Bounce Rate: Does It Matter For Ranking and SEO

What to look for with Bounce Rate

There are probably a few writers out there who don't paint high bounce rate red. Is that dangerous? Is anything good or bad about a lower or higher bounce rate?

Of course, for most niches, you should be afraid of a high-figure bounce rate. But, what if you learned that the high rate of bouncing off your pages might not matter to certain niches? And not all lower numbers call for celebration?

This post will not only clear some misconceptions about the bounce rate, you will learn its basics, where it matters or otherwise, and how to interpret associated figures.

What's Bounce Rate?

The term is used to measure the percentage of visitors who navigate away from a website, certain content, section/category of the content of a website or blog. This doesn't mean the visitors don't read what they come for. Bounce rate comes in when they don't read other things than what they've come for.

That last statement has to be reemphasized as most people misinterpret the bounce rate to be when someone lands on your page and navigate away without reading the content thereon. Even if they read without further interactions with other pages or parts of the website, it still counts as a bounce.

Apparently, the higher the figure, the worst the feedback to the publishers and search engines that uses this to measure the users' experience. Don't forget "users' experience" is the cure factor Google uses as the ranking factors.

Search engines, depending on the niches or content types, conclude that the lower the percentage of people that choose not to interact with other posts or parts of your website, the less satisfied they are with your website. And if the figure is lower, you're doing great.

However, experience has shown that direct interpretation of higher bounce rate as negative or lower one as positive can be wrong and misleading.

To clarify this, let's see a few niches or websites where bounce rate counts, counts not, and how.

Difference Niches Where Bounce Rate May Count Or Otherwise

If you look closely, you will understand how the bounce rate works. Instead of the general interpretation of the figures, you'll see beyond your nose. Let's consider the following instances.

1. Long-Form Content Website/Niches

The percentage of people navigating away from your pages is very relevant if you write long-form content.

Because bounce rate is industry- or niche-based, you may need to worry about a higher figure. Content with about 1000 words is not doing well if the bounce rate is high.

Let me explain.

Some of us thrive with skyscrapers. These pillar posts are necessary for the niches such as SEO, online marketing, and a few other fields that demand extensive and comprehensive unique and evergreen posts.

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 home page is the gateway to the rest of your site (e.g., news articles, product pages, your checkout process) and a high percentage of users are viewing only your home page, then you don’t want a high bounce rate.

These niches compete for the best and to be distinctive. Hence, if the percentage of bounce rate is higher, you're sending feedback to search engines that your posts are not worthy of reading just as you're sending visitors to your competition.

The lower the bounce rate here, the better.

2. Direct-Answer Niches

Different from the above, if you're in a niche that delivers concise information or answers to people's queries, the higher bounce rate doesn't matter. Websites reporting or updating football scores, quick updates, etc are doing well even with a 90% figure.

For these niches, the number of words doesn't count. Internal linking (on-page SEO) may not matter. In fact, writing pillar posts here can kill your ranking. People want to come, see direct answers to their questions, and get out. Writing an English essay won't only irritate them but will show your lack of professionalism.

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.

Search engines are aware of this. Hence, the bounce rate is not taken into account when ranking content for such niches. Clicks and in fact, a higher bounce rate may help if the visitors don't look for the same results after navigating away.

In simple words...

Why will someone checking Los Angeles's weather condition keep interacting with your pages if he can get his answer immediately on the first page?

3. Websites Ranked For Featured Snippets

Even though Google featured snippets had been criticized lately for killing traffic to websites, page ranking for snippets is not measured by the bounce rate.

If you have several posts appearing for snippets, visitors seldomly click to read through not to say reading one post after the other.

This doesn't mean the visitors are not satisfied with your answers. Snippets give concise answers from your content without the visitors reading through the entire posts. Once they're satisfied with the brick paragraphs, they definitely navigate away from search results.

Does that count as a high bounce rate?

Obviously No!

4. Single-Page or Affiliate Page

If you run a blog with just a page content or promotional/affiliate blog, after reading that long post and they decide not to buy, what else would they do? They will navigate away, of course, or close the page.

This shouldn't affect your traffic or ranking but if it does, it worth worrying about since the higher you rank for that single page, the more likely the sales.

Checking Your Bounce Rate

For the purpose of clarification, you may want to check your status by now. You may want to know if yours is lower or higher so you can interpret thereon. Below is a list of quick mediums to check your bounce rate.
  1. Google Analytics: Using this tool, you can check several metrics around the bounce rate. You can view the bounce rate for the entire website, individual pages, categories, or sections of the website. To get started, you have to connect your blog with Google Analytics
  2. Statcounter: Statcounter lets you track your bounce rate for every page on your website. To get started, create an account, add the Statcounter code to your website and go to the Reports section. In the Pages widget, select the Entry tab and then View Report.
  3. For more tools and how to put them into uses, check, "How to Comprehensively Check your Bounce Rate"

Quick Statistics and Discrepancies on Bounce Rate

Because the topic, "Bounce Rate" is a complex one, there have been different opinions on what figure should be taken as good, bad, or worst.

Statcounter opines that:
  • 25% of bounce rate is excellent: The interpretation is here is that it's the lower figure. Hence, is so cool. Yet, don't forget niches, types of content, country, and other factors should be factored in.
  • 26% to 45% is good
  • 45% and above is too bad and need attention and improvement.

The guys at RocketFuel says:
Bounce rates from 25% to 30% are most likely as low as you’ll see them with everything working correctly. Anything under 40% that’s not the result of a broken GA installation is excellent, and indicative of a well built, professionally designed website that is meeting its users’ needs. On the other hand, a bounce rate that low may also reflect a lack of dynamic (blogs, news, etc.) content on the website, which may or may not be beneficial.

They concluded that a bounce rate below 20% or over 90% is usually a bad sign

Since there is no general concessor on the perfect figure to measure the good and the bad of the bounce rate, you don't have to be disturbed. Just pay attention, in accordance with your niche, and make sure you keep the figure lower (if relevant to your niche).

Conclusion

Bounce Rate is a topic that should be carefully addressed. You don't generally conclude that the higher the percentage, the worst or the lower it is, the better - unless relevant.

With this analysis, I hope you agree that both can be ideal or otherwise.

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