Bounce rate is one of the most overlooked search engine ranking factors. It may not have a direct impact on your website’s search engine ranking positions, but it does play its part. A high bounce rate represents factors and underlying issues that do have a negative impact on your website’s potential to rank. In this blog post, we will discuss what bounce rate is, how bounce rate impacts search engine rankings, and what you can do to lower your bounce rate and improve your rankings overall.
What is bounce rate?
A bounce rate shows the percentage of people who land on a web page and then exit the website without viewing any other page on your site. A 50% bounce rate means that half of your website visitors do not visit any other web page on your site.
How does bounce rate impact your website’s search engine rankings?
There are two ways the bounce rate can negatively affect your website’s rankings in the SERPs.
- First, a high bounce rate indicates low engagement. Google is now paying a lot of attention to engagement rate, and a low engagement rate (high bounce rate) may lead to a demotion in the search engine rankings.
- Second, and most importantly, Google tracks people who click on a search result, land on your website and then exit immediately, go back to search results and click on another result and land on one of your competitor’s websites.
This second phenomenon is known as ‘pogo sticking’, and this is becoming a big deal in modern-day SEO. You can say that pogo sticking is a form of bounce rate. There are many reasons why some websites have high bounce rates and high pogo sticking rates. Here are a few of them and how you can improve these metrics.
1. Slow loading website
If a website loads very slowly, users are more likely to abandon it almost straight away. Even if they do not pogo-stick out of the website, it’s unlikely they will go any further into it by visiting other page — which would lead to a high bounce rate. To improve the bounce rate and minimise the possibility of pogo sticking, make sure that your website loads within one-three seconds. On average, 74% of users quit a web page that does not load in 5 seconds.
2. Misleading titles
Misleading titles is one of the more common reasons why people pogo-stick out of a web page almost instantly. If they read a title, click on the search engine result snippet, and find that the content is not what they were promised, they will exit your website. That not only hurts your website’s credibility, but it also pushes up the bounce rate and sends Google a negative signal that your site’s result isn’t serving its purpose.
3. A boring headline and intro
Misleading titles are bad, but then so are boring headlines and introductory paragraphs. The attention span of an average online user is now 7 seconds. You must grab the attention of your website visitors as soon as possible. The right headline and introduction are crucial for this. Otherwise, despite how good the rest of your content may be, you may end up losing your top position in the search engine results page (SERP for short).
4. A cluttered website design
Sometimes, a cluttered website design can turn off users. If they don’t like how your website looks, they are unlikely to venture further into your website. This will eventually result in a higher bounce rate.
5. A poor navigation structure
If you want your visitors to explore more of your website, you must have a clean, clear, and well-designed website navigation structure. Make sure the menu bar is always available and accessible by users. Also use terminologies that the average internet user is familiar with – no overly confusing words. You should also use widgets that help with website navigation, e.g., related articles, top posts, and add internal linking within the body copy of your webpage content.
Bounce rate may not have a big direct impact on how high your website ranks in the SERPs, but it is important nevertheless. It helps you to identify that your website may not be as interesting as you think. You can also identify which web pages are particularly boring to your users by sorting bounce rates by web pages. Moreover, you can also spot if returning users find your website navigation structure simpler — when compared with new users. This can help you set the direction of your next website redesign. Ultimately, by tracking and improving the bounce rate, you will do things that are useful for your website and its search engine rankings.