Bounce Rate, Part of the Google Quality Metric?

August 1st, 2008

This is what I call wacky Friday, when I get to imagine what could or might be true. It basically is nothing backed up by facts, but might make for some interesting case study. Today, I wanted to dive more into bounce rate and what it is used for besides the obvious.

" Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page. Use this metric to measure visit quality – a high bounce rate generally indicates that site entrance pages aren’t relevant to your visitors. The more compelling your landing pages, the more visitors will stay on your site and convert. You can minimize bounce rates by tailoring landing pages to each keyword and ad that you run. Landing pages should provide the information and services that were promised in the ad copy. "

bouncerate.png Is it feasible to imagine Google using a bounce rate as a unit of measure for quality?   We all know inbound links can be a measure and the time span in which they are received, but it can not be the only measure they use.  So lets say for instance, a certain page had a very low bounce rate. Do you think Google might give them a higher SERP position over another similar page with a much higher bounce rate?  This of course is imagining they had very similar publish dates and other factors.

Jonty Pearce writes " My personal theory is that bounce rate will become a real key factor in the Google ratings in the future. A page with a low bounce rate and a long dwell time is indicative of a quality web page.

We have some of our key pages down at around 25%, but others are in the 60-80% range. We have found that links such as “related items” and adding in more pictures as well as sharpening up the text on a page can all reduce bounce rates. It’s hard work and needs a key attention to detail, but you do see the results coming through. "

I have to agree that it is possible that bounce rate could be a factor in rankings, but I don’t think it plays a strong role compared to such as inbound links.  I think we can both agree it will serve a stronger purpose in the future.


In 2007, SEOmoz compiled Search Engine Ranking Factors 2 and bounce rate was lumped in as an addition to many other things.

" Metric of click-through-rate, time spent on a page/site, direct navigation via bookmarks, etc. that Google may be measuring through use of their toolbar, free wifi, Google analytics, etc. (note that this is purely speculation as Google has never publicly admitted to monitoring or recording this data). "

It definably goes to show that others have had the same thoughts way before they ever crossed my mind, but the actual issue was only ranked 2.8 (moderate importance) out 5.  Once again, I do believe it is a factory, but not a strong one.

On the Flip Side

You do have to stop and think about the very small portion of sites / users that do not run Google products or services.  It does not seem fair to penalize them because they don’t like Google Analytics or Toolbar.  I imagine if "bounce rate" was a unit of measure it could have a "learning curve" to compensate for non-Google users.  I agree it all seems a little far fetched, but it could be more of a reality than we think.

Posted in Google