Bounce Rates and SEO – Revisited | Web Development Services by Ed Nailor
Recently, a reader made a comment on my post about Why Bounce Rate Matters to SEO. The reader referenced an article online that stated that bounce rates having an impact on SEO rankings was a misconception. They cite in the article that Google has even said they do not use the bounce rate gathered from Analytics as part of their ranking data. The thought is that if you are looking for an answer to a question, you may in fact find that answer on the page you land on and not go any further into the website.
These are interesting points, and while I do see what they are trying to say, I still must disagree with the wholesale idea that bounce rates don’t have any impact.
Search engines are in the business of making money. They make money on ads. They sell ads because people keep coming back to the search engine. The people keep coming back because they trust the results given to them. If the search results were not effective, the people would stop coming, and it all falls apart.
So it is logical that a website with a high bounce rate, especially when they are bouncing back to search results, would be seen as a site that doesn’t quite measure up for some reason. It could be that the search engine misjudged the content, it could be a bad design that makes it hard to find what you thought would be there, or one of many other reasons. However, if your website is ranked in the top results and has a high bounce rate, especially when someone reaches the site as a referral from the search engines, there is no way that website will remain that highly ranked… the people are telling the search engine that the site does not match their search!
Now it may be true that Google does not use the specific data from the Analytics for ranking. But I would almost guarantee you that their own metrics they run from the Google serps page do include how often users bounce back from the results to look for something else. So a webmaster using the bounce rate as a measuring stick is a very valid concern for SEO.
No one will ever have a 0% bounce rate. Too many variables, including actually finding the information someone is looking for on the page they land on. But a lower bounce rate does indicate that a website keeps users engaged more on the website than one with a higher bounce rate. And since search engines, especially Google, are really concerned with user experience when they refer a user to a website, this is indeed something website owners should be concerned about.