SEO success is measured by using tools such as Google Analytics to track website activity. There are a number of metrics that SEOs and web managers analyze and compare to past performance as well as against industry norms. These include the total number of visits, the number of pages visited, the time spent on each page and a number of other measures. Today we are going to look at one particular measure that sometimes gets a bad rep- bounce rate.
According to the Google Analytics help page, the bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page. This could be the result of a person landing on a particular page of your site and realizing that it is not what they are looking for, so they leave. Generally, this metric is used to measure the quality of the visit, with a high bounce rate indicating that the page content isn’t relevant to visitors. The assumption is that a visitor plugged in certain keywords looking for something they didn’t find on your page and therefore that your page may be attracting the wrong kind of traffic. If this is the case, you would want to examine the keywords you are using for that page and adjust them to reflect what a person looking for your page would use in a search.
But a higher bounce rate doesn’t necessarily mean that you are attracting the wrong visitors. It could also mean that the page does such a good job of providing all of the information the visitor needs that they don’t need any further time on the site. For example, in the case of an optometry practice, a visitor might come to the site seeking a phone number, address or office hours. Once they have that information they may leave simply because they got what they came for.
The other metric you need to assess for any page with a high bounce rate is time spent on the page. If a page with a high bounce rate has a respectable time spent on page you probably don’t have to be concerned with the page quality. If however, people are landing on the page and quickly leaving, you want to look deeper to consider if there is a problem.
The bottom line? If you see a high bounce rate on your analytics, don’t panic. First, take the time to examine the other metrics, the page content itself and whether any other factors may come in to play. If there has been a sudden increase, you may have a real SEO issue that needs to be dealt with. As with any analytic tool, it is important to understand what exactly the numbers mean and what behaviors or trends may be having an impact on the results.