Bounce rate has nothing to do with springs or sponge balls but is instead is a measure which indicates how people engage with a website. For SEO purposes it specifically tells you how many visitors effectively take one look at your site and then leave, versus how many visitors click through to other pages and take other actions on the website.
Unfortunately, Google, as they do with many ranking factors, keep their cards close to their chest. Despite some statements from their representatives claiming bounce rate doesn’t influence their ranking scores, all test evidence and case studies indicate clearly that it does in some way.
For example, analysis from Wordstream showed that for one particular niche keyword search, websites that had a bounce rate of less than 76%, were more likely to find themselves in positions 1 to 4 if all other factors were equal. However, once that bounce rate got higher than 78%, website rankings were more likely to found at the lower half of the results.
For most SEO purposes, a bounce rate which is less than 40% is considered excellent, 41% to 55% is ok, 55% to 70% is above average, and any bounce rate which is higher than 70% is poor. Given the example we gave above, within certain niches these numbers will vary up or down slightly.
We need to make one thing very clear, and that is that bounce rate is not a measure of how long a visitor remains on your website. This is where some confusion arises amongst website owners as they are unsure whether they should focus on optimising their website to keep visitors on their site for longer, or to encourage them to take a tour through it.
In relation to this you should not sacrifice one against the other. You don’t want to reduce the relevance or quality of any one page nor have excessive prompts to click through to other pages. If a visitor stays on one page for several minutes and then clicks away, that ‘bounce’, is going to have minimal negative impact versus the positive experience the visitor may have had.
If you are concerned that you may have an issue with bounce rate, then you first need to know for sure by installing and checking Google Analytics. Not only will this give you the data you want for bounce rates, but other valuable data you can use to improve the SEO of your website.
Having checked Google Analytics, if you discover your bounce rate is high, there are several ways you can reduce it. Some are at a technical level and others relate to content and visual aesthetics. One of them might have a significant impact, but that does not mean you should not employ them all. Here are some of the most impactful:
Content Relevance: Check that each page of your website has content relevant to the main keyword or keyword phrases you are targeting for that page.
Mobile Responsiveness: Mobile devices account for more searches than desktop so your website must be mobile responsive, otherwise visitors to it will quickly leave.
Loading Times: If your pages are not loading quickly, don’t expect visitors to hang around waiting.
Pop-Ups: If you use pop-ups on your website, use them in a way that doesn’t annoy visitors. This means not using them immediately, and only very sparingly.
Easy Navigation: Just as you would feel uncomfortable driving through a city with no proper signage, the same applies to those visiting a website. The use of menus, clear labels and simple navigation makes a huge difference.
Visually Pleasing: Although looks might not be everything, they do play a huge role in a visitor’s decision to stay or quickly leave. Make sure your graphics are aesthetically appealing.