Bounce rate is an important metric to keep an eye on, but is it a ranking factor for Google?
David: Bounce rate is not a ranking factor.
Dave: No? They don’t care about your bounce rate at all? So, what does Google consider your bounce rate?
David: Google doesn’t consider your bounce rate.
Dave: At all?
Dave: I didn’t know that.
David: No. A lot of people spread the rumor, but Google’s explicitly said they don’t.
Dave: Because I thought the bounce rate is, basically, if people go to your site, and then they leave immediately. And typically, it’s going to go through search. They’re going to search for something, and they go on your site, and then they immediately go away. Isn’t that going to affect your rankings?
David: So, we’ve talked about bounce rate in the past, and this is a different topic, but it’s really valuable. So, what does bounce rate mean from a technical perspective? Someone visited a page, didn’t take any action, and left. If someone does a search, what is the best material for a waterproof tarp?
David: And they land on a blog post that goes through different materials for tarps and the benefits of each. And they go, wow, I’ve answered my question. They see a phone number at the top of the page, and they call it. And then they bounce out. Is that a bad thing? No, it’s a great thing.
Dave: That’s great for that particular case.
David: Right. But that’s a bounce.
David: And so, Google doesn’t know the difference between that bounce and any other bounce. Right? So, if Google were to use bounce rate as a ranking factor, blog posts would never rank because the bounce rate on blog posts is always high. And you can look at any blog in any analytics data, and you’ll see that. But in reality, the nature of a blog is, here’s a question, the answer to what you have, and people bounce, but it could be the best, most well-written blog posts on the topic. So, that’s one of the issues. Second of all, in universal analytics, bounce rate is a pretty useless metric because it’s just based on page views. But with GA4, they weren’t even going to put a bounce rate in GA4 until everybody got on their case for it. Google Analytics 4 has an engagement rate. Which is kind of the opposite of bounce rate, right? Because Google Analytics 4 is tracking events. So, Google Analytics 4 says someone visited a page and scrolled. That’s an event. The scroll’s an event. Right. You click on the page. You click the phone number, you click on, even if it’s a navigator, even if it’s a hold down to scroll up button or how we subconsciously click on pages as we read down the page, right? Those are all clicks, and those are all engagement. So GA4 measures engagement rate, which is a much better way of seeing how people interact and value your page. So, for instance, a blog post could see the engagement rate as I scroll down and read the entire blog post and say, oh, people really engaged with that visit. So, that is a much better way to evaluate the effectiveness of a visit short of conversion. Right? Google gave in to people and said, okay, fine, we’ll let you look at bounce rate, which is basically the opposite calculation. You know, 100% minus whatever your engagement rate is. So now, with GA4, the bounce rate number is actually more accurate. Because it excludes engagement, but it still is not a great way to measure the effectiveness of a site or for Google to evaluate for search engine rankings. Right? And they’ve explicitly said they do not measure bounce rate. You could be Google paranoid and say, well, Google’s going to lie to us and not going to tell us what the real ranking results are. I think they are being honest in this case because of the reasons that bounce rate would be a really bad way to measure the effectiveness of a visit. So, yeah. I’m clearly not in the bounce rate as a Google ranking factor camp. And I think it would be a really bad idea if it were to be a ranking factor.
Dave: Okay. Got it.