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Google Analytics: Bounce Rates explained

Aug 29th 2012

Bounce Rate is a term that you may have seen on your website's Google Analytics report, or heard about from your web designer when talking about search engine optimization, but what actually is it and should you really care?

Bounce Rate is a term that you may have seen on your website’s Google Analytics report, or heard about from your web designer when talking about search engine optimization. The importance of bounce rate as a measurement of how effective your website and marketing materials are cannot be understated. It’s important enough that we will review what bounce rate is and what you can do to improve your site’s “stickiness” for better SEO and more traffic conversion.

According to Google Analytics, Bounce Rate is the percentage of bounced visits (i.e. visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page). Bounce Rate is a measure of visit quality and a high Bounce Rate generally indicates that site entrance (landing) pages aren’t relevant to your visitors. Bounce Rate is different from Exit Rate, which refers to visitors who leave your site from a particular page when coming to that page from somewhere else within our site.

So, an example would be a visitor to your home page who clicks the Back button and leaves your site immediately. That visit counts against your Bounce Rate. If the same visitor decided to click on your Services page and THEN leaves your site, that counts against your Exit Rate.

It should be noted that both Bounce Rate and Exit Rate are key indicators for Google when determining a site’s overall ranking.

The Bounce Rate equation is fairly predictable. The total number of visits viewing one page only is divided by the total number of entries to that page.

In addition to clicking the Back button, there are a number of actions that a visitor can take which will count against your Bounce Rate. If they click on a link to another website, that will count. If the visitor closes the window or the tab, that counts too. Typing in a new URL will count, as well as if the session times out. One action that may surprise you is if the visitor goes to a sub domain, that will count as a Bounce as well.

What is a good Bounce Rate?

Every website and industry is different, so there is not one single rate or metric to look at. Instead, businesses should compare their sites with other similar sites and industries.

  • Retail Sites – 20-40% Bounce Rate
  • Simple Landing Pages – 70-90% Bounce Rate
  • Portals – 10-30% Bounce Rate
  • Service Sites – 10-30% Bounce Rate
  • Content Sites – 40-60% Bounce Rate
  • Lead Generation – 30-50% Bounce Rate

So, depending on where your kind of website falls within that spectrum, you should target that range of Bounce Rate (or better).

How do we improve our Bounce Rate?

There are a lot of things you can do to try to improve your Bounce Rate, but let’s first focus on some things that you should NOT do which may be hurting your Bounce Rate.

Negative Factors

1. Pop-up ads, surveys, music, or streaming video
2. Landing page design
3. Ad and landing page messages
4. Load time of pages
5. Links to external sites
6. Purpose of the page

Improvement Techniques

1. Provide relevant content
2. Build a clear navigation path / menu
3. Link to a glossary page that defines industry terms
4. Speed up page load
5. Get rid of pop-up ads
6. Reduce external links or have them open in a new window

The bottom line is that you will be best served by targeting keywords for which you are able to provide quality, relevant content. Search engines will deliver the traffic and the better your content is, the more likely the visitors will be to spend more time on your site. This will result in an increased number of sales and conversions.