One of the most underestimated and under-valued metrics of any website’s SEO campaign is the site’s “bounce rate”. What does bounce rate mean and why is it important? That’s a great question and one that Google doesn’t help us much with.
Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that open a website and leave before spending an amount of time that is deemed significant by the search engine.
Definition of Bounce Rate
First, we should define the word “bounce” in SEO terms. I believe a “bounce” is when a searcher uses Google to find your site via specific keyword searches and, upon clicking your Google listing for said keywords, immediately (or within a specific time frame that isn’t defined by Google) clicks the “back” button on his/her browser, thus taking the searcher back to the Google listings.
I realize this might sound a little complicated, but it is fairly simple when you consider how search engines work and why a bounce might affect the rankings of a website.
Why Does Bounce Rate Matter?
Essentially, when you think like Google, you’re interpreting actions of users on a massive scale. Google has billions of searches every day. With that amount of data, it can make certain assumptions about users and websites that you might not believe are even possible.
As an example, Google knows that knives are associated with swords. For humans that is an easy conclusion to make, but for a robot that is an incredibly difficult conclusion to make. In the case of Google though, it has seen thousands of web pages with the keyword “knives” and has also seen that many of those web pages also list the keyword “swords”. Ah HA! In the eyes of Google, knives and swords go hand-in-hand!
Why Google Cares About Bounce Rate
Continuing with the “think like Google” theme, imagine a site that Google ranks on the first page of Google for a keyword search. Everyone wants to be on the first page of Google.
Now, let’s imagine that this site ranking on the first page of Google gets a lot of traffic, but most of the traffic leaves the site in 5 seconds or less. A reasonable conclusion would be that the site isn’t a very good site because thousands of people click on the site and 95% of those people leave in 5 seconds or less.
What could they possibly have gained in 5 seconds or less? Google tracks this and monitors the traffic of a site and how users react to the site. If those users are leaving immediately, Google isn’t going to leave that search result on the first page for long because Google’s goal is to provide the top 10 search results for every possible interpretation of a keyword search.
How Does Google Measure a Bounce?
Google doesn’t tell us how they measure a “bounce”. My assumptions are described above, but they are not concrete or perfect. I am constantly reevaluating my theories on the effect of bounce rate.
The reason Google doesn’t define a bounce is that if they did tell us what constitutes a “bounce” most hack-job SEOers would trick Google into thinking their site has a 0% bounce rate. This would eventually lead to a bunch of crap websites on the first page of Google – something Google is obviously battling every day.
Think Critically, Build Naturally
Is it that simple? Yes. Leave the internet marketing and SEO to the professionals and build your site for people. Empathize with your audience. Imagine yourself as a searcher looking for the service you provide.
What kind of message do you want to send in less than 2 seconds? Establish the message and deliver the message immediately. Your bounce rate will plummet and your rankings in Google should last!
Consider the SEO Hermit when it comes to your internet marketing and Search Engine Optimization needs. Contact us today for a free consultation and we can help you increase your conversions and lower your bounce rate.