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How Bounce Rate Impacts Your Website SEO

How Bounce Rate Impacts Your Website SEO

Mallory Fetchu
October 26, 2022

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To understand how bounce rate impacts your SEO, let's first define what bounce rate is. According to the Oxford dictionary, bounce rate is “the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page.” This happens when a website visitor lands on your website from either a search engine results page or a direct search for your site and then hits the back button or exits out of the page before taking another action.

How does bounce rate impact your site’s SEO?

This is where Search Engine Optimizers (SEOs) have a differing opinion on how bounce rate impacts your website SEO. The largest issue, in my opinion, is that a high bounce rate tells me that your website is not doing its primary job, which is to convert visitors into leads. This could be due to a number of factors, including things like:

  • Poor website design, which is impacting user experience — users cannot find what they’re looking for, so they leave and go elsewhere.
  • Lack of call-to-actions — the user leaves simply because you did not provide an opportunity for them to take the next action.
  • Poor website copy — your web copy may not be effectively communicating your company’s message, product, or service or has language that is confusing to your visitors. This is a sign of poor content to Google and can directly impact your rankings.

Let’s dive deeper into these points.

Bounce Rate & Poor Website Design

Poor website design will impact user experience, and this is one of the primary reasons why your website would have a consistently high bounce rate across the board. If all pages of your website, regardless of intention, have a high bounce rate, this is telling me that users cannot find what they’re looking for, so they are leaving and going elsewhere. If you took this a step further and also factored in time on page, and both metrics were negative, I would say with almost 100% certainty that you need to go back to the drawing board and start with revamped wireframes to ensure your website is built in a way that users can easily navigate and find what they are looking for in a timely manner.

Lack of CTAs

You could have a beautifully designed website with great images and still have a high bounce rate if you are not giving the user a clear call-to-action. What should they do next? Many people don’t realize how much we, as marketers have to guide website visitors. We can’t expect them to do anything without a little nudge and direction. There are so many opportunities to convert visitors — blog subscriptions, newsletter sign up, resource downloads, etc. It is our job to make sure we are giving visitors a clear call-to-action at every stage of their journey.

Poor Website Copy

Much like a lack of CTAs, your website could be beautifully designed with a good sitemap that's easily navigable, but if your website copy is off base, there’s a good chance your website will have a high bounce rate. If a visitor does not quickly understand what your company offers, they are likely to bounce after the first page. Take a look at this recent article where we outline writing copy that converts to learn how to avoid misalignment between what you talk about and what you write about.

The list above is not exhaustive, ask any SEO expert how bounce rate affects your SEO, and they will probably all give a slightly different answer. Some will even say a high bounce rate isn’t bad, given some pages on your website will inevitably have a high bounce rate, like a landing page or a product launch page. Some will say it directly impacts your rankings, although Google says it is not a direct ranking factor. And others will say they are indifferent.

In my opinion, while bounce rate does not directly affect your rankings, it is an important metric in terms of how well your website is working for you. Is it bringing the right visitors to you? Is it converting those visitors into leads? Is it effectively telling your brand’s story? Taking a look at your bounce rate may be able to help you understand the answers to these questions. So while bounce rate does not have a direct impact on SEO in Google’s eyes, it is something that still needs to be measured and accounted for during marketing reporting.SEO Audit