Why Bounce Rate Can Help SEO

Written by: Jason Bayless | April 29, 2015

One of the most undervalued and underestimated metrics of any site’s SEO strategy is the website’s ‘bounce rate‘.

What is bounce rate and why does it matter?

First, you need to know the definition of the word ‘bounce’ in terms of SEO. ‘Bounce’ refers to when someone uses Google to find your website using a specific keyword and then clicks on the Google listing for that said keyword, reaches your site, and then immediately hits the ‘backspace’ button to go back to the original Google listings search page. In other words, they didn’t find what they were looking for or like what they visually saw upon clicking on your site.

Here’s a closer look at the relationship between bounce rate and SEO.

Why Bounce Rate Matters

Basically, if you think the way Google does, you have to interpret the actions of millions of users on an enormously massive scale. Google processes billions of keyword searches every day. Managing that amount of information, they make specific assumptions concerning both users and sites that go way deeper than anyone can possibly imagine.

For example, Google understands that knives are related to swords. This is an easy conclusion for humans to make, but for a robot to discern between the two is incredibly difficult. Google, however, has seen tens of thousands of web pages that contain the word ‘knives’ along with many of those same pages listing the word ‘swords’ as well. Therefore, Google came to the conclusion that knives and swords are related.

Think Like Google

Continuing to think like Google, imagine a certain site that Google ranks in the top three listings on page one of the search results. Everyone wants to be ranked on the first page of Google’s search results, right?

Let’s say that after reaching the number two spot on the page, the majority of traffic it sees decides to click ‘backspace’ within five seconds or less. An obvious assumption would be because the site isn’t that great since countless people are clicking on the site, but most of those people are leaving in five seconds or less. What are they seeing in those few seconds that are causing them to leave?

Google tracks those user actions and monitors how much traffic a site is getting as well as how users respond to the site. If they’re leaving quickly, Google won’t let that site remain that high in the search rankings for long since their ultimate goal is to provide the most related top 10 search results as possible for each keyword.

How Google Measures Bounce

Google doesn’t divulge their metrics in terms of measuring ‘bounce’. In any case, it’s likely they’re not perfect. It seems everyone has a different theory although no one really knows for sure. Obviously, the reason why Google doesn’t explain the exact way they measure bounce, or what even constitutes bounce, is because most ‘black hat’ SEOers would try tricking Google into thinking that their websites have a 0% bounce rate, which would leave spammy websites littering Google’s prime first page. One role of Google is fight spam and black hat tactics every day on the Web.

How to Decrease Your Website’s Bounce Rate

Lowering a website’s bounce rate can sometimes be effortless and other times be quite difficult since every website is different. Blogs and service associated sites are much different from ecommerce sites. Therefore, it’s likely that bounce rate is calculated differently according to the specific kind of site. Google has the job of categorizing websites. It must categorize them since searchers are often vague regarding their queries. What’s the answer? The best way to lower bounce rate is to create a site for humans, rather than search engines.

Could it be that simple? The answer is yes. Think about it. People are clicking on your site. Therefore, your site needs to be human (user) friendly. Imagine yourself as the user. Would you want to stay on your site more than five seconds? Empathize with your audience and create helpful information to make their lives better in some way. Immediately deliver your message and your bounce rate will plunge while your rankings stay high.