Spring is here, so it’s time for an overhaul of your SEO.There’s one key metric which should inform all the work you’re going to do to improve the position of your website in search engine results – the bounce rate.
What is a bounce rate?
For those who don’t know what that means, the simplest way of describing a bounce rate is this: the rate at which visitors to your site ‘bounce’ off the first page they come across, without going to other pages on your site. It isn’t defined by how long someone spends on that page. If you have 100 site visitors, and 25 look at one page, then leave without looking at another, that’s a bounce rate of 25%. On a website with more than one page, your bounce rate is the thing which shows whether your website content is working for you. It’s particularly important for the content on pages where visitors come to the site like your home page or blog. While Google has, in the past, denied that a bad bounce rate is a key dampener on a site’s page ranking, many SEO experts say evidence of low user engagement does seem to be a ranking factor.
How do you check it?
Look at your Google Analytics. That will show you the total number of visitors, where they are based, and the bounce rate for the past day, week, or a period of time you choose from your calendar. A high bounce rate – more than 50% of the visitors to your site – is an indication that something’s wrong. A good bounce rate is typically anything under 35%.
How can you improve it?
The simplest answer is to make your design and content more engaging.
- Is your design hampering the UX? Is your content too generic for your target audience?
- Make your home page visually appealing with useful buttons and links to other pages. Make sure links are working, and that things are where site viewers would expect them to be. A link to the Contact Us page is usually expected on the footer of a page, for example.
- Understand your target audience and their problems – and answer them. Use language they’ll understand and appreciate. If your blog posts engage your audience and give them links to other parts of the site, your bounce rate should improve.
- If your website is a single page, that will tend to have a higher bounce rate and you should bear that in mind. If you have a multiple page website, have you got the correct tracking code on all the pages? That could be a problem.
- Does your content match the keywords you’re using? If not, the visitors to your site might be disappointed with their result.
- The best method of reducing your bounce rate is to use rich content on a number of web pages.
- It’s worth looking at embedding video on your site. Video provides for higher levels of engagement than text and still images alone. Think about an instructional video on your home page and a great case study on your testimonials page, and linking between them.
- Other methods of improving engagement include using podcasting or embedding audio files on your site.
Importantly, you should also use a strong call to action on a number of pages – tell people what you want them to do, and to which other pages on your site you’d like them to go.
Don’t forget – great content doesn’t just improve SEO, it’s also more likely to convert your page viewers into customers.