What is my bounce rate and why it matters for SEO

Written by: Jason Bayless | February 06, 2015

When someone accesses your website and then clicks the back button to leave your site, that user is said to have bounced. The percentage of visitors who turn back from your site is called the bounce rate. Ideally, you will have a bounce rate of 0 percent. However, it is natural for at least some traffic to bounce. Keeping your bounce rate to a minimum could have an impact on site SEO and where your site appears in the search rankings.

High Bounce Rate Could Indicate Shallow Content

A high bounce rate may mean that your content is shallow, contains spam or is otherwise not what a site visitor is looking for. In turn, Google will see this signal and make sure that your site is ranked lower than other sites that have proven to be more useful. In extreme scenarios, you may see that your site is removed from search altogether.

As a general rule, it is important that site visitors get content that they want to share with their friends. This is why many sites now focus on social media promotion and content marketing as opposed to solely targeting keywords. If a page attracts a lot of attention through social media or other outlets, it could reduce bounce rate and improve site optimization.

How Do You Determine Bounce Rate?

Anyone who has a website should connect that site with Google analytics. Your bounce rate will be shown to you in real-time, which may make it easier to determine whether bouncing has become a recent problem or has been an issue for a long period of time. Analytic tools can also help you see which keywords people are using to find your page and where in the world your traffic is coming from. In some cases, you may find that you are targeting the wrong keywords or generating less than ideal traffic, which could lead to providing content that is not useful to a visitor.

What Can Be Done to Improve Bounce Rate for a Site?

There are a few steps that can be taken to ensure a lower bounce rate for your site. The first step is to perform a site audit. This may involve looking at heat maps of where people go when accessing your page or conducting A/B testing to determine which content or media does better on a given page. Going through with such testing may also make it possible to find broken or spam links that may be hurting the reputation of your page.

How Long Will it Take to Regain Prior Search Position?

If measures are taken to fix errors on a site, it may not take long before Google allows you to have your page indexed in the search results. However, this does not mean that you will be given a top position right away. It may take until the next algorithm update to see your site go back to where it may have been previously in the search rankings. Depending on what changes are made, which new keywords are targeted and when search rankings are tweaked, it could be weeks or months before any tangible result is seen.

If your goal is to attract targeted and high quality traffic, you need to provide high quality content. Otherwise, your traffic may bounce, which could lead to your site plummeting in the search results due to having a poor reputation. While you cannot control what a site visitor will do, constant monitoring of your site can give you insight into what your visitors want to keep them around and lower your bounce rate.