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The bounce rate is one of the metrics that gives us an idea of how engaging a site’s content is, as well as how the site has been designed in terms of UX (user experience). It is an important indicator, but its value for the webmaster is often underestimated or overestimated. What exactly does the rejection rate tell us and how to interpret it? Does it affect the positioning of the site?
What’s a Bounce Rate?
Google Analytics calculates the bounce rate using the formula:
sessions during which the user had only one interaction / total session
Of course, the rule of thumb is that the lower the bounce rate, the better – a low bounce rate means that most users are interacting with the site, which is something every website owner should care about. However, this does not necessarily play a very important role for every website.
High Bounce Rate – a Cause for Concern?
Certainly with great distance should be approached opinions, according to which a session with a single subpage means that “the user came to the site, threw up and left”, which can sometimes be found on the Web. For natural reasons, bounce rate analysis will not work very well if the site is a so-called onepage, i.e. it does not have any subpages. Expert blogs are also characterized by a rather high bounce rate – a user usually comes to such a blog looking for an article containing specific information on a particular topic, and after getting it, leaves the site. A similar “problem” occurs with online dictionaries, cooking or science websites, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that these sites are of little value to users – it simply dictates the specifics of the content.
Certainly a high rejection rate should be very alarming for the e-commerce industry, especially when accompanied by a low conversion rate. The specific value in most cases can only be interpreted after taking into account the user group and habits of the industry, as well as, if possible, the performance of competing sites.
In terms of traffic sources, the highest rejection rates are usually generated by sessions acquired from display ads and social media. Users who access the site through these sources often quickly return to the previous site. In the case of display ads, you should certainly also take into account “misscliks,” i.e. incidental clicks on an ad image, especially if the entries were generated by hard-to-close pop-ups or other forms that “cleverly” provoke unintentional interaction.
Is Bounce Rate a Ranking Factor in SEO?
As is often the case with Google’s algorithm, opinions are divided. Google itself claims that the bounce rate is not a factor that directly affects a site’s position in search results. On the other hand, many SEOs believe that the search engine is able to deduce that a given page is optimized for a given phrase and users do not find information on it, which in a way must affect SEO.
A high bounce rate can also be related to other factors that are found in Google’s official guidelines for webmasters. In this case, the bounce rate will be an indicator of other site optimization problems that certainly affect SEO. For example, a high value may be due to a long loading time of a given subpage, which makes an impatient user decide to move to another site. Another reason may be a poorly optimized text that makes it difficult to absorb the content, not adjusting the site for mobile devices, a large number of annoying ads or lack of SSL certificate.
How Do I Reduce my Bounce Rate?
- Improve the UX (user experience) on your website
An underdeveloped UX is usually the main reason for a high rejection rate. For some reason (or more often – reasons) the site simply doesn’t encourage user interaction. It can be caused by hundreds of factors, from archaic design of the site itself, to choosing a server that is not fast enough, to errors that make it difficult to browse the content.
UX is a multi-faceted, complex issue – a valuable first step may be to outsource a full UX audit to a specialist.
- Optimize Content
Content optimization is a UX element in many respects – dividing it into paragraphs, aligning text in paragraphs to the left, choosing an eye-pleasing font or adjusting content to different resolutions. However, not only the form, but also the content is very important – sometimes re-writing the text can significantly minimize the rejection rate. Analyze whether there is no proper call to action, whether the text reads lightly or rather clumsily. Even seemingly small changes can have a noticeable effect.
If a subpage has been well positioned by SEO efforts and generates a lot of organic traffic, but at the same time its rejection rate is very high, it may be that the keywords used do not match the actual content, collecting low-value visitors from the owner’s perspective.
- Link Internally and Provide Suggestions to Users
If you have an article on your site that has a high rejection rate, suggest other pages to the user that are related to that topic – you can do it in the form of a link directly in the text, accompanied by an appropriate CTA or a panel that will automatically show suggestions of similar pages within your site. In online stores you can suggest other products from a given category that are likely to meet customer requirements.
- Check the Google Analytics Implementation
Suspiciously high or low rejection rate can also result from improper pasting of Google Analytics code. If this is the case, the system will misinterpret the site’s input, causing the data to be falsified. A related issue will also be the lack or improper setting of events – a session with the start of a video on the page should not be counted as a rejected session – even though the user has not visited other subpages, he/she has performed a certain action on the page.