Much has been made of website authority and how it supports SEO management. Of course a website’s authority in a given space or industry is supposed to be in direct correlation to the site’s search engine ranking. But how do Google algorithms evaluate a website’s authority? It’s important to understand that most indicators search engines examine to make that evaluation are secondary. Simply put, algorithms examine how people interact with websites to determine if those sites are considered authorities in their respective industries. One important point of interaction is level of activity on the actual site.
If there’s a lot of activity in any given site visit, that must mean that the site is useful, engaging and satisfies the needs of the visitor to a distinct degree. However, if the visitor only browses the landing page they clicked on to enter the site, and only for a short period of time, leaving the site entirely, it could mean that the site is not suitable for the searcher’s needs and does not serve as a valuable authority in the space.
Leaving a website without examining its various pages or clicking on its links or engaging the business by filling out a contact form is commonly called a bounce. When visiting from search results pages, a bounce is often considered bad. The reason is oftentimes people who visit from a search results page are relatively unfamiliar with your business. If a site visitor exits a website almost as quickly as they entered it without even checking out any of the resources on the site, or clicking on its ancillary pages, it could because the site simply isn’t meeting their needs.
Think about it this way, if you walk into a shop because the sign outside read “Candy Paradise” in bright colorful letters and you get inside expecting to find a candy story but instead realize you’ve entered a consulting firm for a woman named Candy Paradise, the first thing you’re likely to do is leave. The shop simply did not meet your need.
It works the same way with Google, Yahoo and Bing. If you are presented a website in the search results page that really doesn’t fit your search, you will likely leave quickly and not engage the site at all. This could be a good indicator to search engines that your website should not be ranked in that particular search. Now this is good for businesses that are being miscategorized for one reason or another and getting traffic not suitable for growth. After all, while personal trainer Candy Paradise does want foot traffic, she doesn’t necessarily want it coming from people who want to buy candy.
Of course, there are cases where high bounce rates are not a negative indicator of authority. In fact, new sites often have high bounce rates because the page that is ranked is one that focuses on a hot topic. Visitors read the page and then leave. And one-page websites, of course, will likely produce high bounce rates because…well, they only have the one page.
So because of this Google typically takes context into consideration when evaluating high bounce rates.
But if your business is a service-based one or one that has multiple products and services, it’s likely your high bounce rates indicate something is amiss with your website’s design or content.
Evaluating your website’s bounce rate becomes important when looking to climb the rankings and get access to those targeted site visitors Page 1 or 2 of Google search provides. When you do, keep in mind that there are many factors that contribute to a high bounce rate and bringing them down is a wholistic effort. Good useful content, seamless information flow and organization, excellent use of keywords and heading tags, and of course, accurate metatags that points to the onpage content and not the some unrelated audience target you’re trying to get to visit your site all help to keep your bounce rates low and your website authority high.
If you would like to know how a comprehensive SEO audit can help ferret out any issues that can contribute to a high bounce rate on your site, call Proctor Digital at 773.664.5819. We’d love to help!