Bounce Rate – How important is it to Google?

Whilst Google is very secretive of just how much weight any one factor has in influencing rankings, at the WordPress SEOGuys we assert that bounce rate is now a major factor in their algorithm.

What is bounce rate?  It’s the rate that people come across your website in Google searches and go “Hello!  That seems to be what I’m after!”…. then click through to your site and it turns out no… you aren’t what they are after so they click back out.

Many factors can influence bounce rate including

  1. Initial impression. Catchy design?  Is the site overly complex? Is it clear what your site is about?
  2. How fast is your site? People back out of slow sites – fast.
  3. Is your site actually about what they want?

These I have listed in order of importance.  People will judge your site in seconds.  If they think it’s no good?  Then they will leave before they even find out if you offer the products or services they are looking for.
Bottom line is no SEO company can overcome a poor bounce rate, they can only help you address it.

Having a fast loading, easy to navigate site is now super important to rankings.

I want to show one funny example that is an “exception” to this rule.  Ok.  If you are shopping for clothing, in Australia, using Google Australia…. You probably are looking to buy from an Australian online store right?  More chance the goods will arrive, if they don’t you have a better chance of recovering your money etc, so when searching for clothing, Google.com.au will generally return Australian results.

Google knows, if they instead present clothing stores from overseas, their users will back out quickly, creating a high bounce rate for those sites for those searches in Australia… so the public clearly doesn’t want those results so why show them?

So here is that exception to the rule

https://www.google.com.au/?gws_rd=ssl#q=yoga+pants

At No.2 (It’s been No.1 for most of the last 5 years) is Girls in Yoga Pants.  It’s not an Australian site, they sell yoga pants… so you’d think they’d have a high bounce rate right?  How are they ranking so high?  Well.. the thing is?  They show lots of photos of girls in Yoga pants… and these images have the effect of reducing their bounce rate.  People who search for Yoga pants, men and women, who find this site are not quick to stop viewing the images.

Thus the site has a low bounce rate, sending a signal to Google that when people search for “Yoga Pants” in Australia, local shopping is not the only factor…. People want to see “bums in Yoga Pants!”

So if your site has a poor bounce rate (I would say anything over 30% is poor) how can you fix it?  Well, let’s start with how you CAN”T fix it.

  1. Won’t effect your bounce rate.  Links send a message to Google about your site popularity that Google cross checks with your bounce rate.  If your link profile is high and your bounce rate is poor?  Google will dismiss your links as likely inaccurate.
  2. You can have GREAT content on your inner pages, and still have a high bounce rate because people just don’t get past that home page.

Bounce rate in our experience can be dealt with by

  • A more inviting design,
  • Much simpler navigation(people hate loads of links)
  • Improving page speed (improve everything, be as fast as you can be)
  • Something to grab their attention right from the get go. Real them in!
  • Make sure your tablet and mobile versions are good as well. Your bounce rate on these may affect your overall bounce rate.

But the best way to address a bad bounce rate?  Is by contacting the WordPressSEOGuys

December 2015 Update
Girls in Yoga Pants pretty much gone – Google seems to have worked out that women searching for yoga pants are looking to buy yoga pants, men searching for yoga pants… well… they are looking just for the pictures… so best to narrow the results to display a women’s bums in yoga pants site when the search is more specific to that preference…. Good one Google!

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