatte, dessen Blog ich sehr schätze, berichtet nun auch der für mich wichtigste Kollege überhaupt, mediadonis, live in der seofm Show darüber: Quadzilla hat bewiesen, dass die Bounce Rate ein Ranking Faktor ist. [...]

  22. [...] Hace ya mucho tiempo que se habla de este factor. La verdad es que todos sospechavamos esto… pero recientemente SEO BlackHat ha realizado una série de tests que demuestran en parte esta afirmación. [...]

  23. [...] Quadszilla beweist empirisch, dass die Bounce Rate ein Ranking Factor ist – nette Daten [...]

  24. [...] QuadsZilla stellte kürzlich die These auf, dass die Absprungrate bei Google Analytics ein Rankingfaktor für Google darstellt. Eigentlich fand ich es nicht notwendig, das zu kommentieren, da es eigentlich jedem auffallen sollte, dass die Interpretation der Daten nicht richtig ist (ich habe mich kurz gefragt, ob Quad uns damit absichtlich auf Glatteis führen will). Da das Gerücht inzwischen allerdings immer weitere Kreise zieht, unter anderem bei Internetmarketing-News und seoFM (hat nur der David nachgedacht statt abzuschreiben?), will ich hier doch etwas dazu sagen. [...]

  25. [...] After my last 2 posts on bounce rate, Many more questions have been popping up about the bounce effect. [...]

  26. [...] Se acabó el spam en los resultados de búsqueda los clientes vuelven a tener el poder… y ahora con el searchwiki de google la búsqueda ya no solo se personaliza de acuerdo a las veces que han visitado un sitio (si están navegando con un cuenta google abierta) sino que tienen la opción de hacernos subir, bajar o comentar negativamente sobre los resultados de la búsqueda, es decir, Google dota de una herramienta de inteligencia colectiva a su buscador, más allá de los paramétros que ellos iban progresivamente estableciendo. [...]

  27. [...] Yes. At least Top SEO’s must now take bounce rate into account when designing and refining a site, SEO Blackhat writes. [...]

  28. [...] I tied form usability back to SEO with search engines starting to incorporate user behavior data, like bounce rate, into their algorithms. I won’t talk about that further but I did post “The Future of SEO” mentioning it quite a bit as well as Eric Enge’s post on Search Engine Land and SEO Blackhat’s case study post. [...]

  29. [...] Bounce Rate A lot of recent speculation (supported by data) has surrounded the idea that bounce rates are ranking factors in Google results, or at least they are being tested by Google and could make a significant impact on the ranking factors for SERPs. There are also those who have tried to justify the bounces as SCASI (SERP Click After Site Inspection). [...]

  30. [...] 7. You can’t buy links anymore The communists have won the war. We have declared defeat. Of course if you listen to SEO’s and search engineers for too long, you will think that there are NO links that pass value. Well, at least we can pay to create viral content, and pay for optimization in the distribution channel, and HOPE that people link to us. The content kings have one, and it’s time to get writing. You might as well start talking to your customers and actually giving them what they want. Since bounce rate is now a significant factor for search results, it’s gonna hurt you to dupe your users with crap content anyhow. [...]

  31. [...] Quadzilla: “Confirmed: Bounce Rate is A Search Engine Ranking Factor” [...]