Why Bounce Rate Can Help Local SEO

Written by: Jason Bayless | May 17, 2016

If you want to master local SEO, then you need to understand the bounce rate and how it works. The bounce rate tells you whether or not people who come to your site decide to stick around and read more. A high bounce rate means that you are not retaining your traffic, and that is a bad thing. In this post, we will talk about bounce rate in detail and discuss ways you can reduce your bounce rate. It’s one of the most important statistics in local SEO, so having a deep understanding of it will make you a much better marketer.

When someone searches for a keyword and your site comes up as a suggested search, users have to pick on your site from among many options. Ideally, you are near the top of the results page, but the important thing is that there is a lot of competition. So if they decide to visit your site, the user knows that there are a lot of alternatives a click away.

This adds up to mean that if there is the slightest bit of frustration that users get from your site, or if it is not clear, or if the design is unpleasant, users have a strong temptation to leave the site and go to one of those alternatives. Your bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave after only seeing one page on your site. It is a measure of how frequently people turn around and leave after clicking your site.

If you have a high bounce rate, then something in your site is turning people off. You need to find out what it is as soon as possible. Google does not like sites with high bounce rates, so you risk losing your local search spotlight to another company. That means it is critical that you find and fix the problem as soon as possible. There are many possible contributing factors, and it might not be obvious which one is the problem. There might also be more than one issue that pushes people away.

To start learning more, you need to carry out some tests. First, think of one design element that you think is contributing to the problem. Create an A/B test where you change that element to something more user-friendly. Then run the test for a while, serving one variation of the page to each person. At the end of the trial period, look to see which design had a lower bounce rate.
This system is not perfect: it is hard to test more than one design element at a time, especially if you do not have high traffic. The less traffic you get, the longer you have to wait before you get results with statistical significance.

If the testing process does help you, then you should consider trying out different design elements and testing them too. This can help you sculpt your site and make it more attractive to visitors. After all, the main problem is that people do think your site will offer value to them, but change their minds once they arrive. So if you can just convince them to hold on and give you a chance, you will enjoy the high traffic that your SEO efforts have brought you. Traffic is just one part of the equation: bounce rate tells you how much of that traffic leaves right away and becomes impossible to convert.