101 – What does ‘bounce rate’ mean and how does it affect SEO?

Nov 16th, 2017

Bounce rate is one of the most useful, but often misunderstood, metrics in web analytics. Here we explain the basics

What does bounce rate mean?

A bounce is a single-page visit to your site. In other words, people click onto your site, but decide not to explore any further.

A bounce rate is the percentage of all sessions on your site in which users viewed only a single page and left your website without browsing any of your other pages.

This metric is available across a most of Google Analytics’ reports and indicates how well your site’s content is meeting the needs of your visitors. For example, a high bounce rate could suggest that the content:

  • Doesn’t answer the question that the user was asking
  • Isn’t relevant to the marketing call to action (CTA) you’re using to drive users to those pages; or
  • Doesn’t offer users clear, easy paths to the next steps you want them to take

Therefore, you are typically looking for the lowest figure possible. Bounce rate has nothing to do with how long visitors spend on your site, or (directly) to do with your conversion rate – although these are metrics that you can also view in Google Analytics.

How to view your bounce rate in Google Analytics

Log into Google Analytics (GA). Ensure you’ve set the date range to the period you want to analyse.

On the left hand menu, select ‘Audience’, then ‘Overview’ from the drop-down. This will give you the overall bounce rate for your website during that period:

how to view bounce rate in GA

To view the bounce rate for individual pages, select ‘Behaviour’, ‘Site Content’, and ‘All Pages’:

how to view bounce rate in GA - individual pages

GA allows you to examine your bounce rate from different perspectives. For example:

  • The Audience Overview report provides the overall bounce rate for your site.
  • The Channels report provides the bounce rate for each channel grouping.
  • The All Traffic report provides the bounce rate for each source/medium pair.
  • The All Pages report provides the bounce rate for individual pages.

Is a high bounce rate a bad thing?

Not always. If the success of your site depends on users viewing more than one page, then, yes, a high bounce rate is bad. For example, if your homepage is the gateway to the rest of your site (eg, news articles, product pages, or your checkout process) and a high percentage of users are viewing only your homepage, then you don’t want a high bounce rate.

On the other hand, if you have a single-page site like a blog, or offer other types of content for which single-page sessions are expected, then a high bounce rate is perfectly normal.

While high bounce rates are acceptable for informational pages, a high rate for a page designed to lead a visitor through the site or to another page should ring warning bells.

What’s the impact of bounce rate on SEO?

In the majority of cases, a high bounce rate is indicative of a poor user experience. It’s the equivalent of someone on a first date asking you one question, then getting up and walking away when they’ve heard your answer (or even before you’ve finished answering).

While no one can claim to know exactly how Google decides how to rank a site, a high bounce rate can send a signal to Google that people aren’t getting what they are looking for on your site.

Google’s mission is to return the most relevant and high quality results to users, so if your site provides a great user experience (UX), it’s likely to rank more highly.

People need to spread more of their focus into the area of UX (user experience) and conversion rate optimisation (CRO) instead of falling into the trap of being primarily focused on generating traffic which may not convert as well as it could if key elements of the website and customer journey aren’t ironed out first. There’s little point getting lots of visitors in if they’re bouncing straight off your site and failing to take the next step in the conversion journey. SEO, page design and CRO should be part of the same joined-up process

Our Head of SEO Strategy, Chris Rowlands

What can I do to reduce bounce rate?

Driving down your site’s bounce rate is explored in a lot more depth here.

Want to find out how our services can help to improve your search ranking and convert more customers? Contact us today!

Facebook Twitter Instagram Linkedin Youtube