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Google Algorithm Update – Is Bounce Rate a Ranking Signal?

User Bounces in the Post-Panda World

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Google Algorithm Update – Is Bounce Rate a Ranking Signal?
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Update: Looks like we have a direct answer now.

Forget for a moment everything you think you know about Google and how they rank content. Put yourself in the role of a person who is tasked with ranking results. One result gets clicked often, but most of the time the user only stays on the page for a few seconds (if that), returns to the results page, and clicks on another result.

Meanwhile, another result on the same page gets clicked on a lot too, but when users click on that one, they stay on the page longer, and don’t even return to the results page to find another result to click on. Nor do they refine their query. Which page is most likely the one that has the better content for that particular search?

Should bounce rate be a ranking signal? Comment here.

Well, being a human, you have the luxury of looking at both pages and making that call. Now, pretend you’re not a human. You’re a computer algorithm tasked with ranking the world’s information for the majority of searchers. While you have over 200 signals that can help you determine which one should rank higher, wouldn’t this be one that could help?

This is not exactly bounce rate, but it’s related. In this case, it is the bounce in the direction of back to the SERP, and while there has been a lot of discussion and argument about whether Google uses actual bounce rate as a signal, it seems pretty likely that they are looking at this specific element of it.

SearchMetrics, after releasing data about the Panda winners and losers in the UK, said, “It seems that all the loser sites are sites with a high bounce rate and a less time on site ratio. Price comparison sites are nothing more than a search engine for products. If you click on a product you ‘bounce’ to the merchant. So if you come from Google to ciao.co.uk listing page, than you click on an interesting product with a good price and you leave the page. On Voucher sites it is the same. And on content farms like ehow you read the article and mostly bounce back to Google or you click Adsense.”

“And on the winners are more trusted sources where users browse and look for more information,” the firm added. “Where the time on site is high and the page impressions per visit are also high. Google’s ambition is to give the user the best search experience. That’s why they prefer pages with high trust, good content and sites that showed in the past that users liked them.”

WebmasterWorld Founder Brett Tabke wrote in a recent forum post, discussing what he calls the “Panda metric“, that “Highly successful, high referral, low bounce, quality, and historical pages have seen a solid boost with panda.”

In a recent video from Google’s Matt Cutts, on ranking in 2011, he talks about increasing site speed, and how this can keep users on your site longer (IE: not bouncing), you can increase your ROI. Speed is a ranking signal. We know that. Speed can reduce bounce rate. Even if Google doesn’t use bounce rate directly, there is a strong relationship here.

A reader (hat tip to Jordy) sent us this link from Matt McGee at SearchEngineLand, posted last June:

Bounce rate and rankings? Matt [Cutts] says Google Analytics is not used in the general ranking algorithm. “To the best of my knowledge, the rankings team does not use bounce rate in any way.” He tiptoed around this question a bit, choosing his words very carefully.

The part about tiptoeing is somewhat intriguing in and of itself, but it’s also important to note that this was nearly a year ago, and the Panda update was not announced until just this past February (and has even been tweaked since then).

We also picked the brain of SEO vet Jim Boykin. We asked Jim how important he thinks bounce rate is. He says, “I think that some aspects of bounce rate are very important in the post-panda world.”

“It’s important to note how Google defines Bounce Rate,” he adds. This is below:

“Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page. Use this metric to measure visit quality – a high bounce rate generally indicates that site entrance pages aren’t relevant to your visitors. The more compelling your landing pages, the more visitors will stay on your site and convert. You can minimize bounce rates by tailoring landing pages to each keyword and ad that you run. Landing pages should provide the information and services that were promised in the ad copy.”

He also points to how it is defined in Google Analytics:

“The percentage of single page visits resulting from this set of pages or page.”

“Personally, I don’t think that a single page visit is a bad thing. To me, it tells me the visitor found what they were looking for. Isn’t that what Google would want? If I were Google, I’d want a searcher to find the answer to their search on the exact page they clicked on in a search result…not 1 or 2 clicks in. If I were Google, I’d look more at ‘Who Bounces off that page, and returns to the same Google search, and clicks on someone else, and then never returns to your site,’ but I’m not Google, and that’s just my ‘if I were Google’ thoughts”.

Regardless, it can’t be a bad thing to strive to make every page of yours the best page of its type – the solution to the searcher’s problem. At its heart, that is really what the Panda update is about. Really, that’s what search ranking is about in general. Delivering the BEST result for the query – signals aside.

As far as links, while Boykin says it’s “kind of” fair to say that making sure your links point to quality pages can have a major impact on how Google ranks your site post-Panda, he says, “The final solution should be to remove or fix the low quality pages, and thus, all your links would point to ‘quality pages’.”

Again, this should improve bounce rate.

“I think most agree that there’s a ‘Page Score’ or a ‘set of pages score,’ and when that has a bad score, it affects those pages, and somehow ripples up the site,” Boykin adds. “It could quite well be that if you have a page that links out to 100 internal pages, and if 80 of those pages are ‘low quality’ than it just might affect that page as well. A lot of this is hard to prove, but there are some smoking guns that can point in this direction.”

“Bounce rate is important, and yes, many sites that got hit did have a high bounce rate, but comparing this to sites/pages that weren’t hit doesn’t exactly show any ‘ah ha’ moments of ‘hey, if your bounce rate is over 75%, then you got Panda pooped on,’ because the bounce rate Google shows the public is missing many key metrics that they know, but don’t share with us.”

I think the best advice you can follow in relation to all of this is to simply find ways to keep people from leaving your site, before they complete the task you want them to complete. That means providing content they want.

Is bounce rate important in the post-Panda world? Tell us what you think.

Google Algorithm Update – Is Bounce Rate a Ranking Signal?
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  • http://www.cutroni.com/blog Justin Cutroni

    It would be close to impossible for Google to include Bounce Rate from Google Analytics in the algorithm. Let me explain why.

    Bounce rate, like many metrics can very easily be manipulated by the site owner. A bounce is calculated when there is only one pageview in the visit. HOWEVER, a site owner can programmatically generate a second pageview. So even though a visitor might only see one page, Google Analytics would register 2 pages and thus NO bounce.

    And there are other tools in Google Analytics that site owners can use to manipulate bounce rate. Things like events.

    Looking beyond Google Analytics, how would Google scale the addition of bounce rate into the algorithm? While GA does cover a good portion of the internet, it is not installed on every site.

    And finally, as was pointed out in the article. there needs to be some business context around what is a good bounce rate and what is bad. There is no way to categorically identify a bad bounce rate. You need to take the metric in the context of page purpose.

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    Bounce rate doesn’t tell Google or any other search engine anything useful or reliable about what the user found on the page. A satisfied user can leave just as quickly and easily as a dissatisfied user.

    However, if we assume for the sake of discussion that bounce rate is being factored into the search engine’s analysis, they will get more useful and informative data from monitoring their own click logs than from trying to analyze Google Analytics data — which is not collected for every site anyway.

  • http://www.castawaydays.com Jerry Fox

    Bounce rate should certainly NOT be used for directories such as my boating and fishing one. The clear intent is for the visitor to quickly find the connection they want and go to it. As a matter of fact, if bounce rate figured into it, then Google Search would rank VERY low – same principle.

  • http://mccom.com Robert Duncan

    Wouldn’t work with a flash site.

  • http://www.acquistovestitionline.com/ Acquistovestitionline.com

    …maybe now I understand the reason why some of my blogs, lost some positions ( sometimes even disappeared from the SERP or jumped on the 20th page of Google )

  • http://www.thedirecttree.com John

    I don’t think the bounce rate should be used for SERP. Some pages might have the exact information user is looking for therefore they close the page yes they might be on the page only for a few seconds.

  • http://www.metanym.com/milton-keynes MarkFL

    If it is factored in then it would punish websites which are regularly visited just to get a phone number e.g. my electricians! His website is much better than his competitors but I don’t stay long as I only need his number now. Web Design Milton Keynes

  • http://www.absolutewebworks.com/ Jesse

    This article opened my eyes to a potential new factor in optimizing websites. If it’s just a matter of people clicking off of the home page I do not think it should be a factor because the visitor may have found the information they were looking for. I thought that the time on the site would be a better consideration however it was brought to my attention that directory sites would suffer. In regards to YouTube videos I think that the percentage of time spent watching the video should definitely be a factor. There are many low quality videos that are not even videos that simply get clicked on because they have a high view count. Many of which got there because they sponsored there video.

  • http://www.therabill.com Joe Dundas

    Absolutely not. My site is a member login site. When a current member comes to my site and immediately logs in, according to analytics.. that is a “bounce”. Holding that against my site would be a sham.

    • http://www.talayproperty.com Yu

      Do your members find you every time through a Google search?
      Or may be they have just bookmarked your page or something?
      I think bounces on direct hits don’t count does that seem logical?
      I think for it to count it has to come from a SERPS search.

  • http://www.canics.com Steve Herscheid

    In the case of Canics.com, it would definitively NOT be fair to have bounce rate be a measure of site performance. I’ll begin by explaining how my site conversion ‘works’.
    Canics.com has an extensive 12 million unique electronic component part number catalog (database), which is indexed. Subsequently Google users looking for supply of a given unique part, find parts within Canics’ indexed catalog. Once a Google (and other major search engines)user clicks on a Canics search result, I have programmed Canics so that the users query is ‘re-searched’ in a separate database for availability and subsequently displaying results (quantities available) in an I-frame on Canics.com.
    This is where Google (and my site tracker) looses track of the visitors actions, thus the ‘high’ bounce rate according to Google analytics ! In reality the bounce rate is NOT high because users then send us a request for quantity and pricing via the I-frame for further potential business. I am quite aware that Canics’ bounce rate is high but this is NOT for lack of potential customer interest, it is due to lack of traceability. (The path completed in the I-frame is just not captured).
    This has long been a concern of mine. Just getting canics’ 12000 catalog pages indexed requires periodical updates along with some meaningful text amongst the millions of ‘meaningless to Google’ electronic component part numbers.
    As a es, Google this “peb4565tsv1.6″. Canics is on top of page 2. Click ont he link and you will see live availability of this item.
    I would be interested in any comments you may have regarding Canics.com
    Canics will undergo changes in the next few weeks as for navigation and colors/textures. Also I will have a weekly updated “top 25 most wanted” parts section (hope this helps us). I do reealize I need to look at speed of the site, that’s next.
    Sincere regards, Steve H, PDG, Canics.com.

  • http://www.suxsol.in Suxsol

    There can be many reasons for bouncing back. Some times a website may really have good info on it but the looks also matter a lot, and one may just bounce back seeing too much matter cramped in the page he landed on and was not willing to read the whole essay for just the few words of info he was looking for. In such a case even a very good informative sight might have a high bounce rate just because the visitor did not wait enough to read it properly. I have seen people browse with so much of impatience that they go on clicking and clicking as though they are Supermen who can read everything in a second. Many times a visitor may simply leave immediately if the looks (not the value of info on the site) is not so appealing.

  • http://www.ealtbay.com Frank

    My site has a ‘bounce-rate’ of 76% and I have gone nothing but down in rankings. As with all other online auction sites, most of Ealtbay Alternative Internet Auctions conteent is related to what the site users post, and not what the site engine provides. You are at the mercy of the user posted content.

  • http://www.jiletlitelfiyati.com Jack Fisher

    definitely not,if a website is only publishing exchange rates then the visitor will visit the site in only few seconds ,will get the information he wants and quits .
    and he does this everyday !!
    does this mean the website is bad on the basis of low bounce rate ?

  • http://dwisty.wordpress.com dwisty

    i want to my blog rank higher

  • http://www.randomnest.com Brad Hutchison

    I love this. Too many sites are worried about keywords and garbage content that their UX is terribly planned. This should help clean up the garbage and put more thoughtful designers back in business! Unfortunately the possible hacks to beat this could kill a good plan.

  • http://www.perey-anthropology.net Arnold Perey

    People will unfortunately stay around to read something that sounds scandalous, whether its true or not, whether it has value or not. The bounce rate of a “smear site” won’t be a measure of its relevance or value. The worse it is, the more likely it is that the person who casually drops into it will keep on reading.

    Valuable sites too can attract visitors and keep them. The bounce rate of such a site may also depend on how visually engaging it is. Bounce alone doth not an algorithm make. The only way to rank sites as to their value is intelligent, critical evaluation of them. That can’t be done robotically. It’s hard enough for a human to do it. But an algorithm has not yet been invented that can measure the value of an idea, a website, a presentation of human expression. In fact the existing algorithms are woefully inept. Distinguishing between good and bad is just too much at this time for algorithm formulators to manage.

  • Nathan

    To be honest sounds like a good idea but there is more than one way to skin a cat. It does have value and therefore from a purely conceptual ideal it should be included. Doing this technically possibly limits the ways you can handle this information and some suggested implementations would mean it should definitely not be the most pertinent factor in the algorithm. Though there is worth in attempting to solve these problems, not trying is a quitters game.

  • http://www.imsupporting.com live chat

    Personally I cant see how they can use a metric that isnt available for every website.

    If a user doesn’t have any kind of google toolbar /app running athe website isnt running google analytics, Then theres NO WAY that google know tell a bounce.

    The data just isnt reliable enough to use.
    Also as another reader mentioned.. It can be manipulated quite easy.

    Its pointless using the “click logs” from googles own system as a site ranking higher will naturally get more clicks and as such get higher..

  • http://www.arthurspools.com/ Craig

    Well that would be great if you are in a static market, but few of us live there. The paradigm shifts constantly and if what qualifies as ranking is yesterdays news, that creates a great lag in the industry.

    Sure you can adjust, move people from the old to the new, but that’s just one SEO step we could do without.

  • Jack

    so let me get this straight…

    if I hire 100 people to open my websites several times during the day in different parts of the world with different IP’s and names and have them stay on the pages for 5-10 minutes each time, I will increase my ranking in the serps?

    That almost does not make sense.. Bounce rate was a way for companies to modify their content and design to satisfy their niche.. It was not a signal for the search engines and it should never be!

    If you ask me.. search engines can not use every known method as a singal in their results, it will create a complex algo that will eventually pick on itself. The less signals and the more quality evaluation of content is what panda is all about.

    • http://www.bartendingcentral.com Michael Corder

      If this were incorporated, a new “internet business” paradigm rears it’s head. Similar to traffic sites where people are compelled to view an advert for a certain time to gain points, a model could be set up with the website instead of just an ad. IE: Stay on this page for 10 minutes and get 50 credits.

      I shall call my new business debounce the web dot com.

  • http://www.talayproperty.com Yu

    I am very certain SERPS do count bounce rate for ranking.
    The reason I am convinced?

    My website is new (just 4 months) but did hit place 1 2 and 3 in google in within just 2 months in Thai language with 4 different keywords searches, knocking a Pr4 site to pos 4 I am a Pr0. I have a Real Estate business in Thailand. I believe I hit pos 1 because I use T1 titles and the other do not.

    Then my webpage was systematically bounced day after day with exactly the same search strings which were the same as my page titles which were top ranked ones in google.

    I would like to call these bounce attacks! I analyzed my log files and guess what? the 100% bounces were all coming from ROMANIA and INDIA! and in Thai language! All searches in Thai with Thai ip address were not bounces. It’s very strange would you not say? Anyway the question really, is it possible for your competitor’s to take down your Google position by employing cheap labor and bouncing your site? In my case it seams to be true.

    If you search

    ให้เช่าบ้านเดี่ยวในเมืองพัทยา
    ให้เช่าบ้านเดี่ยว เมืองพัทยา
    บ้านเดี่ยวให้เช่าในพัทยา
    บ้านเช่าพัทยา

    You will find my website pos 3 or 4 where as before it was 1 2 and 3.
    Please don’t misunderstand being pos 3 doesn’t really bother me in fact I am happy! what does disturb me a bit is what the top sites are willing to do and even spend to stay at Nr. 1.

    However one bonus is that my site has got very good Alexa rank because of the attacks! Including ranking in Romania and India!:) Should I be happy or sad?

    The point is I really do think Bounce effects Google search position.
    Sorry about my English

    Yu

  • http://www.yosemitegoldcountry.org Sandy Gordon

    Our tourism website for our county is geared for users to link directly to the attraction, hotel, event, etc. they want to know more about. This results in a high bounce rate – - but our intention is for them to move to what interests them. Therefore, I feel we should not be penalized for a high bounce rate.

  • http://www.bartendingcentral.com Michael Corder

    Hi,

    I’m not so sure. From my standpoint, if I am searching for information on a specific topic, I often come across detail & in depth results. Since, at the time, I am usually looking for a “quick” answer, I often bookmark these pages for later perusal, and RETURN to the Search Results to find a LESS comprehensive site.

    Also, many times when it is important info, I will find an apparently credible site, bookmark it, and immediately investigate the credibility of the source before committing the time to the site itself.

    For me, this metric is a hard call…

  • http://ukrbiz.info ukrbiz.info

    The real question should be – what is bounce rate and how it is calculated? I have used Google analytics for long time and noticed that it doesn’t calculate page views correctly, there for the bounce rate was very high! Now I have installed php script that runs on my own server and it is totally different rate. We can’t trust GA, there for in my view the bounce rate should not be one of 200 PR points to consider.

  • Stupidscript

    Agreeing with Jim Boykin’s perspective on single-page visits:

    When a visitor comes to our site, if they hit the site and pick up the phone to call us, that’s what we count as a complete success … they saw our ad because we bid on the right term, they clicked the ad because we spoke to them, they found the info they needed on the landing page, and they closed the deal.

    If they click around the various pages and then call us, that’s a success, too, but it costs us a bit more in terms of bandwidth, so it’s not a “complete” success, like a single-page conversion is.

    If they click around the various pages but never call us, that’s what we call a failure … wasting both PPC money and bandwidth.

    So, in our case, and no doubt in many, many other cases, a single-page visit in no way indicates the success or failure of the search process. There is simply no method for Google to determine whether that single-page visit satisfied the searcher, converting, as it did, via a phone call.

    If Google does use bounce rate, it would be extremely interesting to know their justification for doing so. But logic dictates that Google understands the above scenarios, and so they could not, in all good conscience, use bounce rate as a significant ranking metric.

  • http://greensboro-nc.com/ Greensboro

    If it is can I continue to use Google analytics? I can but don’t like that seems conflict of interest. Then again if we are all in the same boat does it matter? Who will be punished who won’t who does better? It wouldn’t seem right if a site only got 10 visits and no bounces to rank high. One question if you get a chance what would be considered an acceptable bounce rate? As webmasters I know you really hate to see % on bounce rate if we are to meet expectations it helps to know your goals if you want to achieve them.
    Thanks

  • http://www.talayproperty.com Yu

    Bounces do effect your google position but will need a lot of bounces to go down. I would say 70% bounce on keyword searches will make you go down a bit but that will also depend on bounce rate of competition.
    Bounces on direct hits do not count.

    Goole Analytics I find to be inaccurate and recommend using some software that analysis actual log files on your server.

  • http://www.livingportugalproperty.com portugal property

    We have a bounce rate of around fifty percent which of course I’d like to improve. However I believe Google could be right, if you arrive at a page and you don’t like the look of it, you leave. Bounce rate therefore is probably another good indicator of quality.

  • http://safeperiodcalculator.com Isabella Roberts

    Bounce rate is an important factor for google indexing along with number of returing visitors. Any web site that is really useful for visitors will get a better google ranking.

  • http://www.sefati.net sefati

    I think it would not be a good ranking factor because there is no way for Google to fully know that unless that person has installed Google Analytics and Webmaster tools installed on their website and there are a ton of companies and websites, that don’t have either installed.

  • http://www.landscapedesign.co.nz Tim Durrant

    We have two types of visitor to our website.
    Visitor a: Has a long session time and long page duration reading information

    Visitor b: Is looking for information fast such as contact details or an answer. In this instance a user may simple go to a page form google search results go to our page and be referred to a new external page that belongs to a client. This produces a bounce.

  • crispy_cadaques

    It’s probably RETURN rate rather than BOUNCE rate that is being taken into account. In fact, more accurately, it’s “SUBSEQUENT CLICK” rate: how many users quickly leave the first web site visited to return to a SERP and click on another listing for the same, or related, search term.

  • http://www.b-seenontop.com Donna Duncan

    I wonder if the term “bounce rate” is confusing the issue…

    Chris introduced his article by describing two very different visitor behaviors associated with a single Google search query. In the first case, a visitor clicks on a result and stays on the landing page a few seconds (if that), returns to the SERP and makes an alternate selection. In the second case, a visitor clicks on a different result and never returns to the SERP. Case 1 has an obviously high bounce rate. Case 2 may or may not, we can’t know unless we have access to the site’s log or Google Analytics report.

    What we do know is that in case 1 Google’s log will show a 2 second or less absence from the SERP and then another exit shortly thereafter from the same SERP. In case 2 we see an exit and no return. So while I wholeheartedly agree that it is entirely possible to satisfy a query in a single page visit, I doubt that can be done in under two seconds. So if Google wants to penalize “teflon” sites because they are poorly designed, irrelevant, slow responding or whatever, I have to say I am OK with that. I think if the visitor found what s/he wanted, s/he’d stay more than 2 seconds and then maybe stick around or go back and refine the query or start over again.

    Thanks for a fun and though provoking discussion Chris!

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

      Thanks Donna, very well put.

    • Jack

      ok..

      When I do search for something, I personally like to open as many relevant links that i find, from those i start puting a bunch of them in my favorites and close the site. later from my favorites i go to the sites and spend time on them.. but most of my initial search is random and fast, there might be alot of amazing sites that i didnt find helpful, so i closed the page fast, but also the ones i liked, i save and close at the same rate…

      so how am i helping with the bounce rate?? I am not..

  • http://www.agence-hyperclics-marketing.com Pierre Frigon

    What bothers me the most is that something called Google is extrapolating things it can’t understand, on such a HUGE scale of reality it can’t phantom, called the human psyche, facing the full blast of human-based reality. As Humans, we’re used to make split-second decisions about thousands of things every second or minute just to cross the street, do window shopping, instinctively respond to colors, shapes and look ahead on future shopping, outlook shopping for family or friends and alike that evolved over centuries of habit-forming behaviours that have proven themselves to better serve our purpose and interests. NOW, Google comes along, as a real reality-crawling device TELLING US what we are doing when we’re bouncing or not and from websites, determining their impact on REALITY it can’t figure out with any base of certainty, let alone reality. If my investment consultant were to invest my hard-earned cash in this stupid way of reading what companies & the stock-market is doing, I’d tell him to go fetch a kite and get out of my business. WHY, ohhh why should we tolerate having such an idiot choose what we CAN or CAN’T do, see, look at -at what ever pace or speed we feel like, based on its need to over-over-simplify complex human choices and behaviours it can’t obviously deal with? The more I read into Google (et al) eternal and on-going search for algo-deducing math cutting-up OUR HUMAN reality, the more I feel diminished, NOT HELPED by Google attempts to “Better Serve my Needs”. Please Google, get out of my hair and that market and transcend this approach of minimizing all of the world’s reality to fit your mindset and world-view of having to control every outcome of our interest in anything, if not in all things. I sure hope that other search-engines will invent other ways of presenting content, based on META-ALGO approaches where we’re left to CHOOSE what we want to see based on what we want to see, be it crap according to Google (et al.) Random search results could even do better than algo-results for that matter… So, help humans stay humans without second-guessing why we breathe, and at what rate, on the SERPs you’re showing us… for you’ll never get it significantly right! IMHO – By the way, I’ve been doing SEO since 1998 and I find it ridiculous the ways Google is going about developing itself by counting the number of atoms crushed by each click to estimate the value of our individual need or interest… and serve us its feedback-derived cold plate of sub-human reasoning it can muster-up about the corporate, industrial or private world visions of WE THE HUMANS, that we’d have to blindly follow into eternal dumbness… WoW… Where’s the exit-strategy to this blinding algo madness? Pierre

    • http://www.resilience.com Rob Mac

      “…counting the number of atoms crushed by each click to estimate the value of our individual need or interest” you say. This reminds me of so many mind-trips going back to childhood or later if you ever got involved with LSD that would make you SEE stuff way down there, on a pin’s head, that could explain everything about everything. I’d tend to agree that human bounce rates done by billions of people on billion of websites can’t be nicely fitted into a single-file of nicely looking and controled intentions, unless you (Google) starts believing in its own spin that it can manage the world’s intention by just mesuring a binary mode of response… If “To bounce or not to bounce IS THE QUESTION…”… What’s the aswer? :-) Treating and serving Humans as furniture or appliances might sound funny but it is not.

  • http://shareholdersportal.co.uk/ Jon Wade

    Bounce rate can only be a factor if time is also a factor. I have some long pages were bounce rate is high (77%) but people spend over 6 minute on the page, on average which suggests to me that they are engaged. You don’t spend 6 minutes looking at a page if you are not interested in the content.

    The problem with bounce rate and pageviews is that it implies that a webpage should never provide a new reader with the information that they want. I am sure news sites have higher pageviews that information pages, but that does not mean that they provide the reader with a better experience, it probably just means they are good at writing catching headlines that people click only to find a few lines of nonsense.

  • David Quaglieri

    There are far too many factors to accurately determine content value based on user behaviours. Personally, I think Google’s +1 will improve ‘content value’ algorythms as long as the Internet community uses +1 and adequate consideration to ‘+1 spamming’

  • http://www.tonyswebbusiness.com Anthony Wiley

    Hi I appreciate the important information. Is there a way to find out if you have a high bounce rate?

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

      Analytics

  • http://marketingtechblog.com Douglas Karr

    If businesses are doing a great job with their content, bouncing may be a natural action taken by the visitor. Think about your use of Wikipedia – a site that Google loves. Most of us search for a topic, find the Wikipedia page, read the topic, and bounce. That’s not because Wikipedia did a bad job… it’s because they did a great job.

  • http://www.oahu-handyman.com honolulu remodeling

    Very true here I personally use these tactics

  • http://www.ableinspector.com Bruce L

    I believe it should be used, but I seem to be in the minority. My site has lots of interesting content, most of my competetors do not. Good content keeps users on the page longer.

    Also, if a page is irrelevant to the search term, it should be ranked lower and time spent on the page is a fair and relevant way to determine if the page is relevant to the search phrase or words.

  • http://freelancewritingnet.com FreelanceWritersNet

    There is no doubt in my mind as to the importance of bounce rates because web content do need to be relevant, interesting and current. It is for this reason that I always maintain that good SEO is great practice. Spammy sites with little or nothing relevant, and only aimed at getting you to sign-up for some over-priced offer will deservedly suffer from a high bounce rate.

  • http://www.blissseo.com.au Mark

    If done correctly I think bounce rates would definitely help put the right sites towards the top. What is correctly, well I don’t claim to have that answer.

    I can’t help but think though that between analytics and tracking cookies they could paint a clear picture of user behaviour. Who goes to a site and stays as compared to a user who goes to a site then returns to the SERP’s for another result.

    Having said that, I could search for something, land on a site then revisit the SERP’s to find another site and have them both open at once for some comparison shopping, this and many other scenarios would have to be covered before bounce rates could be given any significant weight!

  • http://www.ownstlucia.com Cynosure Inc

    To measure bounce rate one requires the GA so how does it measure bounce rate in the absence of this tool. Sure any algo metric should be applied across the board to have sense of value so to me it suggest that is not a factor. Further exting a page from a point of entry is no indication that it has not met its value. I often leave a page from a point of entry because I may have chosen to print the document, save the url via bookmarking or emailing or cut and paste the text so t is aailable offline. This often happens when I’m researching a topic and need to get as much info as possible. As indicated by the many contributors it is impossible to determine my intent or my level of satifaction. The bottom line is that a bounce rate can represent several complex factors which NO algo can measure. No piece of code can determine the user’s intent at the time the search was conducted and any attempt to judge search quality using such metrics is nothing short of ludricous. Google may be well advised to stick to the factors that it understands and can be measured.

  • http://www.website-consultancy.com/seo-cornwall/ Website Consultancy

    It baffles me how any website owner could possibly believe that having a high bounce rate is okay. Particularly, if after checking their analytics package, the bounces are generated from any of the search engines.

    This is where website usability is needed to work hand-in-hand with SEO; it’s okay getting to the top of the search engines, but if your website’s bounce rate is unnaturally high, then surely this is a pointer for the search engines to rate your site negatively.

  • http://www.the-system.org The System

    Bounce rate cannot be used in the algo, using the current Google definition of the term, for all the reasons mentioned above and more.

    What Google can measure is bounceback as an indicator of user satisfaction. It would be very easy to update a counter for every time a user returned to the SERPS from a page within a given time period.
    Quite obviously the results did not satisfy the user which logically means that the SERPS quality was not good enough.

  • http://www.twincitiesdiningguide.com Jim Byrd

    There are many websites that pride themselves in providing specific information quickly. As an example say you are looking for a phone number of a restaurant from PC. My website lists over 4,000 Twin Cities Restaurants so I get lots of quick searches. You come in through one of a thousand pages find your number and you’re gone! Should my site be penalized? How about Google? Often they use my listings and will put the phone number right into the listing so they never need to go to my page. However, it will look like they did not get what they wanted and just left without even making a selection. So should all these SERPs be penalized?

  • http://yahoo.com jena dewolfe

    cyberbullying hurts alot of people. why cant they just it to their faces instead of online? bc then people whould probably believe them :)

  • Bob

    No, it shouldn’t be a ranking signal and that’s one of the reasons Google should be broken up or prevented from gathering such data which can devastate a business. It is silly to use such a noisy metric to rank sites. Analytics should be a different company by itself or data not used to affect site ranking in any way.

  • Harold G.

    Bounce Rate does not, and will not, ever be used as a ranking factor for the simple reason that it is not demonstrative of a negative, or irrelevant visit. A simple example that qualifies the aforementioned is when a visitor hits your home page and sees enough relevant content and imagery to be compelled to call the big, shiny 1-800 number at the top of the site for more information. The visitor got enough relevant information right from the home page thanks to your very focused, well-designed and, again, relevant layout. This happens all the time. Hence, the the number of page views isn’t what’s important; it is the relevance of your content.

  • http://www.replicacafe.com A. Watch

    What figures of bounce rate are deemed good or bad (as per google analytics)?

    I would place a picture of a girl with big tits on homepage to keep customers for a couple of seconds longer.

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