What is Bounce Rate in Google Analytics? [Effects on Website Rank in Google]

What is Bounce Rate in Google Analytics?

The Bounce Rate in Google Analytics is the percentage of all visits to your site in which readers viewed only one page and left (or bounced).

Some website owners, especially novice bloggers, confuse a bounce with the amount of time users spent on a single page. In Google Analytic terms, this is called Session Duration. Unfortunately, even experienced marketers often confuse these two concepts. I discovered that many tutorials are teaching how to keep visitors on a post rather than how to encourage them to browse other pages of your site after reading one. 

What is Bounce Rate in Google Analytics? [Effects on Website Rank in Google] -- The Screenshot from Google Analytics Home Page
Average Bounce Rate – Screenshot from Google Analytics Home Page

While both issues are important for better ranking in Google and other search engines, today I’m going to talk about the Bounce Rate and NOT Session Duration. There are definitely common techniques to improve both, but how to motivate your visitors to read a single-page content is a topic for another post.  Right now, let’s explore how to optimize your website in order to increase awareness of other content your blog offers and raise interest to surf more pages on your site.

Depending on the goals of your posts and the nature of your business, the high bounce rate in Google Analytics is not always a bad thing. The expert marketers suggest that an acceptable bounce rate per a content-driven website should be under 70%, yet the numbers over 55% indicate that optimization is required rather sooner than later.

Bounce Rate Benchmarks

What is Bounce Rate in Google Analytics? [Effects on Website Rank in Google] -- Bounce Rate Benchmarks Infographic

Some of your blog posts might be designed to drive visitors away from your website. Thus, if someone landed on such a page through organic search, and left following your Call To Action, this person’s behavior will contribute to the higher bounce rate of your site. At the same time, this visitor who followed your CTA has contributed to the higher conversion rate of your site. That’s what you want even more than keeping him or her browsing through other posts on your blog. The high conversion rate will eventually lead to more profit from your blog. 

However, you should keep the number of posts that intend your audience to leave after reading it, to the minimal. Google takes your Bounce Rate into consideration among many other factors when determining how to rank your site. The higher your overall site rank is, the higher your individual posts rank and the more organic traffic you get to your blog. Isn’t that your ultimate goal? 

There are many aspects that may affect your overall bounce rate. Of course, number 1 is the quality of your content. This is one of the common factors for both: session duration and bounce rate. But assuming that your content is amazing and average session duration counts in minutes, what else can be improved on your site to keep visitors interested in browsing other pages?

Let’s take a look at the following section.

18 Tips to Improve Bounce Rate.

  1. Write quality and engaging content.
    Well organized and presented interesting and valuable information will not only keep your readers’ attention on one page but will also trigger curiosity to browse other material on your website.
    • Keep paragraphs short
    • Use numbered and bulleted lists
    • Use images illustrating the content
    • Including a relevant video is very beneficial

  2. Choose the keywords closely relevant to the content of your blog.
    If users come to your blog via organic search channel and see that its content is not relevant to what they were looking for, they are going to click the browser’s Back button right away, thus reducing your average session duration and increasing your bounce rate.
    Choosing well-defined and highly relevant keywords could be tricky as the same keywords can be used when searching for different types of information. Sometimes, using longer keyword phrases may improve your bounce rate.

  3. Improve your page load speed by using Google PageSpeed plugin or even changing your hosting provider. You can use Pingdom to check your page loading time.

  4. Make sure that your blog is mobile-friendly.
    Test your website with Mobile/ Responsive Web Design Tester extension for Google Chrome or with a similar tool.

  5. Get rid of annoying pop-ups if you have any on your website.

  6. If traffic to your website is not huge, don’t display in your posts any 3rd-party ads such as Google AdSense. Unless thousands of people are visiting your site daily, these ads will earn you pennies, but they will distract readers and drive them away from the intended action proposed in your content.

  7. Include relevant internal links in your post content.

  8. Reduce the number of pages with the Calls to Action leading away from your website.
    In affiliate marketing, you can write isolated posts (such as Product/ Service Review) with affiliate links that take visitors away from your site. Keep all other posts pointing to these Review pages rather than taking your readers directly to the product or service these posts are referring to.

  9. Open external links in a separate tab or in a new window.
What is Bounce Rate in Google Analytics? [Effects on Website Rank in Google] -- How to open external links in a separate tab.
  1. Display popular posts excerpts in your sidebar and add related posts as a gallery link under each post.
    If you are reading this post on the computer, look at my sidebar for an example. Having “About Author” snippet with a link to either full biography page or to the Contact page is helpful. I also included the introduction of 2 home-based business opportunities, which I’d like my visitors to learn about (internal links to Review pages on this site) and possibly join (external links are less obvious as they are “hidden” in the images; these links will open in a new tab)
    Some WordPress themes offer an option to include Related Posts gallery at the bottom of each page. Either turn on this option or create your own gallery for each post using the WP Gallery Custom Links plugin.
What is Bounce Rate in Google Analytics? [Effects on Website Rank in Google] -- Related Posts Gallery at the bottom of each page.
  1. Don’t share pages with intentionally high bounce rates in social networks. Instead, share pages that have internal links to your “Review” posts. Articles, containing affiliate links and clear CTA to check your external promotions are only encreasing the Bounce Rate if they serve both as an entrance and an exit page. If a user landed on a different page, followed the link to the page containing your affiliate link, and exited from this new page following your CTA, he/she won’t contribute to increasing your Bounce Rate, and he/she will contribute to increasing your conversion rate – that’s exactly what you want.

  2. Make navigation of your site clear and simple.
    Keep your Primary Menu flat: one line without long drop-down lists under each header. In WordPress, assign “Categories” to keep related posts together. You can use these Categories in your Menu.

  3. You can also break down your longest posts into 2 or more pages with the “Continue Reading” button on the previous page.

  4. Link your images to internal pages or set links to none.
    Sometimes, images are linked by default of your editor to their full-size media file. Make sure that all links in images are intentional. If you need to link your image to an external webpage or to its media file, open the destination page in a new tab as shown above.

  5. Add “Back to Top” or “Home” button at the end of the posts if your Top Menu goes out of sight as users scroll down while reading your post.

  6. Keep your content fresh: update your old posts and add new ones frequently.
    Do not delete outdated posts. Modify the content of an old post as much as needed, but keep under the same permalink, adjust the “Publish” date to the current date, and make sure that the time is in the past.

  7. Make sure that your comment requests do not increase your site’s bounce rate.
    If you’re participating in the comments exchange groups on Facebook or in other communities, ask your commentators to click on at least one other internal link after they read and commented on the post you provided a direct link to. Do the same when you comment on other bloggers’ posts.

    Comments are supposed to increase user engagement, complement your SEO and boost your ranking in Google’s eyes.

    At the same time, if commentators viewed only one post and left your website, they contributed to increasing your bounce rate and thus decreasing your rank.

    By exchanging comments, we are trying to help each other succeed in our online businesses. While offering a helpful right hand, we don’t want our left hand to unintentionally impair the SEO figures.

  8. Be sure that your own IP is filtered out in Google Analytics.
    While writing and formating content, you may view your post on the website multiple times and leave. If your computer’s IP is not excluded, your own visits will contribute to increasing your site’s bounce rate. Set a filter in Google Analytics – so, that your own visits to your site do not negatively affect the statistics.

I made a short video for you explaining how to set up a filter in Google Analytics:

The Bottom Line…

In general, the high Bounce Rate value in Google Analytics negatively affects the overall rank of your website. However, it’s only one of the numerous factors that Google counts in when calculating the rank. Depending on your business needs, having a high  Bounce Rate may actually indicate that you are doing the right thing. 

Analyze your posts taking into consideration the tips offered above. See if there is room for improvement and fix the unintentional issues that you find. But please use the conventional wisdom. Do not go crazy trying to improve your Bounce Rate and at the same time jeopardizing the good stuff that works well. 

Your end goal is to increase the rank, organic traffic to your site, and conversions. Whatever works – it’s all good! 🙂

Was this information helpful for you? What’s your current Bounce Rate? Please let me know in the comment area below. Then, come back and tell me if you were able to improve your site’s Bounce Rate using my advice.

And of course, feel free to browse around my posts. I hope you will contribute to lowering my blog’s bounce rate and not vice versa. Thank you!

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