Google Answers Bounce Rate Questions

What is Considered a Bounce?

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Some questions about how bounce rate relates to SEO came up over at Webforumz.com, where our own Mike McDonald was kind enough to step in and try to get some answers about. Mike asked some questions to a couple of Googlers, and the following responses are the result of that. This should shed a little light on how Google takes bounce rate into account.

First Mike got a response from Google Search Evangelist Adam Lasnik:

If you’re talking about bounce rates in the context of Google Analytics, I’m afraid you probably know as much as I do. I love the product, but don’t know the ins-and-outs of it very thoroughly.

If you’re talking about bounce rates in the context of Google web search and webmaster-y issues, then we really don’t have specific guidance on bounces per se; rather, the key for webmasters is to make users happy so they find your site useful, bookmark your site, return to your site, recommend your site, link to your site, etc. Pretty much everything we write algorithmically re: web search is designed to maximize user happiness, so anything webmasters do to increase that is likely to improve their site’s presence in Google.

Mike McDonaldMike also sent a few questions to Matt Cutts, who forwarded them to Google Analytics Evangelist Avinash Kaushik, which produced a nice little Q&A:

Mike McDonald: What is the duration for a single page visit until it is no longer considered a bounce when a visitor leaves?

Avinash Kaushik: Bounce is a Visit level metric.

The definition is simple, if there is a Visit (a session technically speaking) with just one page view in it then it is considered a bounce. IE Someone came to your site, saw just one page, did not other action, left your website.

If you want to get a graduate level explanation about bounce rates and a business / marketing perspective on it here it is:


MM: What if a visitor lands on a page, and then visits another page within 5 seconds and then closes the browser. Is that considered a bounce?

AK: No bounce.

Remember time has no bearing on bounce computations. Just page views. In this case there are two page views in a session. No bounce.

The WAA standard definition of bounce rate, and that of Google Analytics, only considers the page view. Time has no bearing on the equation.

MM: When external links are opened in a new window (i.e. target_blank, rel="external", onclick=… etc) is it considered a bounce? Is there any difference between using HTML and Javascript to open a new window?

AK: Depends.

If in your external link popping strategy you are also sending a "hit" back to GA, as in this strategy….


Then the behavior you describe won’t be considered as bounce because you have just sent a "hit" (a page view really) back to GA.

If in your external link popping strategy you are not sending a hit back to GA then if the person comes to your site, clicks on a link to leave the site, then that is a bounce.

Note that with Event Tracking (advanced AJAX, Flash, Flex, Video etc) released by the GA team Analytics can handle a lot more complex scenarios intelligently. Say if I come to your site. Watch the video you did with me at SES and leave. Most tools would consider that bounce. But if you are using GA and have event tracking for your videos (or 100% flash site) then that won’t be considered bounce. In fact GA will accurately compute how long I stayed on your site, how much of the video I watched etc etc.

MM: If opening external links in a new window is considered a bounce, does it change anything if the user then comes back to the site which has remained opened and then starts browsing around?

AK: See above for first part of your answer. It depends on how you have encoded the external links (with ga tracking or not).

For the second part….

A session in Google Analytics (and pretty much every other web analytics tool out there) is "29 mins of inactivity". So I come to your site. See just one page. Go away to say google or whatever. Come back in 15 mins (or under 29 mins). Do another click. That’s still the same session. No bounce.

Hope this helps.

There is definitely some useful information there. To read the rest of the conversation, or to contribute to it, you can find the thread at Webforumz here.

Google Answers Bounce Rate Questions
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  • http://TheBigDesk.com Bruce > The BIG Desk

    Thanks – that clears things up. I always assumed it was relative to time. Things seem to finally be getting more natural. It pays to have pages that visitors will want to explore. i just watched the video (here) on the potential changes coming next year for Google in regards to video content and the downgrading of pure linking for Rank. I encourage all your visitors to watch it (Bruce Clay video).

  • http://www.rygestopguiden.dk/Rygestop-Nikotinprodukter/Nikotintyggegummi-Nicorette-Nicotinell.aspx Nikotin tyggegummi

    I think it is not possible to make it perfect – if so, you have to know what happens in the head of the user.

  • http://www.websitetraders.com Internet Business

    google is considering the visit to home page a bounce no matter how interesting the visitor finds it and how long he stays there. What if you conduct your main business on your home page. just like google. when u visit google.com, you make ur searches on google’s homepage and then many times u dont click on the results…..is that a bounce? wat should webmasters do? make home page an introduction page and make users to click to inner pages for business. This is increasing the conversion chain one step.
    Hope they revaluate the defination of bounce or devalue that algorithm.

    • http://www.freedmaxick.com Eric Majchrzak

      I like and agree with your post. I have always believed that if usability on a website is optimized to its fullest, then there should be no reason why a visitor couldn’t be “converted” to a lead or sale with just a one-page visit to my site. I regularly convert 1-page visitors, which would be considered a bounce by Google…right? Doesn’t a bounce assume a page is not relevant? In many cases for me, it’s the exact opposite. Visitors find my pages via searches, land on a relevant page and find everything they need without clicking through to other pages.

  • http://www.somelifeblog.com Ken Hanscom

    It will be interesting to see how Google continues to try and improve the user experience and limit a lot of the index spamming that can be seen out there.

  • http://myweb.yahoo.com/myweb?ei=UTF-8&dg=0&friendid=C3H8T2XNcenLmZLPF5d56s6uqw-- Top Bookmarked Sites

    That’s great info on bounce rates and I’m sure will clear things up a bit for people. But I want to stress that this does not mean bounce rates are a Google ranking factor.

  • http://googleclassifiedads.com Guest

    Makes Sense, site googleclassifiedads.com get a lot of It.

  • http://www.seoservicesdirectory.org SEO Services Directory

    Don’t be too concerned with your bounce rate if it makes sense. For example, a blog with lot of links to other resources may have a higher bounce rate than shopping site in which multiple pages are viewed in the shopping process, opposed to people clicking on links and exiting the blog. Ultimately, the search engines will judge you more on the ‘happy algorithm’ as stated above. In other words, you will be judged on whether or not people bookmark your site, search for it in the search engines, arrive out of nowhere, etc. So don’t sweat over your bounce rate too much.

    • http://www.antonaf.com Ant Onaf

      You are absolutely right. Not all websites/projects need to be concerned with bounce rates. I have an affiliate site which has no meaningful onsite presence, I completely rely on landing pages which point to external sources. The bounce rate for that site is above 90% — that is just how I like it. Now I have another site which is not an affiliate site or have many external links — the goal of this site is to keep the bounce rate to its minimum because I want the site to be sticky. The bounce rate of this site is approx. 25% which I’ve been working to bring down under 10%.

  • http://www.spyware-fix.net/antivirus-2009-removal.html Antivirus 2009 Removal

    It is important to know this because in another article someone stated that Google was going to begin to use bounce rate as a factor in it’s SERP rankings. I am not sure if it has been constituted yet but it seems almost certain in the future.

  • http://www.trainingreiki.com reiki

    I heard google is going to improve the user experience by allowing users to delete and filter what they dont want to see in the search results.

  • http://www.fromzerotoseo.com/ten-blogs-blogger-should-read/ blogs for bloggers

    The bounce rate is less important than Avg. Time on Site and Pages/Visit. Actually bounce rate is unnecessary metric. It is always 100% then only one page is visited (Pages/Visit equals 1).

  • http://www.lazer-tag.info/ Carrie

    Thank you!

    I was really confused about what was considered a bounce and now it makes perfect sense.

  • http://www.professionalseo.com/ seo company

    One thing I never quite understaood when incorporating the bounce rate into the algorithm is how does Google determine the bounce rate if the site in question does not have analytics or if the surfer does not have the Google toolbar… and if either the surfer or the site has neither of those things then how is it fair to use that as a metric “sometimes”? Seems like yes you could have a random sampling and then extrapolote that (as polls do etc) but it seems hardly scientific enough to form a real opinion on algorithmically speaking.

  • http://www.ultracouturedesign.co.uk Italian leather sofas

    Its still a mind feild to understand Google :) let a lone the speed they keep changing their game!

  • http://acheapwebdesign.com CheapWebDesign

    What I get about Bounce Rate is:
    Any visitor activity after a page visit makes it a non-bounce visit.

  • http://www.professional-mover.co.uk London Professional-mover

    I have website and i have paid too much to seo people… each time they just blame google is hard and hard to get me on top. My website is nice and clean….

    each time seo people says its google take time to get on top…

    kindly see my page and tell em,.


    • bubba9000

      dude, your site is spamming keywords. look at your meta keywords. you have repeated the same word way too much. that’s bad. same problem with the keyword description. that big banner graphic is a huge waste of space; also you are not making good use of the

      tags. you should have more keyword content in the tags. fyi your site looks like it has ZERO seo optimization. oh i guess those sub-pages are the seo work? nooo. there are some misspellings by the way. google also looks for how many other sites are linked to you. try some link sharing with some of your buddies and focus on putting good content at the top of your pages. try and get some positive referrals form past clients.
      good luck.

      • Guest

        Dude, why are u rippin on this dude? If they don’t know anything about SEO and ur rippin on his meta tags and keyword spamming, how does that help them out? What if they got ripped off by some stupid web design company that knows nuthin about SEO but charges 4 it anyway. I know ppl that lost their businesses 2 ppl like that. ease up. Happens all the time…be kind!


  • http://www.freedmaxick.com Eric Majchrzak

    I have always believed that if usability (intuitive) on a website is optimized to its fullest, then there should should be no reason why a visitor couldn’t be “converted” to a lead or sale with just a one-page visit to my site. I regularly convert 1-page visitors, which would be considered a bounce by Google? Doesn’t a bounce assume a page is not relevant? In many cases for me, it’s the exact opposite. Can anyone help me here?

  • Guest

    Adam Lasnik truly is an Evangelist, isn’t he. His answers never say anything. Look at this:

    “If you’re talking about bounce rates in the context of Google web search and webmaster-y issues, then we really don’t have specific guidance on bounces per se; rather, the key for webmasters is to make users happy so they find your site useful, bookmark your site, return to your site, recommend your site, link to your site, etc. Pretty much everything we write algorithmically re: web search is designed to maximize user happiness, so anything webmasters do to increase that is likely to improve their site’s presence in Google.”


    That’s his message. He has no clue on how to do that. All he had to say was:

    meaning a real menu that is the same in all pages. A category like navigation structure always works great. Breadcrumbs do wonders.

    If you do that, bounce rates drop at least 50%. Give people something to click on.

  • Guest

    If a visitor sees an advertisement and clicks the google adsense link on the first page they arrive at, will that be a bounce? I would consider it a conversion and a desired effect.

    Also, I have sites where the goal is to attract visitors with unique content but then deliver the visitor to an affiliate as quickly as possible. Bounce is typically 90% or more. It is also my highest converting sites and biggest earners.

    I believe google views affiliate sites as ‘doorways’ and contain no original content. Google would rather send traffic to the main sponsoring site rather than the affiliate sites. Bounce is a nice way to weed out the affiliate sites as these tend to have high bounce rates. And the main site that an affiliate site redirects traffic to usually has a low bounce rate in comparison.

    If you’re an affiliate marketer, I would seriously look at white-label options as white labels tend to have lower bounce, atleast for me that is so.

    • http://travelsitecritic.com Guest

      If I understand this correctly, “doorway” sites would end up getting GOOD bounce rates for sending people out of them to other sites. I have an affiliate site as well, with content. It seems that if I make all of my links open up in the same window, then my bounce rate will be good? All those junk “doorway” sites will get rewarded for sending people to other pages?

      Good content should keep someone on your page longer, and not necessarily off to another page/site. I think Google should consider the length of time (say if someone is on a specific page for 10 minutes) as a non-bounce. If someone is reading for 10 minutes, they are obviously engaged and getting info. I don’t know about you, but I often read the info I want off of one page, and then hit the back button on my browser. Those sites gave me the info I was looking for, yet Google will penalize them. Am I understanding this correctly!??

  • Michael

    Finally! Someone has answered the “Bounce” question. Keep up the good work wpn!


    • Guest

      Off ur website:

      “Successful Link Trading

      The search engines don’t just look at the content of a web page to determine if it is a good match for a search term. There are possible millions of web pages containing the same keywords, so matching a search term with a page’s content is not enough to build an accurate list of relevant results to a search query. On the other hand, it is not only the number of the links that counts, but also the “quality” of the links.”

      You should probably change this a bit.
      Inbound links count- link trading is BAD. Quality Inbound links are best!


  • http://www.kettlewell.net Matthew Kettlewell

    It’s interesting to see that bounce rate is not time dependent – that tells me that the bounce rate is much less reliable than previously thought.

    I mean, if I have a really great article that matches the keyword search and they spend 10 minutes on that page reading it, and I’ve filled their void then…. my job has been well done – even though it would be considered a bounce.

    My suspicion would be that time on page is more a factor than bounce rate, but Google can only get that if you’re using GA (as far as I know)

    Thanks for filling the void on Googles take on bounce rates.

    Matt Kettlewell

  • http://www.toyotaforkliftsusa.com Forklifts

    SEO has become cloudy recently where people are more concerned with ranking than “the user experience”. Think about it. People like your site, it’s easy to use, it gets links. It’s the same thing search engines such as Google have been saying. I love the comment about keeping the user happy. That’s the main aspect of a search engine. Focus on getting a user from point a to point b as fast as you can. Write information about the point a and make the experience of getting to b easy. That’s it.

    And to London Professional-mover read this above cause your site is obvious spam.

  • http://www.diamondonnet.com/ Diamonds

    Good info, this tells me that bounce rate does not depend on time.

  • http://www.AirportGuide.com Guest

    My site, www.AirportGuide.com has 30000 unique pages, one for each airport, heliport, etc. in the world. My bounce rate is up in the 80% range. In my opinion that is a good thing because it means that when someone is searching for information about an airport, they search in Google and find the direct link to the page with all of the information they need. They answer their question and leave.

    So Bounce Rate really needs to disappear unless they couple it with length of time on the page.

  • http://www.stilfeminin.ro Iulian

    Just a question:

    40% percent of visits, marked as bounced, it is a high rate?


    • http://www.khohar.com Guest

      Please how to improve google page ranking… ?

  • http://randomplaza.com Richard Mongler

    Whenever I google stuff, usually some cloaking site (e.g. webmasterworld) appears at the top of google always. So I click and then it says I have to pay $200 to join to view. But the site cloaks and lets google crawl it all.

  • http://myearnmoneyonlineproject.blogspot.com Yvette Kelly

    Read all these comments and still need to know
    Does my bounce rate affect my ranking?
    also been meaning to bring this up.I have spoken to so many people who say they never get what they are searching for with search engines.Why is it not that when you put in a search for e.g. pretoria pet parlour i will get a thousand results with any of these words in them.Why cant search engines give all the results that have my three search words in running consecutively before giving out all the random ones.I reallise it goes according to how popular those sites are but surely the user needs to be satisfied first before you satisfy all the popular sites.Customer comes first?

  • RSK

    what is the exact formulae

  • http://www.marketingbypermission.com SEO Consultant

    I have a client that we changed her site for the visitor to better understand the site and what to do.. and the bounce rate went down. I suggest anyone wondering what is going on with your visitors to get some heatmap software and put it on your site.

    Contact me for any help.


  • http://www.giveawaylegalforms.com/ Legal Forms

    Very interesting article. Nice to read something about bounce rate that helps you understand it a bit better. I’ve been wondering myself about bounce rate. I’ll check back to read more comments.

  • http://www.dennis-yu.com Dennis Yu

    When I worked at Yahoo on the data team, getting people off the first page of search results was the goal. If they went on to a second page of search results, then they’re not finding what they want. Thus, you’d want to increase bounce rate and decrease session time– sending them quickly off to what they’re looking for. And if they are there longer, it may be because they like the content on the site or just can’t find what they’re looking for. Mr. Kaushik covers this in his “Google Analytics in an Hour a Day” book– you should definitely buy it if you haven’t already.

    So to Ant’s point– yes, it depends on your site’s goals.

  • http://www.professional-mover.co.uk Professional-Mover

    I have website and i like to get on top of search engines…. can anywhen can help to promote my website in London England,


    • Guest

      Yes, it is not that hard to do even if you do it yourself. It just takes a lot of hard work and patience. If not, it takes money and patience (money paid to the right person or company). Please check your email from your website and we’ll talk.


    • http://www.check4ltd.com/ Check4 Ltd

      Hi http://www.professional-mover.co.uk

      Call me next week. We are are an SEO and web search specialist based in Slough near Heathrow airport.

      I can give an idea on what you need to do and essentially what it will cost to achieve your goals.

      Alex Paterson
      0845 6025009

  • http://www.nupokuren.dk/Nupo-Produkter/Nupo-Slankeprodukter.aspx Slankeprodukter

    It is nice to see that Google actually has started to share some of their “secrets”.

  • http://www.rti-ngo.org/ Shailendra Sial

    Good post. extremely knowledgable

  • http://www.tattooexit.com/ kad?k


  • http://www.marketingminefield.co.uk MarketingMinefield.co.uk

    The problem I have with bounce rates being factored into search engine rankings is that in my opinion having a high bounce rate isn’t always a bad thing. I know many blogs for which people tend to only view the home page, read the latest article, and then leave. Yet the content being displayed is excellent.

    • Jeff m

      bounce rates don’t affect organic rankings, that I know of.

  • http://www.donnykapahang.com/ Donny

    Thank you so much! these article is a very usefull post that i really need so bad. Thanks again

  • http://www.indiaseoconsultants.com SEO Consultants India

    It is very interesting to read the bounce rate discussions. It does answer several questions which I had.

  • http://www.spec-india.com Rupesh Patel

    Really Great Information, this make clear understanding of bounce rate.


  • http://irfanmirza-seo.blogspot.com Irfan Mirza

    I think bounce rate is just depend on the nature of your site, if your site theme is entertainment then your bounce rate is very low and if you selling products (third party)or re-directing then your site bounce rate is going to be very high side. And also depend how you optimize your site (i.e try to gain targeted visitors).

  • http://blog.texxsmith.com texxs

    The title of the Article isn’t very accurate. /maybe it should “Google refuses to answer . . .”

    we really don’t have specific guidance on bounces

    The stuff they did answer was answered incorrectly ie it’s NOT abounce if they click a link, but Google says it is. Hopefully this is just was just mispoken and google isn’t going to count vistit one page and then click and leave as a bounce. because it’s very clearly not.

    What’s up with the different definition of a bounce if you use GA.

    Can’t we put them out of business yet. they sooooo don’t know how to do search!

    Also a session isn’t a period of inactivity. A session is a period of activity. duh!

    Why even interview the folks from google? they are just lying and/or wrong 99% of the time.

  • http://www.check4jobs.com Alex

    I run a job search engine www.check4jobs.com. Google constantly moves our search terms about. For example ‘job search’ is listed on page 2 for a long time. Suddenly google moves it to page 10 or worse.

    We also have pages indexed into google such as http://www.check4jobs.com/jobs-in-luton

    Google lets this link sit on page 1 for terms like jobs in luton but then suddenly bombs us back to page 6.

    I notice that other sites are much more consistent in the listings than us and Google keeps them pretty much in the same place. Our bounce rate is sometimes very high as they are generic listings so users may not find a specific job without re searching stating the type of job they are looking for.

    Can anyone tell me for sure that Google is punishing us for having a high bounce rate or is there another explanation.

    Alex Paterson

  • http://www.w7b.org Webmaster

    The Article was really helpful for me. I was wondering what a bounce rate is in Google Analytic and found no such information which can clear me.

  • http://www.applyingtoschool.com College Admission

    What is considered to be a good page rank?

  • http://www.debatethefuture.com Greg

    I will go and setup a search box on my site now and see what goes on!

  • http://www.tmondo.com Games

    I learned quite a lot about bounce rate after reading this great article.

  • http://www.fleming-law.com/3-1_practice-area.cfm?pa=Securities%20Fraud Securities Fraud Attorney

    Ok well if bounce rate isn’t time related then why his own blog does he say that it’s one of the two factors.

    ” * The percentage of website visitors who see just one page on your site.
    * The percentage of website visitors who stay on the site for a small amount of time (usually five seconds or less).

    Clarification please Google. Also if Google is going to define Bounce rates in a manner that is to benefit the actual site operator, they may want to let the analytics user determine whether time or pages visited determines a bounce. For example if I use landing pages for different types of cases (security fraud, personal injury, etc) then my users wouldn’t have the NEED to click on additional links…especially considering most contact us by phone so they may never click the contact form.

    I think Google has started changing their algo’s and value placement functions (i.e- personal/universal search bs) for the sake of changing them to appear “fresh”, not because the bounce rates or search results are indicative of a better quality search return or conversion rate. One size does NOT fit all.

  • http://www.nimblead.com Brian Kaldenberg

    Avinash is really knowledgeable. It is information like this that helps you wow clients on sales presentations.

  • http://www.straightalk.biz STRAIGHTALK

    and really good to know stuff have just feed it to my viewers.. thanks !

  • http://www.partnersearch.blog.co.in partner search

    This is very great article
    i will now cheke in the analytics about my bounce rate

  • http://blog.webdirectory.si/ Aris at blog.webdirectory


    And I’m still not using google analytics. Perhaps now is the time I start using it. Will see if it really helps…

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