Google search agents have consistently and plainly specified that they do not use Google Analytics data to rank websites.
However, there are discrepancies in between what Google says and what SEOs believe.
Regardless of Google’s public statements, some search online marketers continue to think that bounce rate is in some way a ranking element.
Why do they believe this? Is there any credibility to the claims against Google’s public declarations?
Does Google use bounce rate to rank web pages?
[Suggested Read:]Google Ranking Aspects: Truth Or Fiction
The Claim: Bounce Rate As A Ranking Aspect
As recent as Q3 2021, acknowledged and respected resources have perpetuated the misconception that bounce rate is a ranking element.
Rand Fishkin, Founder of MOZ, tweeted in May 2020 that “… Google uses (relative) bounce rate (or something that’s quite darn close) to rank websites.”
Screenshot from Buy Twitter Verified Badge, June 2022 Backlinko published a post (June 2020) about bounce rate saying that “bounce rate might be utilized as a Google Ranking element. “They cite an industry study they ran and claim it found a connection between first-page Google rankings and bounce rate. Screenshot from Backlinko.com, June 2022 Later the very same year, Semrush enhanced this claim in December 2020, saying,” Bounce rate is an essential ranking aspect.”They did not provide proof to support the claim. Screenshot from Semrush.com, June 2022 HubSpot included bounce rate in a rundown of” all 200 ranking aspects” in a cheat sheet
to Google’s recognized ranking consider July 2021. Bounce rate is included as an element twice under”site-level factors “and under”user interaction,” with no supporting evidence for their claim. Screenshot from Hubspot.com, June 2022 So, let’s have a look at the proof, shall we? The Evidence: Bounce Rate As A Ranking Element In”How Browse Works, “Google states,”
… we utilize aggregated and anonymized interaction data to evaluate whether search results relate to inquiries.”< img src="// www.w3.org/2000/svg%22%20viewBox=%220%200%20969%20325%22%3E%3C/svg%3E "alt="
Is Bounce Rate A Google Ranking Element?”width=”969″height=”325″data-src=”https://cdn.Best SMM Panel.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/5-how-search-works_relevance-of-web-pages-63594638c5b10-sej.png”/ > Screenshot from Google Browse, June 2022 The unclear wording here has caused lots of presumptions about what”interaction information “Google utilizes to notify its machine learning systems. Some online marketers believe the” interaction information”consists of bounce rate. They utilize a handful of studies to support this hypothesis. The Backlinko research study
discussed above ran a subset of domains from their own data set through Alexa to determine a site-wide time on website. They discovered that the average time on website for a Google first-page outcome is 2.5 minutes.
Screenshot from Backlinko.com, June 2022 The research study goes on to clarify:” Please remember that we aren’t recommending that time on
site has a direct relationship with greater rankings.
Naturally, Google might utilize something like time on website or bounce rate as a ranking signal(although they have previously rejected
it ). Or it may be the truth that high-quality content keeps individuals more engaged. Therefore an about time on website is a byproduct of top quality content, which Google does measure. As this is a correlation study, it’s impossible to identify from our information alone.” Brian Dean confirmed in reply
to a comment that the research study did not really look at bounce rate (or pageviews). Screenshot from Backlinko.com, June 2022 The Backlinko research study, which supposedly found a connection in between first-page Google rankings and bounce rate, did not take a look at bounce
rate. Rand Fishkin specified that Google uses relative bounce rate to rank websites, and discussed this topic with Andrey Lipattsev, Browse Quality Elder Strategist at Google Ireland, in 2016.
Rand explained tests he had been running where he would ask people to do a search, click the seventh result, and after that observe over the next 24 hr what happened to that page’s ranking for that query.
The outcomes were inconclusive.
In seven to eight tests, rankings improved for a day or two. Rand stated the rankings did not alter in 4 to five tests.
Andrey responded that he believes it’s more likely that the social discusses, links, and tweets (which are essentially links) toss Google off briefly till they can establish that the “noise” is unimportant to the user intent.
Both the Backlinko research study and Rand’s experiments helped shape the bounce rate myth. But the research study didn’t take a look at bounce rate, and Rand’s experiments did not prove a causational relationship in between user behavior and ranking.
[Download:] The Complete Google Ranking Aspects Guide.
Does Bounce Rate Affect Browse Rankings?
Google has specified that bounce rate is not a ranking element for over a decade.
“Google Analytics is not used in search quality in any way for our rankings.”– Matt Cutts, Google Browse Central, February 2, 2010.
“… we don’t use analytics/bounce rate in search ranking.”– Gary Illyes, Web Designer Trends Analyst at Google, Buy Twitter Verified Badge, May 13, 2015.
“I believe there’s a little bit of mistaken belief here that we’re taking a look at things like the analytics bounce rate when it concerns ranking websites, and that’s certainly not the case.”– John Mueller, Web Designer Trends Expert at Google, Webmaster Central office-hours, Jun 12, 2022.
Why Google Does Not Utilize Bounce Rate As A Ranking Factor
There are technical, sensible, and financial reasons it is improbable that Google would use bounce rate as a ranking factor.
This can be summarized by looking at 3 primary facts:
- What bounce rate steps.
- Not all websites utilize Google Analytics.
- Bounce rate is easily controlled.
What Does Bounce Rate Step?
A lot of the confusion around bounce rate can be cleared up once individuals understand what bounce rate really determines.
Bounce rate is a Google Analytics metric that determines the portion of single-page sessions (no secondary hits) to your website divided by the overall sessions.
Image developed by author, June 2022 Online marketers frequently misinterpret this metric to indicate that the web page did not provide what the user was trying to find. However, all a bounce implies is that a quantifiable event(secondary hit)did not occur. Technically speaking, Google can’t understand how long a user invests
on a page unless a 2nd hit takes place. If a user spends 2.5 minutes reading the webpage(as the Backlinko
research study found correlates with page rank)and then exits, it will count as a bounce since they did not send out any subsequent hits to GA. So, bear in mind that bounce rate does not necessarily suggest a bad user experience. Users may click on a result, read it, and leave because their query was pleased.
That’s a successful search, and it does not make good sense for Google to penalize you for it. This is why Backlinko’s study, taking a look at the time on the page, does not support the claim that bounce rate is a ranking aspect. [Discover:] More Google Ranking Element Insights. Not All Websites Utilize Google Analytics While Google Analytics is a widely-used analytics tool, not all websites utilize it.
If Google utilized bounce rate as a ranking aspect, it would have to deal with websites with the GA code in a different way than those without the GA code.
If sites without the GA code were not graded by bounce rate, they would theoretically have higher flexibility to publish whatever content they wanted.
And if this held true, it would be illogical for any marketer to use the GA code. You see, Google Analytics is a “freemium” service. While many companies utilize their service totally free, big companies pay a month-to-month charge for more advanced features.
The paid version is called GA 360, and rates begins at$ 150,000 yearly. There are 24,235 business presently using GA 360. That equates to$3,635,250,000 per
year (on the low end.) Utilizing bounce rate as a ranking element is not in Google’s
monetary interest. Bounce Rate Can Be Quickly Controlled Some
of you might still not be encouraged. You may have even observed a correlation between typical position improving and bounce rate reducing in your daily practice. While bounce rate and typical ranking may correlate, they
certainly are not dependent on each other. What occurs when you increase your bounce rate? Do the rankings fall back to where they were? Bounce rate is easy to manipulate, and you can try this experiment yourself. You will need to increase and reduce your bounce rate for this test while comparing the average
position for a search question with time. Keep in mind that the bounce rate is sessions with zero secondary hits/
all sessions. So, all you require to do to minimize your bounce rate is send a secondary hit.
You can include a 2nd pageview occasion using Google Tag Manager. Do not make any other changes on-page or off-page; chart your average rankings over three months. Then eliminate this extra pageview tag. Did your average rankings increase and
reduce in unison with customizing the bounce rate? Below is a graph of a fast variation of this research study on my own website; one that shows no correlation in between bounce rate and typical position. Image created by author, June 2022 Our Decision: Bounce Rate Is Absolutely Not A Ranking Factor< img src ="https://cdn.searchenginejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/rf-definitely-not-30-614c56b8b46b2-sej.png"alt="Is Bounce Rate A Google Ranking Factor?"/ > No, bounce rate is not a Google ranking element. Bounce rate is not a trusted measurement of the importance of webpages– and Google has consistently said it does not use it for rankings. With big industry names like Rand and Backlinko putting their weight behind bounce rate as a ranking factor, confusion is reasonable. Professionals have actually checked this user signal with varying results. Some experiments might have shown a connection between bounce rate and SERP rankings in particular scenarios. Other experiments have not done that, but people reference them as if they’re proof.”Validated ranking element” requires a high degree of evidence.
Nobody has shown a causal relationship. You need to watch out for this in SEO, even when checking out trusted sources. SEO is made complex.
Google agents and market pros like to joke that the answer to
every SEO concern is: “It depends.”We’re all searching for methods to discuss success in SERPs. But we require to avoid leaping
to conclusions, which can cause people to invest resources in improving unofficial metrics. Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Best SMM Panel< img src="// www.w3.org/2000/svg%22%20viewBox=%220%200%20760%20300%22%3E%3C/svg%3E "alt ="Ranking Elements: Fact Or Fiction? Let's Bust Some
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