First: Let’s make sure we’re talking bounce rate and not click back:

  • Bounce rate is when you don’t go to a second page on the same website.  Maybe you entered from search, a referral link, or direct load. You visit one page and read it from top to bottom.  You spend 15 minutes on the page, but never click to another page on the same website.  You finally leave the site by typing a new URL in, or following a link which leaves the site completely.
  • Click Back is when you reach a page from a search result and say “whoa, this sucks” and hit back in your browser, to find a more relevant site from the search results.  You come from search, and return to the same search results with one page in between.

bounce rate or click back

The difference?  Google could easily track the amount of time you spend on a site before clicking back to the search result that got you there.  To prove that Google knows if you’re coming back quickly sometimes you’ll even see the option “Block all ….“.  This is a big indicator to Google that the content on this page for this keyword search is of low relevance or quality, and probably should be demoted next time.

What is a good bounce rate?

Other than “lower”, there is no right number to what your bounce rate should be, unless you have experience with that type of content on multiple websites (An SEO agency is great for this knowledge).  For a blog like this a bounce rate of 90% isn’t bad.  If your site is highly informational and positioned to attract potential clients, then a bounce rate of 40-70% is probably appropriate.  If your site is entertainment based (lots of kitten pictures for people to flip through), then you would expect a bounce rate below 20%.

So, is bounce rate a ranking factor for Google?

Bounce Rate for SEO

Is it fair to compare content like this blog post, to a web site of kitten pictures by using a single metric like bounce rate?  No; no it is not.

In my opinion, bounce rate can’t be a ranking factor alone.  If a metric can’t be applied broadly to determine relevancy and quality, then it probably isn’t part of a search engine ranking algorithm used to return billions of results a day.

However, click back for a keyword could certainly be a ranking factor… especially if the searcher clicked “Block all…” indicating a human determined “this page sucks”.

So do me a favor and instead of hitting the back arrow now… read this other post I wrote about doing an SEO audit. Thanks!

Post filed under SEO.