Now that the dust raised by Google’s May Day algorithm update (now frequently referred to as the “Mayday” update due to the consternation it’s caused) is beginning to settle, one thing is for certain: the change is here to stay. So rather than moaning about it, it’s better to spend your time seeing if you can improve your sites so that they’re more in line with what Google now thinks is important for a site’s rank.
One factor that appears to now have a greater effect on page ranking is the page’s bounce rate…
So What’s “Bounce Rate” Then?
It’s simple. It’s the percentage of people who, having come to a page on your site from an external source (like Google, Yahoo, Bing, a backlink, etc.) who leave the page without visiting any other page on your site.
It doesn’t matter how long they spend on your page – whether it’s a couple of seconds because they realise it’s not what they’re looking for, whether it’s several minutes reading your interesting article, or whether it’s tens of minutes watching the video you slapped up on the page after hours of preparation. If they didn’t click to another page on your site, they bounced! Not really fair is it, as it doesn’t take into account how relevant the information on your page was to the visitor? Google’s definition of bounce rate is:
Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits (i.e. visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page). Bounce rate is a measure of visit quality and a high bounce rate generally indicates that site entrance (landing) pages aren?t relevant to your visitors.
So there you have it. That’s Google’s definition and that’s what we all have to work with. I think it’s an incomplete definition. The page may have been very relevant to the visitor but they may not have been interested in anything else on your site and Google isn’t taking cognizance of that.
How Do You Know Your Bounce Rate?
Google Analytics (and other comprehensive web analytics software) will provide you with the bounce rates for your pages. So you will need to use some tracking software on your pages to find out this information.
So What Is a High Bounce Rate?
This is in the “How long is a piece of string?” category. Some people say anything over 75% is high, some say anything over 50% is high. And others think anything over 25% is high.
I did a little exercise with the visitors to this blog and checked the bounce rate to my pages. This site uses Google Analytics to track stuff and I used the premise that any page with a 50%+ bounce rate had a high bounce rate and needed some tweaking in order to make it perform better.
To see your bounce rate info, here’s what to do in Google Analytics:
1. Click on the View Report link for the domain you’re interested in
2. In the left-hand menu, click the Traffic Sources option.
3. Now click on the Search Engines sub-option.
4. Finally, in the content results area (the info to the right of the menu), click on the Google option.
So, what Comes Up?
Some information in the screenshots below is blurred out and a couple of columns have been deleted to comply with Google’s Terms of Service in regard to revealing certain information.
You can see the Keyword, the Landing Page (page visited) and the Bounce Rate.
What I see from the statistics that that virtually all of the pages visited have a 100% bounce rate; i.e. all those who visited didn’t look at another page on my site. What I also see (column not displayed), is that most visitors spent no time on a page when they did visit. This would suggest that there’s some bad SEO on the pages or that Google is ranking the pages for the wrong keywords.
In the period covered, May 17 – June 17, this blog received 45 visitors directly from Google. In total, there were 775 visits in that time from all traffic sources, so Google accounts for 5.8% of visitors.
Looking at the figures for All Traffic Sources (rather than just traffic from Google) reveals a different picture:
Here, bounce rates for pages are lower, some significantly so. What surprises me is that the traffic I’m getting from Google is such a low percentage of my overall traffic, most of which is direct traffic. So the majority of my traffic is coming from direct links, e.g. forum signatures and backlinks on other sites. But the quality of traffic from Google itself isn’t good.
Decreasing Bounce Rate
Ok, it’s obvious that I need to do some work on some pages to keep visitors. So here are 7 tips I’ve come up with to help decrease bounce rates:
- Add a link back to the home page at the bottom of each article
- Near the top of an article (after the 1st or 2nd paragraph) add links to other relevant posts on your blog so if the visitor gets bored, they can go look at another post.
- Check that the terms (Keyword) driving traffic to a page (Landing Page) are actually relevant to the page (maybe the pages need some tweaking)
- Put links to other pages on your site higher in your post and links to external sites lower down in the post
- If you’re checking to see what posts on your blog are showing up in Google, don’t click the link to your site in the search results! You may just be increasing the bounce rate for your page.
- Alternatively, if you do click a link to your site in the search results, make sure to visit at least one other page on your site so you keep the page bounce rate down!
- Use the Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARRP) plugin (on WordPress blogs). This will add a list of related posts (if found) on your blog a the bottom of your posts.
What Other Tips Do You Have?
What do you do to reduce bounce rates? I love getting comments so add your thoughts or replies below. Am I out of order in my views here? If you have a question, I can also answer you here. Plus, you’ll also get a backlink to your site of choice if you leave a comment!
Tagged with: Alex Jeffreys • Algorithm • Analytics • Bad Idea • Bounce • Bounce Rate • Cognizance • Consternation • External Source • Google • Google Yahoo • Inbound Links • Journey • May Day • Mayday • Rank One • Tens • Web Analytics Software • Yahoo
Filed under: Stats & Tracking