Is Bounce Rate a Google Ranking Factor?

Either Way, You Should Pay Attention to it

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Bounce rates are a metric that may become more of a factor as SEOs struggle with the ever-changing world of SERPs, which some are predicting to be become much more personalized over the coming year. As discussed in an interview with Mike McDonald (video below), big name SEO Bruce Clay notes that going forward, SEOs are going to have to look at analytics, measure traffic, bounce rates, action, etc., and ask themselves questions like did I get the conversion I was after?

A post today from SEO Black Hat seems to indicate that bounce rates are already a significant factor in ranking. They provide the following screenshots showing Google Analytics data for a "white hat" site (click any of them to view the larger versions at SEO Black Hat:

Overall Traffic

Google traffic
Google Traffic

bounce rates
Bounce Rates

Hmm. See any correlation there? "This is exactly the pattern you would expect from a program designed to flush out terms with higher bounce rates and test them across other sties," writes the post’s author QuadsZilla. "Moreover, this isn’t the first time I’ve recognized this pattern, it happens every 2-3 months on average." Quadzilla then notes the absence of any such information in Google’s SEO starter guide, but points to a few cluews in the Analytics support page.

So, maybe bounce rates are something that you should be worried about. In all honesty, you should’ve been worried about them anyway, if nothing more than to keep people at your site. Nevermind if they got there through Google. The following video from SES a few months back goes over some Bounce rate information as Mike talks to Avinash Kaushik, author of Web Analytics: An Hour a Day, and Google Analytics group manager Brett Crosby.

Jason Miller offers some additonal insight based on the video, and Quadzilla is promising some tips on reducing bounce rates in the future.

Is Bounce Rate a Google Ranking Factor?
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  • http://www.seochester.co.uk/search-engine-optimisation.html SEO Services Chester

    I think bounce rate has been a ranking factor for a long while now.

    To put this simply (which I think it is)…. When Google records someone’s search for say "seo services" and they select a top ranked site, then bounce back to SERPS and select  another of the listings and NOT return to SERPS to select another choice – this gives ranking weight to the second site and a negative to the site that was bounced back off for the term "seo services". It clearly lets google know that the first site clicked on wasn’t a good offering for the searcher. Obviously this is all tiny but when a pattern emerges the bounced site will definately loose some ranking weight for the term "seo services".

    IMHO :)

  • http://www.medicultau.com/dieta-nutritie/cosmetica/chirurgia-estetica/index.php Medicul Tau

    Not as important as it once was as a ranking factor, but still necessary on a well, anyway was masiv changes in last few months.


  • http://www.realstudio.ro RealStudio Webdesign

    this realy only depends on what our webpage is all about. a newspaper or blog needs daily readers so fidelity is important, whereas when you sell cars or sports gear you only get the majority of customers to visit you a couple of times before each purchase …

  • KO Web SEO

    I guess time on page would count too? Add a video to keep folks there longer? My staff all had our home page on the PC as default, I guess that was a bad idea.


  • http://www.thelostagency.com David

    ive noticed for my clients that the decrease bounce rate is closely aligned with an increase in SERPs… its not a perfect correlation but Google understands how long people are viewing your site and rewards quality sites with higher rankings, which also bring more engaged visitors….

    its a great cycle, so working on getting your bounce rate down to the so called perfect 30s range is something most sites should be working on, but the downside is that if u only look at one page and leave it may still count as a bounce…. google news links anyone????

  • Silversurfer

    Although I agree that bounce does factor rating, I do not believe it should. I think that many times people will visit several sites just to compare – I know I do. I may look at the top ranked site, then visit 3, 4 or more lower ranked sites just to compare information, prices, availability, etc. etc. of what I am searching for, and then go back to the site that addressed my need the best. 

    Of course I am not out to damage the credulity of any site, but I realize that some sites are better than others, whether ranked high or not, and I want to view all my options; albeit, bouncing around like that does them no good.

    It’s good to know if people how long people are sticking on your site, but not so good if this is used to determine your ranking.

    • Stevo

      I agree bounce rate and time spent on site are good indicators of quality content.  This even applies to quick visit searches because the bounce/time values are being measured in context of the search phrase.

      Example 1: I search for news on SEO topics.  With this type of search I am more likely to spend longer on a page and follow links to other articles.  So bounce rates/average time spent can be compared between various sites in that context.

      Example 2: I am looking for prices for a new radio alarm clock.  I dip in and out of 10 sites.  Bounce rates/valid time spent is still valid.  The time I spend on the site is related to the range of products available.  If not much there or its a struggle to find then I dip out.  If I find the clock I want I visit 6 pages and spend 5 minutes filling in purchase transaction information. 

      Providing bounce rates and time spent is recorded within context of the search phrase then they are a strong indicator of content quality.

  • http://realestate103.com Real estate agent

    How Google could even know about our site’s bounce rate if we do not use Google Analytics? They couldn’t. So sayin’ it is a factor that (among others) determine our SERP’s position is a little bit ridiculuous…

  • http://www.softoolsme.com Skand Bhargava

    What if a site is not using Analytics? Is Google still counting bounce ?

  • http://www.moonlightsales.com/ Moonlight Entertainment

    This is very interesting! Since Google, Yahoo, AOL, MSN and other high ranking sites are mainly gateways to other sites, and average time is mostly only related to search, does this mean that the potential of their positioning in the search engines themselves will be cut down to a lesser ranking?


  • http://www.articlemajoris.com Article Directory

    Bouce rate has been a factor for a while now and I believe it will remain a factor for a long time.

    It’s a way for Search Engines to check whether the sites that they are ranking on their SERPs are relevant to what the users are searching for. If a site has very high bounce rate, it’s a good indicator that it’s not what the users are searching for and search engines will remove them from ranking sooner or later.

  • http://www.professionalseo.com/ SEO Company

    While no one except a few insiders can say for sure, the consensus among SEO consultants is and has been for a while now that it does matter. How much it matters is an open question but it’s likely that site "stickiness" will play an ever increasing role in determining SERP’s

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

    It probably is a factor but its one of the many factors that determine if your content is good or not.  We just have to make sure that our content is good and that the title and description is spot on.  Which is what we ought to be doing anyway.

  • http://www.fleurtations.uk.com Graeme

    Thank you for this insight it actually makes perfect sense, the problem of course, is just how much weight Google places on this aspect? It becomes yet another piece of the jigsaw with it’s 200 or so pieces, I wonder if we will ever be able to actually quantify this particular influence?

    Site age is also another interesting topic.

  • http://www.nvisolutions.com Guillaume SEO

    I think it’s been pretty obvious that bounce rate can have an impact on rankings, especially if you are going through a Google search and searching over and over with similar keywords.

    What I’d like to focus on is about Social Media… Digg, Reddit, SU, Del.icio.us, Mixx, Propeller and other send tons of traffic to the top sites in the world, like CNN / FOX / TechCrunch / YouTube / etc., yet those sites rank higher and higher every day and are positively affected by "high amounts of traffic with very very very high bounce rates". Imagine if you are FlickR – it should tank like hell… People look at the picture 5 seconds and then they are gone.

    So, for me, if higher bounce rates would have an impact, and if we would apply a direct correlation, any site "hit" by social websites would tank as we know most of those visitors have a pretty high bounce rate as they usually read an article and then come back to the social site in question.

    So this whole theory is more of a joke than anything.

    On another side, you could easily figure that Google knows what is the average time people look at articles on each of the social sites (Digg, etc.) and then give some sort of correlation, but then text article, video article, image articles would have different numbers.

    All in all, what is your opinion regarding getting huge loads of traffic with those sites? I have been doing it for several months and never ever saw any ranking issues (beside positive impacts) on more than 50 sites – so I tend to say this is just speculation, especially regarding the "bounce rate %" taken alone into consideration.


  • http://www.accreditedroofing.co.uk/home.html Guest

    Well ,i dont think too highly of bounce rate ,or googles Anaylistics in general ,ive watched my average time go backwards every day for 3

    weeks ,knowing for a fact should be going up ,..i know theres lots of

    20mins+ spent on site ,still going down ,…i was PR2 i then revamped

    site ,rich with Googles desires ,got over 300 back links ,and dropped

    to PR1 ,…im the only roofer in my city with any PR ,im number one spot

    on all related searchs ,but remain PR1 ????  As for bounce rate what

    are they measuring here ?

  • http://www.fishni.com Tourist

    I tend to agree that bounce rates are already a factor and will become more important in the future as the engines move to a somewhat more personalized model for searches.

  • http://www.underachieverseo.com/ UnderachieverSEO

    Bounce rate will NEVER be a ranking/SERP factor. First of all, not all webmasters use google analytics. Although there are many other ways to collect data about visitors activity (like GToolbar, FF and Chrome) this information covers no more than 50% of the sites.

    Secondly, what happpens to blogs? Blogs usually have high bounce rate which is easily explained, by the fact that loyal users come to the blog (usually comeing from RSS reader), read the newest article  and leave.

    I got some sites (not blogs) that have more than 70% bounce rate and they have good SERP for many keywords.

  • http://www.arucc2006.com Article Man

    Yes, if you ask me bounce rate always has been a ranking factor, i have personally exprienced but never had the courage to believe it, but it seems my fears are coming true, i have seen it pretty happening all over my niches…when visitors stay on your site the serps for that particular keyword seems to get some kind of kick….bounce rate is directly dependent on the content quality which means when someone says content is king….that factor seems to be reinforced with the bounce factor being considered as to keep visitors on your page for long and keep hitting around one needs to have quality content and nothing else…seems to be true

  • http://www.lewiscom.ca Vancouver Web Design

    Regardless of how Google looks at bounce rate now, we can all be assured that they will constantly be adjusting and massaging as they move forward.

    If you are looking at this issue purely from a ranking perspective you are missing the boat.  Bounce rate should concern you on the basis of conversions, not search engine placement. 

    If you are selling a product or a service, build the site so that visitors are given a clear path of relevant information that leads to a conversion page.  This will improve bounce rate and ensure better conversions.  Luckily, doing this will also improve the way Google indexes your site content (they claim to always be working towards rewarding clear, easily found, relevant content).

  • Convergence

    As long as Google can tell the difference.

    There are plenty of legitimate business models out there who’s business is to bring people into their site and get them to travel to another site, ie:  directories, ad links, etc – 

    Closing the browser window on your website is one thing – moving from a page on your website to another website is an entirely different matrix and should not be used in a ‘ranking’ algorithm.

    • Guest

      Is exit rate counted as part of the bounce rate? because i am in same boat, i have to link out to a 3rd party software for my database.

  • http://www.how2makeawebsite.com How to make a website

    Thank you WPN for a great article and video. Its a real treat to know the Google insides.

  • http://easyadshowplace.com Glenn Witmer

    I do not think it should be one of the top factors, I know i always visit several sites and compare information and prices, and then go back to the one that seems best 

    • Guest

      Right, but what you are missing is that Google is not a shopping directory.

      Their primary goal is to help you find information (not just products and prices) fast.

      If your site is giving meaningful information to your users, then it creates a positive “perception” in the visitor’s mind about Google’s effectiveness, which, is the ultimate goal for them.

      The visitor is happy and returns to Google next time he needs something, so Google is happy and keeps sending you more visitors.

      If it is the other way around, you will see your traffic bounce back as well.

      We’ve seen this pattern literally hundreds of times.


  • http://americanselfdefenseproducts.com Sharon Guerrazzi

    Thanks for all the information on this!  I’ve been wondering about the Bounce Rate for some time now and really had no clue if it was all that important.  Most of my adwords link directly to a specific product page, therefore I have a higher bounce rate since people only need to look on one page for the item they are looking to purchase.

  • http://willtaft.com Will

    On a blog many people find the site with a search for specific information.  Typically they read the article they found, then move on to the next search result.  Usually people are looking specifically for the info they land on.  They don’t usually start reading all sorts of other posts on the site.  Penalizing for this sort of traffic does not make sense.

  • http://www.cheapwristbands.com Bobj

    I would also like to know the answer to this question: What if a site is not using Analytics? Is Google still counting bounce ?

    • http://my.ceogolfshop.com CEOgolfshop golf shirts

      If you are not using Google Analytics, or some other program that is part of a network that measures site traffic in any way, I don’t see how they could know.

      So the question becomes, is it wiser to run your own internal stats program only, so that no outside agent (ie google et al) has access to data that it could then use to undermine your SEO efforts?  Like databases on people, I think the databases on web sites are growing. The impact of how this data is used is likely to benefit sites that are spending ad dollars or have big traffic.

      In my quick checks of sites I have with over 60% bounce rate,  referred traffic is steadily down over a 12 month period.  The reverse is true for sites with less than 50% bounce rate. Too many factors to say this was the cause, just thought I’d share.


  • http://www.calvinweinfeld.com Calvin Weindfeld – Lorne Park Real Estate

    I think you need to concentrate on conversion, if your site is about sales, then work to improve sales.

    If you site derives revenue from advertising, then improving bounce rate may be more important.

    But if I can get a person to my site, give them exactly what they want in one page and make the sale, then I did best job possible.  Why would I encourage someone to look at more pages, when they want o buy now.

    • GiggleGirl

      Good point, except I’d be interested in learning how one takes a user through to a completed sale all off of one page.  I go to your site, I like your price, and I buy, all from one page?  Impossible if I have any understanding of how the purchase process works on the Internet.  I’d love to hear your response…please prove me wrong.

  • http://www.ko-websites.com Bay area web design

    I think we’ll find that bounce rates only count for the index (home) page. I think it’s a plus if visitors are coming in to sub-page directly, even if hey leave that way.

  • http://www.newsvend.com Newsvend

    So I don’t get it.

    The Google and Overall visits to the site in your example dip as the bounce rate decreases?

    Surely this is proving the opposite to the theory being expoused.





  • http://www.guruproductlaunch.com Guru Product Launch

    oh absolutely.. high bounrce rates are interpreted as less relevant content to search phrase, from experience getting bounce rates of even 50 percent or less tend to work in your favor and get you better rankings

    the key to succeeding on search engines is not to fight it but to understand how they work and what purpose they serve.. relevance is key

  • http://www.xivos.com Melbourne Marketing

    I think bounce rate does play an important role, but it’s also not a matter of high bounce rate = poor quality page, depending on the industry. After all if a user is going to a deep page, they may find exactly what they are looking for and move on. As for tracking, it would be possible for Google to track the back button clicks, returning to their own results, wouldn’t it? Regardless of whether the site has G analytics or not?

  • http://www.yourtrustedtradesmen.com/# ytt12

    Been following the thread must say though a little over my head.

    Bit i looked at my google analytics and all the bounce rates are at around 1.29 0r 0.00 so i presune thats good.

    Cheers Mick  

  • http://www.zoonsky.com/ Zoonsky

    Is the graph supposed to be evidence that Google "tests" our sites by removing the SERPs it thinks leads to high bounce rate sometimes?

    I wish he explained a little more about what led him to that conclusion to start with.. apart from that graph, whihc proves very little by itself that I can see.



  • http://blog-gardeningandlandscaping-info.blogspot.com dhablue

    I know google has already the technology to modify the personalized search results why not do it for regular SERPs ??

  • http://www.squidoo.com/why-does-my-computer-freeze-up why does my computer freeze

    How exactly does Google record the bounce rates?  Doesn’t a specific code have to be installed on your webpage?  Maybe I am missing something here.

  • http://www.theaets.org Guest

    Google can track bounce rates from analytics code and alkso if you have the toolbar downloaded.

  • Guest

    What would be considered a high bounce rate?

  • http://www.technicalsupportworld.com/ Computer Support

    Agree, one should add bounce rate as one of the important metrics. Every change made in homepage or any other landing page can be related to the bounce rate.

    A low bounce rate proves the you have quality site and visitor wants to explore more of it.

    But if you have affiliate site or displaying adds then you can go with high bounce rate but it should show in ur increase in revenues

  • http://www.dhwall.com DH Wall

    Did you see the waitstaff in the background of the video carrying those huge mugs of beer?  Is Bruce Clay trying to send us a subliminal message that we need to start drinking more beer?

    Forget SERPs, Google results are turing into BURPs.






    Drink ‘em up.


  • http://www.techjaws.com Frank J

    Not sure if this article is accurate over bounce rate and here’s why:

    Most blogs have content on the main page (index.php), and in this case a visitor leave from that main page which will increase the bounce rate. In my estimation this doesn’t weigh in the overall pagerank, but incoming links do.

    Hopefully I made a valid point.

  • http://hubpages.com/hub/Smithfraud-Removal Smithfraud Removal

    Bounce rate is not always an accurate guage of user experience.  Often times if you have a lot of untargeted visitors this can lead to high bounce rates.  But this doesn’t mean your content isn’t solid.

  • http://www.tmondo.com tmondo

    Hmm bounce rate is not at all an issue for me at least for me… my bounce rate is less than 30 percent.

    • http://yesupseo.com Brad Lombardo

      There are a number of reasons for high bounce rates off of organic search traffic, including a relatively weak website design and layout or organic traffic which is not really that relevant (this could be due to relatively weak keywords on which the site is optimized).

      In the world of SEO, I guess one of the main questions is: how well is the site traffic you are receiving actually converting into phone calls or contact or appointments or sales or whatever it is that you call a conversion?

      Brad Lombardo

  • http://www.daxii.com Daxii

    Bounce rate is a good indicator of website quality, but it is hard to get for all websites.

    if a website does not run analytics, how google can calculate it??


  • http://yahoocash4idiotshere.com Philip

    On one of my websites, there is a bounce rate of 40.32% and it’s filled with a bunch of good quality information. But then I have another website that has a bounce rate of 76.23% and it’s filled with not so good content.

    I guess the better the content, the lower the bounce rate ?

  • http://www.pinnaclepromotions.com RobW

    A lot of users come to our site looking for a certain product, but bounce because we sell in bulk and not individual products. So we get a high bounce rate on some individual product pages. Any suggestions?

    • http://www.acoolkid.com/cat-kids-adirondack-chairs.cfm Kids Adirondack Chairs

      If I were shopping for individual promotional items and found your site with mostly (or all) bulk items I would think I’d stay longer and dig deeper if you tell me everything I need to know about an item. One, you’ll increase the on-page key phrases and two, you give me a reason to stay and read more. Maybe try building an “additional information” page for products with high bounce rates. Then link to these new pages from the main product page with either an atractive graphic, or a “more information about xyz here” link. Experiment with one high bounce rate page and see it it works. It probably won’t increase sales, but it might lower your bounce rate therefore making your site more attractive to G on the subject matter.

  • http://www.brandmantra.net Website Design Custom Web Development

    Bounce rate doesn’t seem to be a factor for SERP. And securing the top SERP is the most important factor for attracting visitors.

  • http://www.direito2.com.br Ruben Zevallos Jr.


    Very nice video… I like a lot the info

  • http://www.pr-interactive.com web design company

    I really don’t think it does, i think pagerank is more based off of the size of your website page wise.

    Check out my Florida web design company, my website design portfolio and learn more about my web design companies website

    • Guest

      I use a 3rd party software as my online catalog. So my site has to link out to my catalog (different URL).
      When a user comes to my site and immediately clicks the catalog link, is taht considered part of the bounce rate?

  • http://www.hostingref.com/ Hosting Ref

    I have been wondering about bounce rates as a ranking factor. There are several sites that I have been tracking with a 3rd party tracking tool (no Google analytics on the sites) and I have noticed a few things:

    – Sites with low bounce rates rank better.
    – Sites with more content rank better.
    – Sites where the user stays on the site for a long time rank better.

    There are certain sites that can accomplish all of these easier than others. For example, a 2,000 page e-commerce site can accomplish all three easier than a 10 page site whose content never changes. But Google shouldn’t penalize the 10 page site over the 2,000 page site IMHO. For example, why should a service orientated person need a 2,000 page site? They probably don’t have the time to maintain such a site or can afford someone to do this.

    The problem is how do you do this so that it doesn’t become a full time job for each site?

  • http://blog.mobilerainbow.co.uk Perry Williams

    Dear Chris, I have gone through the complete post and discussions in the comment section. Actually you are right about the complete bounce rate theory. I wants to know about “How to decrease bounce rate of our Blogs?”.

    If my website’s bounce rate is around 75-80% but website is performing well with respect to no. of sales and revenues. Then what should i do? I have to go for decreasing Bounce Rate or it’s fine if i am getting what i want.

  • TonyB

    We have a http entry page that is the starting point for customers using our SaaS application. When people hit that page they are immediately being “bounced” to our https secure application, and currently there is no google tracking code on our application pages. The entry pages are therefore being considered bounces.

    Q. Would placing tracking code on our https application effectively decrease this bounce rate?

    Anything else we should consider here?

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