Do you have any actual testing-backed evidence or -- preferably -- confirmation from Google that they use bounce rate as an SEO factor? Or is this simply your own speculation (or someone else's speculation that you read somewhere)?
Because simple logic tells me they would not give it much weight, if they even look at it at all.
First, if a website owner isn't using Google Analytics, Google has no idea what the "bounce rate" is for a given page. Seriously, they do not.
They do not have access to the server logs for any site that they don't own, and they have no access to any visitor behavior information for sites that don't run Analytics.
Even if we get paranoid and figure they have some sort of back door in the Chrome browser that would allow them to spy on the sites viewed by those who use it for non-anonymous browsing, Chrome's market share last I checked was less than 25%. Meaning that more than 3/4 of all web browsers are not
The folks at Google are smart, but they're not mind-readers. If the site I'm visiting isn't using Analytics, and if I'm part of the 3/4 of the people online who aren't
using Chrome, there is no way they have any idea what I'm up to.
And there's no way of determining whether those relatively few Chrome users comprise a statistically valid sample of the whole web browsing population (I'd say there's a better than reasonable chance they do not
) so the math whiz kids at Google would certainly know better than to try to extrapolate Chrome data (if it even exists) to the web as a whole.
Therefore, they do not know the "bounce rate" for a significant portion of the web pages and searches that take place. Do you seriously think they'd use bounce rate as a significant ranking factor when there are so many pages, so many searches, for which they do not
have any information at all?
Second, they have no way of knowing if someone is using a tabbed browser and continuing to look at the first site while also checking out a second site from the search results to see if it gives a different perspective.
I do this all the time, myself. I'm sure I'm not the only one. I will often have a dozen tabs open at once, several of them representing sites I'm visiting as the result of a single search. It might look as though I'm "pogo sticking" all over the place, when in fact I'm actually simply opening multiple results one after the other so I can review them all at leisure.
And even if I do hop into one site, read one page and leave... that doesn't mean the page was bad. It might mean the page was excellent
and answered my question right away.
Remember? That's the kind of thing Google wants
. Pages that answer a user's query right away. That's what the whole Knowledge Graph thing is all about.
This is why "user engagement" is a bogus metric when it comes to influencing search results. Sometimes I click further in to a site because it's interesting and I want to read more (a good thing)... and other times I'm clicking further because the page I landed on didn't
answer my question, but I'm hoping another nearby page might be closer to what I'm looking for (not such a good result). Sometimes I leave right away (a "bounce") because the page was completely off the mark (a terrible result) and sometimes it's because I found what I was looking for immediately (an excellent result).
Google is not going to "reward" a site simply because people click through to additional pages. They know a "bounce" doesn't necessarily mean a site did a bad job, and that clicking through doesn't mean it's doing a great job.
Now, if you've got some kind of statistically valid testing or confirmation from someone at Google that proves I'm off the mark here, I'd really like to see it. Seriously! I'm the first to admit I don't know everything, and I'm always ready to learn something new.
It's just that based on what I understand right now about Google, statistics and search, the whole "user engagement" and "bounce rate" metrics don't add up as significant search ranking factors.