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Organic Bounce Rates And Your Blog Posts

Ashley Bryan |

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March 12th 2018


What is “Bounce Rate”?

Simply put, Bounce Rate is counted when a visitor leaves from the same page that they arrived from, without taking further action.  “Further action” can be defined as moving to another page in the website or taking some action on the page such as downloading a file or submitting a form, in short: clicking something.  Google Analytics reports your website’s bounce rate, under “Acquisition > Channels”:

Organic bounce rate stats

You can really drill down in GA to find the bounce rates per channel (eg from Search Engines, Direct, from other websites etc) as well as per visitor segment, page, time frames and more.

Now,despite what many people think, time spent on the page is not the key parameter for “bounce rate”. So, you can have a bounce recorded if someone reads a page for 5 minutes but then leaves without taking further action.  It’s all about the interaction of your visitor with your website, not the time spent on pages.

 

What is Organic Bounce Rate?

The organic bounce rate metric shows the number of visitors who return to search results (Google search results importantly) from your website.  Google can of course measure this, and I believe, uses it as a ranking factor.  This makes sense, if we think about it.  Someone searches for your product or service on Google and the search returns a bunch of results, of which your website is one.  The customer clicks your search result and goes to your landing page. Now, say that visitor doesn’t find what they are looking for on your page and returns back to the Google search results.  (We’ve all done that right?)  Well, Google sees them return, or “bounce” back.  This is an Organic Bounce.  Now further, say 80% of people who land on that page from the Google search results (SERPs) view the page and bounce back to the search results.  That page has an 80% bounce rate, in simple terms.  Of course those people who go back to the Google search results will try other results and visit those pages.  What if one of those results is much better suited to their search and less people bounce back, say only 40% of visitors to that page bounce back to Google?  That page would have only a 40% bounce rate, right?  Which page do you think Google will consider more valuable, your page with an 80% bounce rate or your competitions bounce rate with only a 40% bounce rate (everything else being equal)?  Theirs, so Google may well lower the ranking of your page against theirs.  And if your whole website has a high average Organic Bounce Rate then Google may see your entire website as lower value and your whole website may have lower SEO potential than is desirable.

 

Is it better to have a high or low bounce rate?

Generally, having a low bounce rate is better. A low bounce rate means that the people who are visiting your entrance pages are going on to visit and interact with other pages or content on your website – which increases time on page.site figures, improves dwell time and in theory may increase your conversion rate (i.e. the rate at which your visitors take the desired action).

But things aren’t always as simple; sometimes a high bounce rate could be a good thing as it would mean that visitors acquired the information they needed from the entrance page (such as contact information, event information etc.). A low bounce rate, on the other hand, could also mean that your visitors are finding it hard to locate the information they require on your website. But for simplicity’s sake, we want Bounce Rates to be a slow as possible.

 

What is a “good” bounce rate on a website?

If we disregard situations where a higher bounce rate is acceptable, as outlined above, then we can make some broad generalisations.

A 26 to 40 percent bounce rate can be considered to be desirable; we want to strive for that. A bounce rate of 41 to 55 percent is average and generally needs work. A rate that’s between 55 and 76 percent needs to be looked at but whether it should be a source of concern will depend on the type of website. If a bounce rate is >80% that’s a cause for investigation.
Generally, anything above 70% should be worrying for everything outside of news, events, blogs and similar sites that generally attract single-page visits. If the bounce rate is too good to be true (less than 20 percent), it probably is and could be the result of an analytics implementation that is broken.

 

What does a high bounce rate mean?

A high bounce rate could mean two things: either your visitors are getting what they want within the entrance page – negating the need to delve further into your site – or the content that is contained in the entrance page is not relevant to the visitors. In the latter case, the traffic your site gets will not result in any conversions, leads or sales which makes your website to be of diminished commercial value for that search term.
If your website depends on your visitors viewing more than one page, then, having a high bounce rate means that your site is not performing as it should. For example, if the gateway to the rest of your

 

Your Blog posts can be a source of high Organic Bounce Rate

A primary purpose of your blog is to be informative, we want people to read those posts, and often they’ll spend several minutes doing that before leaving and …going back to the search results generating a “bounce”!  This is why our blog posts often have a good “time on page” value (dwell value) but a poor bounce rate.  Those posts are great to read but those visitors just don’t take any further action on your website, after reading your post. They have what they came for, which is information.  If you have many posts then your blog section average bounce rate may be high, like this:

bounce rates for blog vs rest of website

And this high Organic Bounce Rate for your blog section can push up your websites overall average bounce rate and potentially reduce your SEO and rankings.

 

Why do I have a high bounce rate?

There’re several reasons why your website has a high bounce rate. These include:

  • A slow loading website. People would rather leave than wait for a slow loading site.
  • Self-sufficient content on entrance pages. This is content that does not require the user to look for more information on other pages.
  • Misleading meta tags and meta descriptions. Visitors will leave once they find out the content on the page is not what was described in the meta tag and meta description (which generally display in the Google search results).
  • Technical errors and blank pages. Users will bounce if they don’t find anything on the page they visit.
  • Bad backlinks from other sites. A referring site could be sending unqualified visitors to your site, or the link could have a misleading or out-of-context anchor text.
  • Low quality and/or under optimised content.
  • A bad UX that turns visitors off. A website that’s difficult to navigate will turn users away.
  • An incorrect Google analytics setup that is producing false data.

 

How do you reduce your Organic Bounce Rate?

It makes sense that we want to reduce the instance of people leaving our website after they have read our blog posts (or any page actually) and increase the number of visitors going further into our website – this will reduce the bounce rate for the blog posts.  This is what we often want anyway: to get people to our blog, then into our website and become a customer, right?  But from just an SEO perspective, we want to get that bounce rate down.  So how can we achieve this?

Here are some ideas:

  • Obvious: ensure your blog post page loads quickly and is visually appealing
  • Focussing on creating fewer but longer (more substantial) blog posts. In other words, it would be better to spend the time writing one premium post that engages the audience, rather than several average posts.  For these longer posts put a quick menu at the top which readers can click to jump down to the sections within the post.  Like I have with this post at the top.
  • Including more images and infographics in Posts which can be clicked to enlarge.
  • Include clickable links in the post text to other sections of the website.

We should also:

  • Including video in posts!
  • Asking questions in posts in order to prompt discussion.
  • Supporting Posts with a more expansive social media effort.
  • Improve the user experience of your site. This includes doing things such as improving your site’s UI, reducing the page loading times for your site and eliminating annoying adverts and pop-ups.
  • Create a compelling call-to-action for all entrance pages. A compelling call-to-action reduces the bounce rate by increasing the chances of a user taking a positive
  • Make your website mobile friendly. If your site does not load correctly on mobile devices, your bounce rate will be high.
  • Fix the technical issues. Eliminate page loading errors and blank pages and ensure your Google analytics is set up correctly to get accurate data.

What are the organic bounce rates like for your blog posts?

Are you in the Sunshine Coast and need help with SEO?


Ashley Bryan is a Website Optimisation Consultant located on the Sunshine Coast in Australia. Follow Ashley: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube

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