Bounce Rate As Ranking Factor? Google Says No

Alekh VermaBlogLeave a Comment

Bounce Rate in SEO

In the last few years. Web marketers have long argued about if the bounce rate is a good metric to include as a ranking signal. Every digital marketing specialist has put in their own visions and thoughts. But one thing, that most, after a thorough analysis and rank metrics will agree upon, is that bounce rate is definitely not a good ranking signal.

And authenticating this acceptance is none other than one of the Google specialists, Gary Illyes. Below is a snap from his twitter handle:

He went on to expand on his comment with another tweet, here responding to a query:

In fact, this is not the first instance that someone from Google has asserted that the leading Search Engine does not consider bounce rate a good ranking signal. Way back in 2008, Matt Cutts also said that bounce rate is a noisy signal that is spammable, and so is not used by Google. And also John Mueller (Googler, JohnMu) said this about bounce rate in 2008:

 

So, what we can determine from these statements? Before jumping to any conclusion, let’s shed a light on what defines bounce rate.

Bounce rate

A bounce can be defined as the low amount of time and engagement user gives to a specific site. If the user is one site for less than 15 -20 seconds, then it is considered a bounce. In second measurement, if a user visits a site, sees only one page and leave, then it is considered a bounce. This user engagement is recorded by the analytics tool, used by the site.

Is Bounce rate a good signal to rank a website or not?

What Google does, is use engagement statistics from Google Analytics, and that does not mean looking at the bounce rate to give rank to a site. What it actually takes into account is ‘Behavioral Science’. For example, if a user visits a site, that is a reference oriented site, and finds the answer, he/she is looking for quickly and leave. This indicates quality, and does not mean a bad link or site. This is what Google factors in when calculating the analytics metrics. This is what Gary Illyes has stressed upon in his response to a query from Alex Graves (see above).

It clearly means that the search engines aren’t using ‘bounce rate’ as a signal, like you’d see in Google Analytics. Google is more concerned on the type of behavior a user has with a site, i.e. if they are finding the solution on your site what they are looking for, rather than the time you spend or pages you visit. In fact, a high bounce rate may be a good sign, as the user is finding exactly and quickly what they want. It also brings the focus on another important factor, Site Map. A better and improved Site Map gives the users what they want,  with easy and quick accessibility.

Not Bounce Rate but Return-To-SERP metric

Bounce Rate has just become debatable, when it is not the actual metric Google relies on. In fact, Google considers another metric more important, i.e. return-to-SERP metric. This metric measures user engagement behavior, like how often after clicking a result, the user has returned back to search page to look for a different question. This means that the page the user just visited does not yield results to that specific keyword and therefore is irrelevant, and so loses its ranking.

This clearly underlines the fact that Google does not consider the website analytics, rather focuses on user behavior when ranking a webpage.

Bounce rates from Social Media links

Similar is the performance measurement for visits from social media channels. Most of the times, links that direct a user from a social channel page to a website may lead to bounce. This is why Google does not use Facebook, Twitter and such channels for direct ranking, instead focuses on the quality of the visits to the site from these networks.

So, if you are worrying about how bounce rates can affect your site, you do not have to. Just consult your SEO company in India to get a clear insight.

All you should be concerned about is giving quality to the user, and using highly relevant keywords for every web page of your site. Focus on rich user engagement. Ensure that your SEO services provider in India works upon making your site qualitative, rather than just generating links.

Alekh Verma

Alekh Verma

Alekh Verma is the Founder and CEO of eSearch Logix Technologies, a leading SEO Company in India based at Noida (Delhi/NCR). A leading Online Marketing expert and strategist, Alekh helps businesses to improve their Online presence by help of Search Engines and other Digital Sources like Paid Advertising and Affiliate Marketing.
Alekh Verma