Why does click through rate and bounce rate affect your rankings in the first place?
If you think about it, it makes total sense. When a user makes a search, they are going to click on the result that they think is the most relevant to them. If they stay on the page and are engaged, then this further proves that the original search result was helpful. So, together these 2 factors are a good indicator to the search engines that they are doing a good job and providing their users with what they are looking for.
What is Click Through Rate (CTR)
Click Through Rate (CTR) is a percentage measure of the amount of times your webpage appears in the search results for a particular phrase, to the amount of times users click on your search result listing and actually go through to your web page.
How to boost CTR
Meta tags. Writing a good page Title tag and meta description is probably the most effective way of increasing click through rates. Technically your title should be up to 55 characters in length and your description should be up to 155 characters in length.
The title tag, being the first line of text for your result listing, and in a bigger font, is the most crucial part of the text. If you place your main keyphrase at the begging of the title, then it is more likely to grab the user’s attention. Try to use all 55 characters in your title and make it read well, in a way to encourage the user to click through.
Meta description. This is displayed in the search results listings as the smaller text under the title of each listing. Here you have a bit more text to explain what your page is about and encourage the user to click through. Again, try to use your allotted space well, write your most important text at the begging, make it read well and engage the user.
Rich snippets. The new kids on the block for helping improve click through rate. Simple, easy to implement micro data for things like ratings can give your search result listing more appeal and make you stand out from the crowd. Showing 5 stars as a rating under your search listing, is eye grabbing attention. There are lots of other ways to show rich snippets as well, depending on the content of your page. You can learn more about schema.org rich snippets from here.
A Publish Date is another example of schema micro data and is great to place with an article or blog post, showing the user if the content is current, and also making your listing stand out again.
AMP. An Accelerated Mobile Page can help you stand out from the crowd in a mobile search result, as the AMP icon is displayed next to your listing. AMP pages also load super fast on a mobile network, making your bounce rate drop even more.
Permalink. The URL for your page should reflect the content, or title of the page. Make your URL easy to read, as it is also shown in the search results and can therefore help with click through rates.
What is Bounce Rate
A bounce from your website is a term used when a user lands on a page of your website from the search results, and then hits the back button to go back to the search results, quite often choosing, and so preferring, another result over yours. This is a simplified answer though, and as your webpage may have provided that user with the information they were looking for is not always true.
This is where Dwell Time comes into play. Dwell Time is the amount of time a user stays on your page, reading the information you have crafted into your content. So even if a bounce is reported, the amount of time the user spent on the page is taken into consideration.
How do the search engines know about bounces? Don’t worry, they are not spying on you or reading your Analytics. They can simply measure the time that the user clicked from the search results page, to the time that they came back and clicked on another result listing.
How to decrease bounces
Responsive Design. It is crucial today that your website is designed with a responsive layout that will show your content well across multiple devices and screen sizes. Your pages should be coded well so there is not too much code bloat that can slow down the page load speed and make it harder for the search engines to index your content.
Your website design should also contain content headings and subheading that layout nice and clean on the page, making it easy for the user to take in the content.
Make sure that the fonts and font sizes display the text in a clear way for the user to quickly take in.
Content. Create compelling and engaging content that is easy to read. Place quality images in your text to help the user understand what you are writing about. Make sure your images are compressed so they load quickly and also that they are descriptive of the content that surrounds them.
You can space out your text into small paragraphs with subheadings, so the user can scan your page and quickly choose the part they are interested in if they do not have the time to read it all. Bullet points are also a good way help the user read your content more easily.
The main title of your article is better written in a way that grabs the users attention. Remember this is going to be very similar to your page Title, that in turn is shown in the search engine results page.
Page load speed. People do not want to wait to get the information that they are looking for. Having your page load quickly is one of the biggest ways to reduce your overall bounce rate. There are a number of ways to do this.
Ensure you are caching all files and images. Again WordPress has plugins for this, but if you have a custom made site, it is really simple to add this behaviour to the .htaccess file.
Once you are ready to go live, then test your sites load speed with Google’s PageSpeed tool.
Advertising. Avoid Pop-ups and intrusive advertising, as they can make a user hit the back button straight away. In fact, lately Google have been issuing warning to users that have interstitial ads that interfere with the overall user experience. So unless you want your ranking to drop, then think about your users when you are placing ads, and let them have time to read at least a portion of your article before any adverts get in the way.
Title & Meta Description. Make sure they are a good indicator of what the content of the page is. It is no good enticing a user to one of your pages, if the content is not what they are looking for. After clicking through from your search result listing, the user is going to expect to see immediately that they have the correct information they are looking for. So try to keep your main heading for the page as close as possible to the title tag for the page.
As you can see, both click through rate and bounce rate can affect your search engine rankings. The advice above is all good practice that can help you improve CTR and reduce bounces, and will also make your website more interesting to the users, who will come back again each time you publish content. They are also more likely to buy from you, if your website has provided them with the right info in the right way.