The rebound frequency is one of those factors able to make whoever runs a website to “lose his good sleep”. We were saying this on the insight we published a few times ago: there is no such thing as an absolute value to refer to, as the bounce rate depends on lots of factors and the nature of the site itself. However, a rate too high could depend on some errors and issues on the SEO side as well: let’s try and find out more.

A high bounce rate could be a sign of SEO problems

Even if it does not directly impacts on ranking, the bounce rate is an element that must be monitored and analyzed: a high value, if correctly measured, can in fact be a symptom of deeper issues of the site, such as shortcomings on user experience or a bad users targeting, and could more generally be a spy for SEO weaknesses.

Understanding the bounce rate’s metric

In order to interpret the bounce rate’s metric the right way we need to analyze:

  • Intent and behaviour of users, modalities of interaction with the pages.
  • Site tipology.
  • Tipology and quality of landing page.
  • Tipology of contents.
  • Tipology of business field.
  • Traffic quality.
  • Tipology of marketing channel.
  • Tipology of visitor.
  • Tipology of device used.

If, after all these assessments, the bounce rate is high or negative, the moment has come to intervene: among the most frequent ones there could be a low pages loading speed, a low quality design of the pages, a missing match between content and keywords, a poor mobile optimization and so on.

To only focus on the rebound frequency and try to fix its rate still is not useful to solve the core problem. It is instead useful to understand why the bounce rate is high and solve the detected criticalities, because this is the optimization work that makes the most sense (and generates the most results) for site’s performance.

Delay of page loading

Speed has been a Google ranking factor for years now, so we should always give due consideration to any kind of aspect related to it: a slow site offers people a poor fruition and too long waiting times for page loading could push users to definitely leave the site for good. There are actually multiple interventions we can operate in order to optimize performance and speed, and the use of tools such as Google’s PageSpeed can give more practical indications about the most critical areas, like images optimization or the restriction of third-party scripts.

Ambiguous titles and snippets

We often say this: tag title and meta description should comprehensively and convincingly summarize the content offered on the web page. Sometimes, though, these snippets are not that well builded and this could mislead users, that click on a SERP link expecting a certain kind of answer that, once landed, they cannot really find on the page.

This can either be the result of an honest mistake or a straight attempt to do keyword clickbait, but the final effect is the same and the solution is immediate: to revision the page content and accordingly orientate both the title and meta description, trying to improve the offered text in order to intercept the true search intent of the visitors.

Technical errors

When the rebound frequency is exceptionally high and the analysis of the time spent on the page by users marks a presence only a few seconds long, there could be some technical issues such as empty pages, a 404 error or wrong loading.

In order to replicate the experience of the users we need to display the page according to the settings of the browser and device used the most by our audience, or check on Google Search Console if there are any relevant indications (Coverage report, for instance), searching for a quick solution.

Bad links from other sites

Some other times we are not even the real cause of the problem: as Amelia Willson on SEJ reminds us, it is also possible that a high bounce rate could depend on referral traffic, and on a link in particular bringing not qualified visitors or that have a type of misleading anchor texts and context.

Occasionally, this is the result of a poor copywriting work, where the writer or editor linked the site in the wrong part of the text or maybe made a mistake on the reference: when this happens, we can try to get in touch with the linking site and ask for the correction or total removal of the link.

In the most critical cases – even of negative SEO tactics – we may resort as nuclear option to Google’s disavow tool: to remove this bad links will not reduce the bounce rate, but will signal to the search engine not to take into account that specific connection in order to assess the quality and relevance of our site.

Affiliation’s landing page or single-page site

The SEO expert also indicates another specific case: who works with affiliations or own sites of one single page could naturally have a high bounce rate, without for that to be concerning. If you are an affiliate – says Willson – “the whole point of your page may be to deliberately send people away from your website to the merchant’s site”, therefore “you’re doing the job right if the page has a higher bounce rate”.

Same thing would be for a single-page website, “such as a landing page for your ebook or a simple portfolio site”: it is normal that sites such as these “to have a very high bounce rate since there’s nowhere else to go”.

Low quality or not optimized contents

Users might rebound from site because its contents are just plain bad, therefore working from a SEO copywriting perspective could bring direct and immediate results, increasing the time spent by people to actually read what it is published on the pages.

Bad UX

The presence of ads, pop-ups, the incessant appearing of subscription buttons and other intrusive CTAs could be one of the reasons pushing users to prematurely abandon the site. Or, there could be some obstacles on the navigational path created for users, like a missing search box or menu voices not correctly viewable from mobile.

How to reduce bounce rate

This is the summed up picture on rebound frequency, but the Search Engine Journal’s article also suggests us some best practices that could be useful to solve the problems.

First intervention is on the relation between content and Research snippets: “Whatever you’re advertising in the SERPs, your content needs to match and live up to the hype”. For that, “Don’t call your page an ultimate guide if it’s a short post with three tips, Don’t claim to be the “best product” if your user reviews show a 3-star rating” and so on. Moreover, it is important to keep relevant elements in the “above the fold” part of the page, the first one shown to users.

Great attention must be dedicated to technical aspects too: the site must be fast, minor elements reduced and the navigation within the site (or a long page of contents) optimized, in order for all these elements to truly contribute to provide a better experience to people, encouraging them to stay on the site rather than abandon it immediately.