Stop that Bouncing!

beach-ballI’m bouncing around the web again. I’ve been searching for the latest news on American Idol’s Adam Lambert and haven’t found a great deal of worthwhile information–at least information that encourages me to stay on the site for more than 30 seconds.

If you’re regularly checking your website analytics, you’ve looked at your bounce rate. “Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page visits (i.e. visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page).” (Google Analytics).

A high bounce rate is bad. Some folks may, unknowingly, increase their bounce rate as they increase their traffic. This leads to reports showing wonderful increases in traffic, but no increase in sales–no added profit. (Note: Be careful about SEO companies who only promise traffic.) Bounce rate is a fundamental statistic that is affected by both SEO and Conversion.

Think of a bouncing beach ball. This is your potential customer. Your website is where that beach ball lands. If the landing is too hard, your visitor leaves in a jiffy. Thus, one key to keeping your visitors on your website (a longer visit provides a host of advantages, including: a longer branding experience, customer feedback, and increased conversions, to name a few), is by a soft landing.

Create a soft landing with better Conversion:

  • promote UGC (user-generated content)
  • include more videos
  • include more images
  • quality design
  • quality and quantity of content

Bounce rate is also heavily affected by SEO. It’s one thing to get traffic, but a much better thing to get targeted traffic.

Targeted traffic = decreased bounce rate

Bounce rate vs. Google

Much has been said about your site’s bounce rate versus Google rankings. I believe Google’s algorithm accounts for bounce rate. Rather than boring you with my opinion, here’s a few articles in the bounce rate vs. google discussion:

Proper keyword research with relevancy at its premise prevents a high bounce rate. Don’t stuff your title tag and meta description with language that is deceitful, over-exaggerated, or irrelevant. Bounce rate is an important statistic–just as important as traffic.

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  1. Garry says

    Are you saying that a “bounce” is purely a one page visit? Doesn’t it take into account the amount of time spent on the page? The reason I ask is my site has a high bounce rate, but that’s because most visitors come for one reason which is usually satisfied on that page. However, I have pretty good search engine results for the site.

    Overall, I understand the concept, but it seems rather shallow unless they are also looking at time spent on the page.

  2. Dave Bascom says

    Good point, Garry. Bounce rate should not be the only metric that you look at, or you’ll miss the big picture. Many sites are designed to only generate one page view. If you get 50% of your customers calling you after a single page view, the site is probably making you a lot of money, so a high “bounce rate” is fine. However, cases like this are the exception, and in most situations, a high bounce rate is a signal that something isn’t working right. Either you’ve got the wrong people coming to the site who aren’t interested, or your offer isn’t right for the audience, or you’re not presenting the offer in the right way. As you make the adjustments to improve these things, bounce rate will improve as will the overall effectiveness of your site.

  3. Allen says

    This is a very interesting topic: on one hand you don’t want to be penalized for users finding what they need right away, and on the other hand user friendliness is defined as such. As Garry pointed out, his conversions are high on 1 page, so bounces are not defined as lost conversions in this case.
    My question is this: if you have a multiple page site and have a page that is a resource for quick info that is unrelated to the rest of your website (but is still useful content) is the high bounce rate on the page worth the traffic, or is the rest of your site penalized by Google for the bounce rate for that 1 page. Is high bounce rate on 1 page worth the added traffic?

    • David Scoville says

      Hi Allen, thanks for the comment. I took a glance at your site–I admire the fact that you’re pushing “green”.

      About your question, Google is a lot smarter than we think. Useful content is still useful content. Yes, bounce rate plays an effect but it is probably not big enough to hurt your site’s rankings when you are displaying “quick reference” useful content. Real useful content is “link-thirsty” i.e. you’re bound to get backlinks from it. Thus, Google will probably overlook your high bounce rate because of the number of backlinks you’d get.

      Keep in mind, your example situation is not very likely. If I’m searching for quick information and I find it on your site from searching Google, then I’m probably not going to hit the back button to find a better site with the same information. Once I’ve found my information, I’m done searching for that topic… no bouncing. I might reiterate something that will probably never change in SEO: Content is King.

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