There is still no truly conclusive evidence about how bounce rates affect your search engine rankings, but let’s assume they do for a moment…
If a visitor comes to your site, views one page, and then leaves, this is viewed as a ‘bounce’. If, for instance, your site is slashdotted, Dugg or stumbledupon, and the link is to a single page of relevance to the visitor, they will likely read it and vanish back to where they came from. You could therefore be hit with an awful lot of bounces in an hour or day.
If those bounces affect your search engine rankings, the failure to engage those quick visitors could have a noticeable effect on the SERPs. Not only that but you also need to be asking yourself why those fleeting visitors did just bounce straight out of your site? After all, that is surely a missed opportunity to capture some new subscribers to your newsletter, show special offers that may have led to sales or leads, offer related relevant content to a new audience, and so on.
If bounce rates don’t matter to rankings, then all well and good from an SEO/SEM point of view. But even if if they don’t matter to rankings, then you still need to work on how you keep people on your site by making your site sticky, adding valuable content, keeping visitors churning around your site rather than just hitting the back button or closing the tab. After all, it is those site visitors who will potentially buy from you, not the search engines!
So, are you thinking today about how you prevent people from leaving your site after viewing only one page and therefore reduce your bounce rate? And do you actually know which areas of your site are generating the most bounces right now?
Web analytics that show real time results are vital in assessing the bounce rate on your site, and helping you to deal with it. And if it turns out that bounce rates do affect your SERPs then surely it is better to have started dealing with the problem sooner rather than later?