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Panda Hates Bouncing

Posted by jtolman to Marketing Tips on June 13th, 2014

Bounce Rate has always been important, but the last three Panda releases have made it downright critical. Do you use Bounce Rate to improve your site’s search engine rankings and conversions? If not, your site probably has Panda and conversion problems you’re not seeing.

Common sense tells us everything prominent in Google Analytics matters to how Google ranks pages. Log into your GA account, and you see Bounce Rate as one of the few metrics shown right away. Go into Behavior | Site Content | All Pages, and there it is again.

Google expects you to use Bounce Rate (combined with other metrics) to improve the user experience.

Page Bounce Rates matter not only for how those pages rank but for how they affect the average Bounce Rate of the site. And if people are bouncing of your site they aren’t buying from you. Thus Bounce Rate also gives you some insight into where you can improve conversion.

So what is Bounce Rate?

Google’s definition differs from what the industry definition was before Google’s ascendancy to near monopoly. Previously, Bounce Rate was a calculation that included a time factor. For example, if visitors left your site after 2 seconds on the entry page, you’d not count that as a bounce.

Including the time factor means you don’t have a metric for seeing whether people continue into your site from a given entry page. Thus Google says you have a bounce if a visitor doesn’t click from the entry page to another page in your site.

GA also shows time on page; combining it with Bounce Rate gives some actionable information. For example, if dullpage.htm gets 100 vistors a day with an average time of 0:02 and 100% Bounce Rate you should probably just delete it.

Google see quick exit as a strong signal of a poor experience; it doesn’t want to serve those pages. Too many high bounce pages on a site, and the whole site is affected.

The fact that people exit after only one page is especially a problem for an e-commerce site; they aren’t entering your sales funnel.

What’s a “high” Bounce Rate?

There is no clear answer, though generally lower is better. Use Bounce Rate as an ongoing evaluation tool to see which pages are relatively weak. But don’t fixate on a specific number. It’s worthwhile to search online for articles on Bounce Rate and read various opinions, but start with this authoritative video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppgfjo6IIf4

If you haven’t worked with Bounce Rate yet, start with these three steps:

  1. Identify high bounce pages with toxic inbound links. It’s usually best to delete them. If your home page is high bounce, obviously you can’t delete it; have a pro redesign it.
  2. Determine your Acceptable Bounce Rate (ABR). If the mean bounce rate of your top 30 entry pages is 20%, make that your ABR for now.
  3. Improve the high traffic pages that are above the ABR; make the call to action more clear, remove extraneous text, maybe add a video, etc.
  4. For unimportant high Bounce Rate pages, enter this in the head tag: <META NAME=“robots” CONTENT=“noindex,nofollow”>

About the author. Mark Lamendola has been in e-commerce since 1997 and has been a Miva user for almost that whole time. For a small fee, he does analysis and advises other Miva users on their Panda and Penguin issues. Contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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