What is your bounce rate and why is it important for SEO?
If you’re a small or medium-sized business owner you may not have come across the term ‘bounce rate’ or you may have noticed it on your Google Analytics web stats. The reason why bounce rate has always featured so prominently on top line web stats is because it’s a key indication on how engaging your web pages are to visitors. And this has an impact on SEO.
Bounce rate explained
The bounce rate of your website – or a particular page – is the percentage of users who leave the web page they landed on without any kind of interaction with it. No clicks; they simply arrive, decide it’s not what they wanted to see and leave, looking for a more suitable resource.
For this reason, bounce rate is a measure of the quality of a user’s visit and a high bounce rate indicates that the pages people are landing on – your ‘landing pages’ – aren’t relevant to them.
A website’s bounce rate is displayed as a percentage: the total number of sessions viewing the site and leaving without any interaction is divided by the total number of page views for a given time period. In simple terms, a high bounce rate is bad and a low bounce rate is good!
In Google Analytics, you will see an overall bounce rate for your website displayed in your top line stats and a report that shows which pages have the highest individual bounce rates.
Bounce rate vs. exit rate
Bounce rate is different from exit rate because it measures people who leave without visiting any other pages on your website. An exit rate for a page refers to visitors who leave your site from a particular page, after coming to that page from somewhere else on your site.
A common example of a bounce is someone who lands on your home page from the search results and hits the back button on their browser pretty much straight away. If they clicked on your products page then left the site, the visit would show as an exit from the product page and not a bounce because they’ve visited two pages on your site.
What counts as a bounce?
You may be surprised what counts as a bounce. We’ve already mentioned clicking the back button but there are a number of things a user can do which will also count. If they close the window or tab, that counts. Typing a new URL in the address bar does too. So, does clicking on a link to another website from within your page. They are all ways of leaving your website without interaction.
How it impacts SEO
Google uses a complex set of metrics when ranking web pages but its own user data is pretty critical. Both bounce and exit rate are strong indicators of a web page’s quality and ‘stickiness’ – and Google’s primary aim is to serve up the best quality and most relevant pages in its search engine results pages (SERPS). If your pages have a high bounce rate, it means they’re not relevant to the search terms users typed – and will be less likely to rank well. Conversely, if the bounce rate is low, it means users are spending time on your page, finding content to engage in and exploring your site further.
What is a good bounce rate?
Every industry is different so we can’t give a blanket answer to this. Instead you should compare your web metrics with other sites in your industry. Shopping websites tend to have lower bounce rates as people are more inclined to browse products, whereas a specific geographical landing page for a service industry which contains all the information users need on that page will have a significantly higher rate. This also applies if your website is a simple one-page site. As a guide:
- Retail sites should aim for 20-40%
- Service industry sites (e.g. Financial services) should aim for 10-30%
- Content sites should aim for 40-60%
- Landing pages should aim for 70-90%
What can I do to improve my website?
As a first step to improving your website bounce rate you should identify which pages on your website users land on most frequently. You can do this in Google Analytics. These are the pages you should focus on to do the following things:
- Ensure the content on the page is relevant and engaging – you may consider rewriting it, breaking it up, adding images or video and links to other relevant content. Ensure there is enough detail for users if they want it. If you’re worried about having too much visible content on the page, you can use ‘read more’ links.
- Ensure the design of the page is engaging – clear layout, easy to read font, clear journey through the page and jumps off to relevant content. Perhaps get someone who’s never seen the page to take a test drive through it.
- Ensure any links to external sites open in a new window by using the target=”_blank” attribute in your links.
- Link to a glossary that explains industry terms or a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.
- Ensure the page loads quickly. We recommend aiming for a 5 second page load time. To measure this, use a tool like GT Metrix or Google’s own Page Speed Checker (NB this will check your mobile page speed as Google now looks at mobile ahead of desktop).
- Get rid of any pop-up ads – they annoy users.
- If your page has adverts, consider where they’re placed. Too many, too prominently on the page are a turn off.
- Check that your site navigation is clear and the user journey through the website is planned out.
- Include plenty of internal links to other, useful pages on your website – e.g. similar products and services, customer reviews, relevant blog or news posts and contact page
- Include clear calls to action (CTAs) as buttons or banners to prompt users to click on them.
If you implement the above points on your key pages, you will not only improve your bounce rate but also the SEO for that page – and in turn should see more users from organic search. But remember, nothing happens overnight so keep checking those web metrics every month!