Is it a Google ranking factor?

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Raise your hand if you are starting your SEO day with the goal of trying to improve your bounce rate …

Anybody? Anybody?

Too often SEO advice is passed on so often by so many different people that it can be difficult to tell fact from fiction.

And the bounce rate is just another victim of misinformation in the SEO community.

You’ve probably read SEO tips like this from Brian Dean of Backlinko, who backs this up with his own “industry study”.

Screenshot from Backlinko.com, September 2021

However, his “industry study” was quickly called “effective link bait” by the SEO community.

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It should have been a red flag when I saw a bounce rate associated with pogo-sticking, where it continued to spread false information.

Bounce rate associated with pogo-sticking as user experience signals.Screenshot from Backlinko.com, September 2021

To confirm, pogo-sticking is not a ranking factor. But I digress.

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So what is the truth? Is bounce rate a ranking factor? Does bounce rate impact your organic traffic?

Let’s investigate.

The claim: bounce rate as a ranking factor

Bounce Rate reminds me of those spring break reality TV shows; it is full of unrealistic expectations and ends up giving you hope. While the cast of “The Hills” appear to be locked up in a posh hotel in Tulum, they’re actually in a Motel 6 in Miami.

This is how I see the bounce rate when it comes to SEO.

So what is the bounce rate?

Bounce rate relates to the percentage of single engagement visits to your site. Google Analytics tracks the number of people who visit and leave your page without viewing other pages on your site.

Bounce rate doesn’t necessarily mean you need to improve the quality of your site. Your site’s user flow should be designed for your customer journey, not bounce rate.

Here are some myths, facts, and truths you should know about the impact bounce rate has on your rankings.

Bounce rate as a ranking factor: the evidence

On June 12, 2020, Google’s John Mueller confirmed that Google does not use bounce rate as a ranking factor in a webmaster hangout.

“I think there’s a bit of a misconception here that we’re looking at things like analytical bounce rate when it comes to website rankings, and that’s definitely not the case.”

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There is historical data to support this message.

On April 14, 2017, Gary Illyes from Google said on twitter, “the bounce rate is not a good signal.”

Twitter post on the bounce rate.Screenshot from Twitter.com, September 2021

And, in 2008, Google’s Matt Cutts said in a Sphinn forum, “bounce rates would not only be spammable but loud”.

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“Someone in the search industry recently sent me questions about how the bounce rate is done at Google, and I was like, ‘Dude, I have no idea things like rate rebound. Why don’t you talk to this nice Google Analytics evangelist who knows things like bounce rate? ‘ I don’t even meet the people who talk about it in my everyday life.

It’s safe to say that bounce rate as a ranking factor is a myth.

Does bounce rate affect search rankings?

Bounce rate does not directly affect organic rankings.

However, this indirectly affects other ranking factors that Google cares about – slow page speed, poor design, poor mobile optimization, etc.

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This is where the time on the page and the bounce rate meet. Together, these metrics can tell you that you’ve created a great user experience.

If your webpage has a low bounce rate and high visit time, your webpage is well placed.

High time on page indicates your content is engaging – and creating an engaging website is a much better use of your time than trying to maximize bounce rate.

Bounce rate as a ranking signal: our assessment

Bounce rate: is it a Google ranking factor?

No, the bounce rate is not a Google ranking factor.

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Bounce rate is just a metric – and Google has said repeatedly that it does not directly influence Google rankings.

Should you be tracking your bounce rate and trying to improve it? Yes, because this is a metric you can use to determine if your content is successful.

Improving your bounce rate won’t help you rank higher on Google. But lowering your bounce rate is usually a good indicator that your content is engaging, valuable, or useful.

Although most of the SEO community has dismissed this idea completely as a myth, it somehow persists.

So the next time a customer, colleague, peer, or boss comes to you with 100% certainty that bounce rate is a Google ranking factor (thanks to bad information they read), send them this article.

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Nothing!


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita / SearchEngineJournal

Bounce rate: is it a Google ranking factor?



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