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How Do Bounce Rates Affect Your Website’s Ranking

digital-marketingGoogle Analytics is a tool many website owners resort to when measuring their website’s rankings analytics. There are several metrics Google takes into account when ranking websites, meaning that metrics can stand for a percentage, a number or even a count of something. The Users metrics, for example, will tell you how many people ended up on your site while Pageviews gives you the exact number of viewed pages of your website.

One metric in particular that we will analyze up close is the Bounce Rate. It is still a controversial metrics among analysts, making it that much more interesting. The Bounce Rate shows how many visitors saw and visited just one page of your website and then left the site completely. In case you’re trying to figure out how to improve your website’s ranking and how these particular metrics affects it, things can get a bit confusing. So, read on if you want these metrics clarified once and for all.

The exact definition of Bounce Rate

In SEO terms, a “bounce” occurs when a searcher Googles a specific keyword and gets your website as one of the search results in the browser. The searcher then clicks on your website, after which they immediately (or after an unspecified time frame) leave your site, clicking the “back” button to go back to the Google browser with the complete listing. This measurement is used to identify if your website provided the searcher with what he/she was looking for.

Implications that come with Bounce Rate

The most important thing to realize is that bounce rate is not a measurement of how much time the visitor spends on your website page. In other words, it remains unknown if the visitor spends 2 seconds or 5 minutes on the page. The confusion arises because many website owners believe it is directly connected with the length of time spent on the page.

Therefore, there are two implications regarding Bounce Rate:

First, the bounce rate is not necessarily bad nor good because it can be explained by several reasons. For example, a mismatch between keywords and your content (or even the page’s purpose) can lead to a “bounce”, not just low-quality content. Also, if there was a bounce from an informational page, it could simply mean that the visitor found what he/she was looking for (Wikipedia is the most obvious example for this). In other words, it doesn’t necessarily say a lot about the quality or usefulness of your website for the visitors.

Second, if you focus too much on the bounce rate, it could hurt the usability of your site. In other words, if you link every page to another one to force a higher bounce rate, you’ll make a mess out of your site. Sure, from the standpoint of analytics, your KPI is great in that case. However, the organization of your website needs to have a clear purpose rather than a pile of pages linked together without an obvious reason.

What is a desirable Bounce Rate?

There is a target percentage beyond which your bounce rate should not go, but it depends on the type of site you have. For example, a rate of over 70% is not good for a blog, event site or news site.  It’s also bad in general when a bounce rate is too high – over 90%, and when it’s too low – below 20%. A bounce rate that’s higher than 90% could indicate a problem with your website (unless it’s brand new) while rate below 20% indicates a problem with the Google Analytics setup.

Still, it’s best to set your baseline than blindly following average percentages. When you manage to bring traffic and engage your visitors, you will get exactly the rate you need.

How to improve your Bounce Rate

There are many ways to improve your bounce rate – some of which you can do on your own and some that should be done by experts. For example, SEO is something you can’t achieve on your own – it’s a complex and long-lasting task that includes many layers. Experts like those in GWM Melbourne make an effort to explain their clients just how many factors affect your website’s position on search engine pages – this is how you come to realize a few keywords won’t close the deal.

However, there are things you could try doing yourself – for example, if you ensure all links to external sites open in a new tab or browser window, you’ll easily improve the Bounce Rate. Also, make sure there aren’t too many annoying pop-up ads, that your site is mobile-friendly, and that it doesn’t take too much time for the page to load. Furthermore, be critical when it comes to the aesthetics of your website – if it’s pleasing for the eye, the higher are the chances the visitor will stay longer. The same goes for navigation – the more intuitive it is, the better.

Website quality and other techniques

Besides the above-mentioned options, there are many other ways to decrease your site’s (too) high Bounce Rate.

To begin with, website quality is the safest way to ensure your visitors will stay for the informative content and other appealing features.

First of all, provide long content, as Google prefers longer posts. Make sure there’s an email list, as well as some YouTube videos because YouTube is a hot platform, no doubt there. If possible, host a few free webinars – they create a lot of traffic. Guest blogs are also a way to connect with others that will be eager to help you just the same, as well as including a lot of internal links that will allow your visitors to get to the pages they’re interested in more quickly. Interviewing people of high profiles from your niche will give credibility to your website – you would be surprised with just how many of them are ready to give an interview. Finally, it’s always smart to post regular comments on social media and add your site to your name.

To conclude

So, the Bounce Rate in itself is not a significant factor when it comes to your website’s ranking. However, it is necessary to compare it to other metrics to get a clearer picture. Even though the Bounce Rate is not a part of Google’s algorithm, the algorithm is updated quite often, and, as no one outside Google knows just how it really looks like, it’s better to keep an eye on the Bounce Rate, too.

Stanislaus Okwor is a Web Designer / Developer based in Lagos - Nigeria. He is the Director at Stanrich Online Technologies. He is knowledgeable in Content management System - Wordpress, Joomla and PHP/MySQL etc

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