The bounce rate is one of the parameters that gives us a picture of how engaging the content of a given website is, as well as how the website was designed in terms of the broadly understood UX (user experience). This is an important indicator, but the value for webmasters is often underestimated or overestimated. What exactly does the bounce rate tell us about and how to interpret it? Does it affect the positioning of the website?
Bounce rate – what is it and what does it mean?
Google Analytics calculates the bounce rate using the formula:
sessions where the user has performed only one interaction / whole session
Of course, the rule is that the lower the bounce rate, the better – low bounce rate means that most users interact with the site, which should be important to every website owner. However, it does not have to play a very important role for every website.
High bounce rate – is this a cause for concern?
Certainly, the opinion that a session with a single subpage means that “the user entered the site, threw up and left”, which can sometimes be found on the Internet, should be approached with a great distance. For natural reasons, the bounce rate analysis will not work very well if the website is a so-called onepage, i.e. there are no subpages. Expert blogs are often characterized by a fairly high bounce rate – a user usually comes to such a blog in search of an article containing specific information on a specific topic, and after obtaining it, he leaves the site. A similar “problem” occurs in the case of online dictionaries, culinary websites or websites with research aids, and it does not necessarily mean that the websites are of little value to users – it is simply dictated by the specificity of the content.
Certainly, a high bounce rate should be very alarming for the e-commerce industry, especially when it is accompanied by a low conversion rate. The specific value in most cases can only be interpreted after taking into account the user group and the customs prevailing in a given industry, as well as – if possible – the results of competing parties.
When it comes to traffic sources, sessions obtained from display ads and social media typically generate the highest bounce rates. Users who access the site from these sources often return to the previous site quickly. In the case of display ads, you should definitely take into account “missclicki”, i.e. incidental clicks on the image with the advertisement, especially if the entries were generated by pop-ups that were difficult to close, or other forms of “clever” provoking not entirely intentional interaction.
Is bounce rate a ranking factor in SEO?
As is often the case with the Google algorithm, opinions are divided. Google itself claims that the bounce rate is not a factor that directly affects a website’s position in search results. On the other hand, a large number of positioners believe that the search engine is able to conclude that a given page is optimized for a given phrase, and users do not find information on it, which must have some impact on SEO.
A high bounce rate can also be related to other factors that are included in Google’s official webmaster guidelines. In this case, the bounce rate will be an indicator of other website optimization problems that will definitely affect positioning. A high value may, for example, result from a long loading of a given subpage, which makes an impatient user decide to switch to another site. Another reason may be poorly optimized text, which makes it difficult to absorb the content, the website is not adapted to mobile devices, a large number of annoying ads or the lack of an SSL certificate.
How to reduce your bounce rate?
Improve UX (user experience) on the website
Underdeveloped UX is usually the main reason for a high bounce rate. For some reason (or more often reasons), the site simply does not encourage the user to interact. This may be due to hundreds of factors, from the archaic structure of the website itself, through the choice of an insufficiently fast server, to errors that hinder browsing the content.
UX is a multi-faceted, complex issue – a valuable first step may be to commission a full UX audit to specialists.
Optimize your content
Proper optimization of the content is in many respects a UX element – division into paragraphs, alignment of the text in paragraphs to the left, choosing a font that is pleasing to the eye or adapting the content to different resolutions. However, not only the form, but also the content is of great importance – sometimes redrafting a given text can significantly minimize the bounce rate. Analyze whether there is a lack of appropriate call to action, whether the text is read lightly or rather clumsy. Even seemingly small changes can have a noticeable effect.
If a subpage generates a lot of organic traffic and at the same time its bounce rate is very high, perhaps the keywords used do not correspond to the actual content, collecting low-value inputs from the owner’s perspective.
Link internally and send suggestions to users
If there is an article on your website with a high bounce rate, offer the user other subpages that are related to the topic – you can do it in the form of a link directly in the text, with an appropriate CTA or a panel that will automatically display suggestions for similar subpages in within your website. In online stores, you can suggest other products from a given category that will probably meet the customer’s requirements.
Check the correctness of the Google Analytics implementation
Suspiciously high or low bounce rates can also be the result of incorrectly pasting the Google Analytics code. In this case, the system will misinterpret the given page entry, which will result in falsified data. A related issue will also be the lack or improper setting of events – the session with the launch of the movie on the website should not be included in the rejected sessions – although the user has not visited other subpages, he has performed a specific action on the website.