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What does Bounce Rate mean in SEO?

The bounce rate refers to how often someone, after entering your website, clicks the back button on their browser to go back to where they were or leaves your site by some other method (e.g types the URL of another site in the browser).

In other words, and this is a very important point of definition to ensure it is not confused with other terms like Dwell Time or Pogo Sticking - it is the percentage of your website traffic that only ever visits one page on your site.

High bounce rates on their own are not necessarily a bad thing. Much depends on three other factors:
  1. what is your bounce rate like compared to your competitors?
  2. how long does it take before a visitor bounces and how does this compare to your competitors? (aka Time to Bounce)
  3. What do they do after they bounce? Do they carry on looking for further information (a signal that your site did not completely meet their needs)?

Many e-commerce websites have a high bounce rate because people come in, check the price and then leave again. They may come back later to buy but while they are shopping around they won't be staying for long.

By the nature of shopping this means that most e-commerce websites have a high bounce rate so if yours does it doesn't necessarily mean you may lose your rankings.

The same is true of Time to Bounce. The figure in itself is not that important until you compare it with a website's competitors. Shopping sites and technical forums often have a short time to bounce. The internet user visits, sees the information they want quickly, and leaves.

All this said one of the keystones to good SEO is to try and reduce your bounce rate and time to bounce so that search engines feel you are significantly better than your competitors. In other words you are trying to make a Sticky Website.

There are many ways to do this and is a good example. You arrive and see the price of the product but the website is laid out in a way that will make you want to stick around by using features such as:
  • Reviews of the product
  • Information on possible alternatives to that product
  • Products which other buyers purchased with this product
  • High levels of detail about the product
  • etc.

I'm Tim Hill, a Search Engine Optimisation and Online Marketing specialist. I created this site to help others understand that SEO is not a mysterious black art!.

If your a newbie try the Getting Started in SEO page, otherwise feel free to dig around and learn more.

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