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The SEO Impact of Bounce Rate (What You Need to Know)

Illustration depicting the SEO impact of bounce rate with relevant icons and graphs

The impact of Google Analytics’ bounce rate on a site’s position in search results has been hotly contested among SEO professionals for years.

Nevertheless, there are still many misunderstandings about it. This has led to a rise in the number of websites focusing on reducing their bounce rates in the hopes of increasing their search engine ranks, despite the fact that this isn’t always the case.

This is nicely demonstrated by a recorded discussion between Rand Fishkin (Moz’s founder) and Andrey Lipattsev (Google’s senior strategist for search quality). Over the course of a few days, Rand conducted an experiment in which he purposefully increased the bounce rate of several pages, and the findings were equivocal. Half of the positions on the SERP changed, while the other half did not change, with an almost perfect split.

Bounce rates (and other Google Analytics indicators) are not included in Google’s ranking algorithms, according to former director of Webspam Matt Cutts.

The explanation appears obvious: bounce rates have no bearing on search engine rankings. But if that were the case, it would be hard to account for Backlinko’s finding that pages with lower bounce rates tend to rank higher. To get to the answer to the question, you need knowledge of three things:

  • What does bounce rate measure?

  • In what way wouldn’t bounce rate be a useful measure for Google?

  • Is there a correlation between other SEO metrics and bounce rate?

The definition of “bounce rate”

The SEO Impact of Bounce Rate

The term “bounce rate” refers to the proportion of visitors that leave your website without interacting with it again. That’s the amount of people that land on your page, but don’t stick around to check out any of your other content (more on this in a previous chapter) or take any action at all.

This metric is used by marketers to ascertain if the content of the page satisfied their needs.

The time a visitor spends on your site is not reflected in the bounce rate. This differentiation is the root of much of the misunderstanding. In contrast to popular belief, a high bounce rate is not indicative of a poorly designed page.

There are two repercussions to this:

  • To begin, a high bounce rate is not always a bad thing.

  • Bounce rate might be due to irrelevant keywords, irrelevant content, or irrelevant page purpose. Ineffective content and/or poor accessibility are other possible explanations.

  • For instance, it’s to be expected that a landing page or product launch page will have a high bounce rate (particularly given the rise of single-page websites). For informational sites where visitors get what they need and go on, a high bounce rate may be desired. Wikipedia is a great illustration of this concept.

  • If you leave a page after reading it, it might be because the information was all you needed.

  • Bounce rate optimization is not a foolproof method of boosting your website’s quality or making it more beneficial to users.

  • Second, focusing too much on the number of visitors that immediately leave your site might be counterproductive.

  • To artificially lower your site’s bounce rate, imagine splitting each page into two and tying them together. You have enhanced a key performance indicator from an analytics standpoint. User experience-wise, you’ve made a mess out of what was formerly a straightforward and reliable website. Instead than focusing on the bounce rate, you should develop a purposeful sitemap and user funnel.

Why doesn’t Google use bounce rate as a metric?

Considering what bounce rate actually measures, it’s not hard to see why Google doesn’t employ the bounce rate displayed in Google Analytics as a ranking component in search engine results pages. There are primarily four causes for this.

1. A high bounce rate is not indicative of high quality.

Industry bounce rate


Time spent on page is an important indicator of user engagement that bounce rate fails to capture. Bounce rates also differ significantly between sectors. Clicktale reports that blogs typically have a 70-90% bounce rate, content sites a 40-60% rate, and service sites a 10-30% rate.

It would be counterproductive for Google to penalize sites based on their bounce rate in Google Analytics if the page’s intended function was not to direct the user to other parts of the site.

They attribute their high bounce rate to the fact that many of their photographs show up in Google image search. When individuals use the site’s image search to find and click on a picture, the image is displayed; this results in a hit for the site and a bounce when the viewer clicks away from the image.

If the same keywords are used for the website and the image, it will be hard to tell them apart.

2. Google has no interest in seeing Analytics data.

Google isn’t likely to share our view that Google Analytics data is fundamental to any kind of testing or analysis, but we do.

There are two main arguments for why Google could be snooping on Google Analytics data, and both can be dissected (though it’s important to remember that both sides use some guesswork, given Google’s actual algorithm is confidential).

The first argument is that Google favors those who already utilize Google services.

The argument is basic. In principle, Google would want to thank those that help its company by using AdSense, AdWords, or Analytics.

This idea fails because it is entirely speculative.

Moreover, if Google were to apply this approach, it may quickly get into legal trouble. It generates a positive feedback loop that may raise monopolistic concerns by favoring its software’s users and encouraging even more usage of its search functionalities.

Google should steer clear of ambiguity if it wants to succeed.

Google Analytics reveals valuable information to Google.

Bounce rate worries would make sense if Google had access to more information about your site once you installed Google Analytics. However, Google automatically gathers all this data. After all, it was originally designed to crawl the web. Simply said, Google already has all it requires. After all, where do you suppose Google gets the information used in Google Analytics?

Webspam, according to Matt Cutts, has been shown to ignore information from Google Analytics. You can use Google Analytics; you can’t use Google Analytics; either way, your Google search engine rankings won’t be affected.

Google’s search engines aren’t likely to care about the data you see in Google Analytics.

3. It’s simple to falsify data in Google Analytics.

The sheer volume of articles written about how to identify and eliminate bot activity in Google Analytics should serve as a strong indicator of the service’s intrinsic unreliability. There is no reason for Google to include this “flawed” data in its ranking algorithm if Google Analytics isn’t robust enough to automatically filter out deceptive activity.

4. Google Analytics is not being used by a lot of websites.

We find it hard to imagine a marketing website without utilizing Google Analytics, given that 94.6% of them do. But according to research conducted by W3Techs, only around 54.3 percent of websites employ the utilization of Google Analytics.

Some websites don’t utilize any analytics tools at all, and even among those that do, not all of them rely on Google Analytics. Websites also make use of WordPress Jetpack and analytics packages like Clicky, New Relic, Amplitude, Heap, Yandex Metrica, and more. Bounce rate as measured by Google Analytics is therefore irrelevant to ranking.

what is google analytics

However, we have been talking about bounce rate in terms of the percentage we observe in Google Analytics up until this moment. It’s common sense that Google doesn’t require Google Analytics as a data source for website traffic and content. Google’s proprietary pogo-sticking algorithm is used to calculate your true website bounce rate.

Google’s algorithm for tracking pogo-sticking is called the pogo-sticking algorithm. Users engage in pogo-sticking when they click a link, find it is not what they are searching for, and then return to the search results page to click another link.

Wait a minute, the terms pogo-sticking and bounce rate seem eerily similar. The similarities between the two are often misunderstood. A high bounce rate, on the other hand, indicates that

Website is successful in luring its target demographic and meeting their demands on the homepage; or

Misleading content on the website is driving away potential customers.

Only the latter can lead to pogo-sticking. In other words, large bounce rates aren’t always bad, but pogo-sticking is.

The “search pogo-sticking benchmarks” patent states that Google records the number of times a user clicks on a search result before settling on a particular result and the number of times a user clicks on a result after settling on a particular result.

If your website has a high bounce rate AND consumers click on numerous additional links after visiting, Google’s algorithm will decide that your website is encouraging users to pogo-stick. Your page rank will suffer if you cater to unimportant keyboards, employ baffling layouts, or supply insufficient information to your users.

Instead of measuring the amount of pogo-sticking your page creates using bounce rate, Google employs the ratio of long clicks to short clicks.

A lengthy click is when a person clicks on a result and then spends a significant amount of time on that page. They never go back to the index again. Conversely, a brief click happens when a user clicks a link but then immediately returns to the search results page. Google optimizes for the length of clicks since it’s a good indicator of the satisfaction of users.

The ramifications for search engine optimization are obvious; to rise in the rankings, you need to attract visitors who stay on your page for an extended period of time.

It’s interesting to learn that bounce rate still important after learning why Google doesn’t utilize Google Analytics’ bounce rate.

Is a high rate of bouncing always a red flag?

A high rate of “bounces” typically indicates bad news. However, in some cases, it is meaningless. The answer is conditional on the nature and goals of your website.

If you run a company website with a complex sales funnel, one of your content goals should be to guide visitors from the very top of the funnel, where you’ve got all your best stuff, all the way down to the landing page. Right?

If people come to your website, read the first page, and then leave, they will never make it to the conclusion of the sales funnel. A large percentage of first-time visitors leaving without exploring further is a clear sign that your website is failing to meet its intended function.

In these conditions, a high bounce rate is obviously undesirable.

On the other hand, your company’s website can exist just to encourage people to send you an email or give you a call. In this case, it’s not necessary for site visitors to go anywhere else on your site. One “contact page” with all the stuff they need and they’ll be done.

Know that this will generate a high bounce rate, but that this is not always a bad thing. This is due to the fact that they now have all the information they need to get in touch with you thanks to your website or web page. It didn’t require them to go to a different page on your site, which is good for your bounce rate.

What is a Good Bounce Rate?

Depending on your specific field, the answer may vary.

It’s possible to get a bounce rate of 35%–40% in some areas. However, a high bounce rate of 80% or more is prevalent in certain subfields.

Therefore, in general, it is dependent on the field you are operating in.

A 70% or thereabouts bounce rate is acceptable for a publishing website with plenty of blog entries.

what is good bounce rate

Gains from a High Conversion Rate

We may confidently conclude that a low bounce rate is a favorable indicator in the vast majority of circumstances.

To what end, though? The benefits of a low website bounce rate are manifold.

Having a low bounce rate is beneficial in more ways than one. The following are a few of its most salient features:

1. Reduced Bounce Rate = Increased Participation

A low bounce rate indicates that users are not leaving your site after seeing only one page. They are also viewing more of your content overall, as evidenced by their clicking on links inside the site.

Better user engagement is the end result of all of this work.

Increased user participation leads to a larger fan base, more page visits, a higher conversion rate, and higher earnings.

2. PageRank and Bounce Rate

Having a low bounce rate also aids search engine optimization, which is a major plus.

Search engine ranking parameters are becoming increasingly user-centric as search engines improve their ability to track and analyze user behavior.

Websites that search engines consider to be helpful to their intended demographics will naturally rise in the rankings. If it doesn’t, they’ll demote it on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Because of this, keyword optimization is losing ground in favor of other ranking variables such as social signals and backlinks.

In any case, search engines don’t take a high bounce rate well. It means that your site’s users aren’t interested enough in other sections of your site to click on them.

In contrast, a website with a low bounce rate is more likely to be favorably ranked by search engines.

Visitors to the site agree with search engines like Google that it has a wealth of informative and engaging material. After all, if people aren’t leaving after reading only one page, that’s not a good sign. Instead, they’re clicking on links to other blog entries because they find them so interesting and useful.

As a result, search engines prioritize sites with a low bounce rate, increasing the likelihood that more people will find the information they’re looking for.

Is there a correlation between other SEO metrics and bounce rate?

Most SEO publications will avoid answering this topic, despite its significance.

In the end, it doesn’t matter if Google analyzes your website’s bounce rate with Analytics and adjusts your page rank accordingly. After all, it’s not hard to keep track of obvious consequences. What’s important is how bounce rate impacts the SEO criteria that actually matter to Google.

Let’s get back to the pogo-sticking topic first. It should now be abundantly evident that pogo-sticking is not amenable to direct monitoring using analytics software. Black-box algorithms, like Google’s, are notoriously difficult to deconstruct. However, by combining two known factors—bounce rate and dwell time—we may get past this information gap.

Although you can’t use these two factors to assess search intent, you can get a reasonable idea of how much of your organic traffic falls into the category of lengthy clicks.

Simply said, if your website has a high bounce rate but people still spend a lot of time on it, you probably have a decent long click percentage even though your bounce rate is bad. Optimizing for bounce rate isn’t always necessary, and may be avoided by considering dwell duration.

Second, poor performance in other areas of SEO is typically reflected in a high bounce rate. When your bounce rate seems unusually high, you may want to look at the following SEO issues:

  • A sluggish load time

  • Poorly-executed site design

  • Keywords and content don’t match up

  • Mobile site optimization issues

When SEO specialists “fix” bounce rate, they often address these curable issues.

The problem arises when attention is placed on the symptom (bounce rate) rather than the cause. This explains why “fixing” your website’s bounce rate might sometimes improve your search engine results page ranking and other times have no effect at all.

You should always pay close attention to your bounce rate because it is a crucial measure.

It helps with technical SEO and gives you insight into the future of your website.

A high bounce rate indicates issues with your website’s content, structure, or navigation, all of which should be addressed immediately. One of the strongest signs that the quality and engagement level of your blog’s content might use some work is a high bounce rate.

On the other hand, your website’s purpose may be different, such as producing phone leads, if it is not a publishing website with numerous blog articles. The high bounce rate of such a website is unavoidable if its primary goal of lead generation is to be achieved.

Final thought

The main point is that while if bounce rate has no bearing on your page rank, it is still something you should be aware of and work to reduce.

When properly measured, high bounce rates are an indication of underlying problems, such as a bad user experience or improper targeting. You should be concerned about these issues. Improvements in search engine optimization (SEO) often follow fixes to more fundamental issues, such as those related to usability and client targeting.

To improve your site performance you can also hire an SEO consultant and use their SEO consultancy services.

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