What is bounce rate?
When a visitor comes to your blog or website, either on the homepage or on some post, and leaves without seeing any other webpage, it is called a “bounce“.
In other words, a “bounce” is a visitor that leaves after seeing only one webpage on your blog or website.
And the percentage of people “bouncing” off your site is the bounce rate.
Bounce rate = Number of visitors seeing just one page * 100 / Total number of visitors
A visitor sent by a search engine bounces…
When a visitor bounces, he or she can either be hitting the “back” button, or can type another URL in the address bar and move on to that website.
Visitors coming from search engines and bouncing off by hitting the “back” button is something that you should be concerned about.
This is because search engines like Google have started noting such behavior. When your visitors do this, search engines notice that they sent you a visitor, but the visitor bounced and came back to the search engine to look for more results.
And how a search engine interprets it – Impact on SEO
This implies that this visitor did not find what he was looking for at your blog or website. In other words, it means that the visitor has voted negatively for your site.
What does this indicate to an intelligent search engine like Google? That your blog or website is not very relevant for the search term that the visitor used!
And guess how the search engine would react? It would push your blog or website down on its SERPs for that search term! Now this is SEO disaster.
High bounce rate hurts your SEO
When a visitor sent to your blog or website by a search engine bounces, it means that he did not find what he was looking for at your blog or website.
The search engine views this as a vote against your site, and pushes your blog or website down on its SERPs!
Of course, bounce rate is only one of the many factors that search engines consider. However, with SEO, little things add up. So, the only option for you is to reduce your bounce rate.
How to reduce the bounce rate
There are a few simple things that you can do in order to reduce the bounce rate.
The question that needs to be asked is: Why do visitors bounce? It can be because:
- They did not find what they were looking for
- They found what they were looking for, but still didn’t see any other page or post
Well, there isn’t much you can do for the first. At times, your blog or website can come up in the SERPs for irrelevant searches.
(For example, my post “Keyword density – What is right, what is wrong” often comes up in the SERPs for the search term “What is right what is wrong”. Now clearly, this post is irrelevant for the people searching for this term – and they mostly bounce)
But there are some things you can do for the second category of people.
1. Have meaningful internal linking of posts
The idea here is to have various means of highlighting the content of your blog to the visitors.
Maybe you can have a list of related posts at the bottom of each post, or you can have a “people who liked this post also liked” type of list.
This way, your readers would come to know about other content of your blog or website without having to search for it.
This would increase the chances of them reading more than just one post or page on your site, and therefore, decrease your bounce rate.
To know more about different ways of highlighting your content, please read “7 ways to implement internal linking of your posts for better SEO“.
2. Have a welcome message for visitors
Now this is a little extra that you can have for your search engine visitors.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could present a customized message to the visitors from search engines, and highlight your best posts there?
The good news is that you can! You can show a message specifically to search engine visitors, and list your best posts there. Or, you can list posts that are relevant to the search terms used by the visitor!
There are many plugins available for this for various blogging platforms.
What not to do to reduce the bounce rate
We saw the ways of reducing the bounce rate – using these techniques, you can decrease the bounce rate meaningfully.
However, many people try to reduce the bounce rate artificially. Some examples:
- “Click for more” or “Read more” links (on pages other than archive pages)
- Posts broken into multiple pages, each page containing just a few paragraphs
If at all, these methods would artificially decrease your bounce rate. However, it is more likely that visitors would get annoyed by this, and would never come back!
My advise – stay away from these, and employ only genuine ways of reducing your bounce rate.