Bounce Rate Not Weighed in Google Algorithm

by on 03/31/2011 in Google, SEO

Many webmasters still look at this metric as a ranking value and they really need to dispel this myth.  Bounce rate as defined by Google is the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page. In fact, bounce rate can be skewed in several ways, let’s take a close look at some facts;Bounce Rate

  • When a person searches for something on Google and they click on a search result, but then they click back to Google results only because they didn’t like the page they clicked on. This wouldn’t count as a bounce. Google would look at this as a result that had little relevance or poor quality.
  • Google has repeatedly said that a “bounce” on a single page-view is a measurement that’s too noisy to use as part of its ranking algorithm.
  • Sites that offer downloads get hurt the most by bounce rate; because users leave the product page once the download is completed.
  • Many blogs will see higher bounce rates because once a user reads the article they found or an article that was shared via social channels, they leave from the same article page.

Bounce rate shouldn’t be used to measure the quality of a page. The indicator that means most to me is how long a visitor stays on a given web page or web site. This measurement is called “time on site”.

If you have a high bounce rate, you could say that users are finding what they want on your site and Google is sending people to exactly the page they were looking for.

Hopefully, the New York Yankees will get a few good bounces go their way on opening day.

13 Responses to “Bounce Rate Not Weighed in Google Algorithm”

  1. Oddly, I was just looking at these stats for my blog. Much of my traffic comes from specific searches and it takes 1-2 minutes to read the majority of my articles. People don’t have a lot of free time these days and my conclusion was this: I would rather have someone spend a couple of minutes reading the article they came for then have them look at 6 pages for 20 seconds each and then leave without reading anything.

    • Frank Jovine

      Mar 31st, 2011

      Jonathan,

      Good point and I would also rather them read the article or search result they were looking for then to look through the entire site.

  2. Harshit Singhal

    Apr 3rd, 2011

    yes bounce rate is a measure of whether people are reading a particular blog or not, but it doesn’t affect SEO rankings.

    • Frank Jovine

      Apr 3rd, 2011

      Harshit,

      You are correct, bounce will not have any negative effect on SEO.

  3. It really is a catch 22 for both sides. Google is in the business of returning the most targeted and efficient results, that depending on site design could raise or lower bounce rate. The top reasons to visit a website(specifically a local business) is to find hours, address or phone number. More and more sites are putting their contact info on the homepage, which would logically cause a higher bounce rate, and reduce time on site. Good luck figuring that solution out Google. Nashville web designers try to build the best sales piece we can that is compatible with Google. Getting the customer to spend money is as important to the website owner as bowing to Google.

    Just my humble opinion

  4. DJ Sophia

    Apr 6th, 2011

    Ya bounce rate does not effect your SEO but low bounce rate is good for your site…

  5. John

    Apr 6th, 2011

    So if someone comes to your site and read the information and clicks on a link ie advertisment or affiliate link is that still counted as bounce?

    • Frank Jovine

      Apr 6th, 2011

      John,

      If they leave the page, yes. But that’s not a bad thing as you earn money from those ads. I trade a bounce for a buck.

  6. Bruce Dog

    Apr 9th, 2011

    I also wonder about the following bounce rate scenario. In the early days of site building, it is possible that any click through to your site will help boost its SERP. If your business is a local service, it isn’t likely to hold someones interest on another continent, but one backs the fact that a visitor that stays for only a short while and bounces is still worth more than that person not visiting at all.

    I mean in the best case scenario, if you have been truthful or someone else truthful on the anchor text leading to your site, it should not be your fault if they bounce. If you have great article, maybe they will stay for that as well. I have always questioned if high bounce rates mean that the anchor text over sold a site, or that for some industries, its just the average.

  7. James

    Apr 18th, 2011

    It seems to me that it would be counterproductive for Google to encourage webmasters to create quality content that answers visitors questions and then penalize the site for a bounce as it is possible the visitor did receive a sufficient answer. I agree that there are too many interpretations for any particular bounce for it to be an objective measure of quality.

    • Frank Jovine

      Apr 18th, 2011

      James,

      Bounce rate is not weighed heavily or even a little in the way visitors find what they need and leave. Entering and existing from the same page could mean they found what they were looking for.

  8. Personally, I think it’s only logical that google would look at bounce rate. They were using those “content farm” sites as an example and I would imagine that they have a high bounce rate.

    However, it’s probably not as simple as “every site with a bounce rate over 85% (or whatever) gets peanlized.

    They’re probably targeting sites with a bounce rate over whatever with time on site under whatever along with a few other factors. Then, they probably just added a few rules related broken
    links, duplicate meta descriptions, load time, etc just because those kind of things piss them off. :)

    • Frank Jovine

      Apr 28th, 2011

      Susanna,

      Google doesn’t penalize sites with a high bounce rate. This is what the article is about. Bounce rate doesn’t figure in Google’s algo.