How Bounce Rate Impacts Your SEO

Written By Dale Hammington

There are a number of components that can impact how your website ranks on Google. While scrolling through Google Analytics, it can feel like you’re immersed in an information overload. Bounce rate is just one of the numbers given regarding your website and is perhaps the most undervalued.

Bounce rate, in conjunction with the other components of your website, has a significant impact on your SEO. Here’s everything you need to know about your bounce rate, how to understand it, and how to apply this knowledge to boost your Google ranking. What is Bounce Rate?

Simply put, your bounce rate measures traffic as it exits your website after viewing only one page. For example, you’re searching for a recipe for chocolate chip cookies. You click the top article and find that the recipe has negative reviews. Upon seeing this, you click back to the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) and click on the next website listed. Thus, you have effectively raised the original page’s bounce rate.

According to the Google bots, the longer someone is on your page, the more relevance your information must have to the keyword used during the search process. The timing threshold of the bounce rate equation is currently unknown. It’s all too possible that you’d read the entire recipe, find the information useful, and click the back button after ten minutes to return to the search engine, rather than typing in the URL. While it’s well-known that time spent on a page helps improve SEO, the turning point between bounce rate and relevance is a mystery.

Analyzing and Auditing Your Bounce Rate

As with anything on Google analytics, you can look at your bounce rate for the overall website or for a specific page or section. To truly be able to comprehend and improve your website’s bounce rate, forget about the overall site number. The bounce rate for your website as a whole is an arbitrary number that will have you stressing over pages of low importance. Instead, you’ll want to track the bounce rate on pages that could convert your viewers into customers.

Auditing specific pages will help improve the overall bounce rate of your website by helping you identify what issues might be causing people to leave your site quickly. Usually, a high bounce rate is tied into the overall user experience. Does your site take too long to load? Is it mobile optimized? Are you so focused on appealing to one market with your brand strategy that you’re turning away another potential demographic?

Start by looking at your landing pages in Google Analytics, which can be found under “Behavior” in the sidebar menu on the left. This will show you the point of entry for your website, or the page most people get to first. It will also show you the bounce rate for these pages. If you notice one or two landing pages that have a significantly higher bounce rate than the rest, you know where to start looking for problems with the user experience.

Optimizing to Change Your Bounce Rate

After you’ve determined the source of your poor bounce rate, there are many things you can do to change it for the better. Remember, when it comes to your site’s bounce rate, achieving a lower percentage is an improvement. Here are some best practices for improving your bounce rate:

Open in New Window

Take advantage of the feature that allows users to open links in a new tab or window. That way, when they’re signing up for your email list or reading a related blog post, they aren’t getting sucked into the vortex of content and can easily find their way back out.

Reduce Noise

Nothing drives people away from your site quicker than annoying pop-ups. While the all-encompassing email subscription pop-up that dominates the page can be effective for getting conversions, it also encourages most people to click the back button to escape. This is especially true when using a pop-up system that isn’t optimized for mobile, as clicking back to the SERP is usually the only way to close the screen.

Use Your Keywords

Don’t optimize your content to keywords that are loosely related to your business just because they have more traffic. Instead, optimize your site to keywords that are entirely related to your business.

For example, if you know the search term “cheapest haircuts Texas” is often used, and you have a high-end salon, people who click on your site because you’ve optimized using that search term are going to backpedal immediately once they see your prices. Look for quality and relevance over quantity and traffic when optimizing.

Improve Site Speed

We live in a society that is driven by instant gratification. The days of waiting for the internet to load while a modem screeches and squeaks are ancient history. If your site has a design flaw that causes it to load slowly (i.e., in more than ten seconds), you risk having a substantial bounce rate and miss out on potential conversions.

Site speed information can be found under the “Behavior” category in Google Analytics. Not only does site speed directly impact your rankings through the Google algorithm, your bounce rate increases exponentially as your site loading time increases.

Alter Your Bounce Rate Metrics

Fortunately, you have control over what Google perceives as an interaction on your website. From Google Tag Manager, you can indicate what constitutes an event and have that directly impact your SEO and bounce rate.

For example, playing a video on your website may count as an interaction, even if someone clicks back to the SERP immediately following. You can set rules about how far someone scrolls down a page or how long they spend browsing on the landing page. By taking control of these metrics, you can drive down your bounce rate and improve your SEO.

By understanding your bounce rate and using these suggestions to analyze the numbers and take control, you will be able to improve your SEO and drive business to your website with a few simple alterations.

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