Making sure Google knows how you roll, not bounce
Author: Glenn Corbet
Did you know the way someone leaves your website is critical in how your site ranks? That's right, how they leave! Also, with a bit of cunning, you can specifically report back what your visitors are doing on your page, which Google will reward.
It’s a bit of a mind-bender, but once you get it, it changes how you think about your site and maximising both your SEO and your sales funnel.
Bounce rate and its importance
One of the key metrics Google uses to determine the quality of the content on any given page is “bounce rate”. It uses a complex algorithm to see whether your visitor likes the content. To keep it really simple, the time on the page is one indicator – the longer the better. Someone clicking back almost immediately is a bad thing - that’s called a bounce and signals the person didn’t like what they saw and went back to the Google results.
One would assume Google splits this data down even further, so someone closing the browser while on your page may in fact signal that they found what they were looking for, even if it’s a short visit. Clicking back but typing a different search (or just typing a different search straight into the address bar as you can these days) is probably not as bad as someone clicking back to the results and clicking another site from those same results, because the former signals the search query used may have yielded many irrelevant answers, rather than your site’s content being “wrong”.
Factors like these are why it’s so critically important to maximise the user experience on your website. Every action a user takes is being monitored.
How you can influence what Google sees as a bounce
Now, there’s another level to this based on the interaction with your page. There are many other actions taken on a page that aren’t monitored by default, such as document downloads, phone numbers, contact form submissions etc. As well as you knowing what content is being accessed, you need to let Google know that as well.
A simple example is a clickable phone number. If your phone number isn’t clickable, 1. you are annoying your visitors by less than optimal user experience, and 2. Google has no way of telling that you got a “conversion”, which signals your page was extremely relevant to the user, because they instigated contact.
Form submissions (like a contact enquiry form) are actually one of THE most important actions taken by a visitor. But Google doesn’t know about forms being filled in unless you specifically code them to do so.
A more complex example is a client of ours who has a certain tax calculator on their site. The calculator drives 60% or more of their organic search traffic each month. The challenge was most of that traffic bounced off the site after using the calculator, so Google thought people were “bouncing”. It also didn’t know there was interaction with the calculator (ie how popular it was), and even worse, the client wasn’t taking full advantage of the opportunity for lead generation.
We reconfigured the calculator code so that usage of the calculator fired an event with Google Analytics, which means anyone exiting that page is no longer counted as a bounce, and triggered a call to action and a lead capture form to appear after the calculate button was pressed.
The reduced bounce rate on this important page signals additional value to Google.
With the above improvements, Google scores the page far higher, and thereby increases the overall organic ranking of the site, which results in more even more traffic.
Getting your website firing on all cylinders needs an expert eye from someone with up-to-date training on all aspects of the impacts of Google changes, as well as technology changes from Apple and Microsoft.