How should you calculate bounce rate, and how can an improved bounce rate lead to better SEO performance?
Bounce rate is one of those web marketing terms that means very little without context. It has nothing to do with inflatable balls or basketball games. When it comes to website analytics, bounce rate involves the percentage of visitors who leave a webpage without taking an action, like clicking on a link or filling out a form.
What’s considered a “good” bounce rate and what’s considered “bad”? The answer depends on who you ask, and what type of publication you run. One thing we can all agree on is that bounce rate isn’t a metric you should ignore.
We’ve put together a quick guide with information about how to calculate bounce rate, what constitutes a good bounce rate (and what doesn’t), and how having a good bounce rate leads to better SEO performance.
What Is a Bounce Rate?
A bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who land on a page on a website and then leave without clicking on anything else, also known as completing an action. If a visitor comes to your website and then leaves without clicking on any links, we consider that a “bounce.”
In the physical world, that might look like a shopper who enters a store, stands near the front and takes a look around, then turns around and leaves without picking up any items or making any purchases. That customer has bounced.
Keep in mind, a website bounce rate is different from an exit rate. Bounce rates measure the visitors who arrive at your website and leave without navigating away from a single page. Exit rates include the percentage of visitors who leave your website from a certain page, even if that wasn’t the only page they visited. Exit rates don’t tell you as much about what’s going on with your visitors as bounce rates do. That’s why it’s so important that publishers learn how to calculate bounce rate for better SEO performance.
What Is Considered a Good Bounce Rate?
Different types of publications have different bounce rate averages. For example, the average bounce rate for a blog is 70% to 90%, according to Clicktale, whereas the average bounce rate for content sites is between 40% and 60%. Service websites have average bounce rates that are just 10% to 30%.
Because the average bounce rate can vary so wildly from industry to industry, comparison across publications or verticals is not recommended. Instead, publishers should focus on tracking their own bounce rates over time to look for signs of improvement.
How Does Bounce Rate Impact SEO?
The first thing to know about improving bounce rate for better SEO performance is that Google does not use bounce rates as a metric on search engine results pages (SERPs). That information is surprising to many publishers, given the usefulness and value that we put on bounce rates as a website metric.
According to Google, bounce rates are not currently used as a factor on SERPs for the following reasons:
- Bounce rates can’t accurately measure user engagement because the rate itself doesn’t factor the time a user spends on page.
- Bounce rate is a metric that’s typically found on Google Analytics, or similar analytics platforms, and not all publishers use these services. Therefore, Google is reluctant to use this metric as a ranking factor on SERPs.
- Bounce rates can easily be manipulated, and Google Analytics isn’t currently powerful enough to automatically filter out these types of manipulative actions.
Despite bounce rate not being used as an official ranking factor, it can indirectly impact SERPs. That’s because a high bounce rate may indicate that there’s a problem with things like slow page speed, low-quality website design, or poor mobile optimization — all of which are factors that Google does care a great deal about.
Bounce rate is most useful when it’s used to indicate a good, or bad, user experience. Having a low bounce rate indicates that users are enjoying the experience when visiting your website, likely for many of the same reasons that Google cares about when ranking websites for search.
Although bounce rate is a metric that does not directly impact search rankings, this is something that publishers should still be tracking, so they can understand whether their user experience is successful. Having a low bounce rate is a good indication that your website is engaging, valuable, and useful, and that it’s the type of website that Google should surface on the first page of search results.
To learn more about how to improve your website’s Google ranking for high-value keywords, reach out to our team of SEO specialists at Web Publisher PRO.