What is bounce rate? And how to improve it

John Morton

  | Published on  

May 26, 2021

I came. I puked. I left.

That's how Avinash Kaushik described bounce rate back in 2007. In fact, he went so far to call it the sexiest metric ever (seriously, listen to the clip. We'll wait).

If you're spending hours upon hours creating quality content, the last thing you want is for people to land on your website and immediately leave. After all, you're spending a lot of time building out a website that is designed to rank, the least you can get in return is some engagement right?

As we all know, it's not so simple as creating content and leaving it at that. One of the most important challenges you will have to overcome is how to make sure prospective customers explore your website further.

What is bounce rate though? When does a visitor bounce? What is a good bounce rate, and how do you improve one that's not so good.

These questions and more will be answered in this post. Let's dive in!

What is bounce rate?

Beforegoing any further, it will be important to define bounce rate. There are manyways that content marketers define bounce rate so we will explore them in depthhere. First, bounce rate is often presented as a percentage. This percentageshows you the percentage of sessions where someone leaves right after hittingthe site.  

Yourbounce rate measures the percentage of those who “bounce” right after hittingyour site. The bounce rate is calculated by looking at the total number ofbounces divided by the total number of visits to the page.

Google Analytics can track the bounce rate across your whole website or even just a single page. Having defined bounce rate, let’s move on to see why this statistic should be a priority in your marketing goals.

How does Google Analytics calculate bounce rate?

Google defines bounce rate as such:

Bounce rate is single-page sessions divided by all sessions or the percentage of all sessions on your site in which users viewed only a single page and triggered only a single request to the Analytics server.

To translate: Google divides all the sessions by the number of sessions where the visitor only saw one page.

If 10 people visit your site and 6 of them leave after the first page, your bounce rate is 60%.

Simple, right?

Why Does Bounce Rate Matter?

Obviously keeping people on your website is important, but bounce rate matters for more reasons than just that.

For instance, websites with a higher average time on the site tend to rank higher than those that do not. This means that Google pays close attention to how long visitors spend on your website, and if people are bouncing off at a high rate it signals to Google that the content may not be high quality.

Is bounce rate a ranking factor?

No (ish). But it is a signal to how engaging your content is and how well you are retaining visitors.

If the bounce rate percentage on your website is high, it could mean your content is low quality, hard to navigate, or does not answer the searcher's question. These are all detrimental to your rankings.

A high bounce rate isn't always a terrible signal though. It could mean that the site visitor got their answer and needed nothing further. Websites like Wikipedia and Stack Overflow have notoriously high bounce rates for example.

What is a normal bounce rate

The average bounce rate for a website is somewhere between 40-50%. But it really depends on industry.

For example, check out these industry benchmarks by Custom Media Labs:

As you can see there is no 'normal' bounce rate, it all depends on the context and industry your website falls under.

How to interpret your bounce rate

As a rule of thumb, if you are not a news website and exclude your landing pages from the average, you're probably looking for a bounce rate somewhere between 40%-60%.

Averages don't tell us much though.

Actually, averages tell you very little.

Google Analytics allows you to drill deep into segments of your traffic. You can easily compare data between traffic from organic search and traffic from social media which can give you a clearer picture of your overall website.

What's more you can separate traffic by device type, or even by new vs returning visitor.

When examining a high average bounce rate, try digging a level deeper to see what is causing it. Which channel, which device, which type of visitor... you'll start to get a clearer picture and plan of attack on improving your bounce rate.

Speaking of which, let's talk about techniques to improve your bounce rate.

Tips on Lowering Your Bounce Rate

Low bounce rates, as opposed to higher-percentage bounce rates, indicate a website of good quality that keeps prospective visitors engaged in your products or services. After setting up benchmarking through Google Analytics, let’s say that you are now panicking over a high bounce rate on your website or specific pages as compared to others in your industry.

Whilea high-percentage bounce rate is alarming, there are certainly steps you cantake to remedy the situation.

Thesesteps will not be exhaustive but here are a few ideas of why your bounce ratemay be high.

Optimize your page’s load time

This tip may seem odd but, if your website loads its pages slowly, customers will often navigate back to Google to find a website that loads faster. This tip is especially important for customers using mobile phones. Making sure that your website loads pages quickly on a computer and a mobile phone is essential to retain your customer’s interest and lessen any frustration they may have at slow-loading pages.

Make your website easy-to-read

Rather than presenting your content without much variation and a heavy emphasis on text alone, think about using headers, images or bulleted lists to break up the flow of information. Presenting easily-digestible information at a visitor’s first engagement can allow you to become more technical as the relationship grows.

Think about where to place your call-to-action

If you would like users to subscribe to an email newsletter, make sure it gets their attention but is not too obtrusive that they will click away from your website. Providing a clear and honest call-to-action will enhance the user’s experience.

We've written a guide on creating quality CTAs for your content, from choosing the type of CTA and how to position it on your site we've got you covered.

Rely on videos and images

We have discussed these topics before but in this context, if you use videos and images to capture someone’s attention right away they will be more likely to click on other pages of your website. High-quality images and videos show dedication to creating a user-friendly website that anyone visiting the website can appreciate.

Make sure your website is easy-to-navigate

Having a search feature or easily-identifiable pages will lead to a solid user-friendly experience. With a clear sense of where users are supposed to click for more information, you can provide a seamless experience from moving from one part of your website to another. Remember to put yourself in the mind of a visitor to your website. Would you click away from your site if it was difficult to use or hard to find information? By putting yourself in the audience’s shoes, you can begin to tailor simplified content to provide as much information as possible to prospective customers.

Remember, it is all about the user experience. Using these tips can enhance your audience's trust in your business to help them solve their problems.

Are bounce rate and exit rate the same?

Bounce rate is commonly mistaken for exit rate and vice versa.

They are not the same metric, in fact they are quite different. While bounce rate is the percentage at which visitors leave your site on first page view, exit rate is the percentage where the session ends on that page.

Ok maybe an example is needed.

Suppose you hit our home page, then hop onto our blog, and check out a post, and then leave on that post. The bounce rate for your session is 0% and the exit rate for that post is 100%.

Someone else finds that post in a Google search, reads it and clicks through to the homepage and then leaves. The bounce rate for that session is 0% and now the exit rate for the homepage is 50% (because you entered via the homepage).

Now a third person finds that same post on Facebook, reads it, and leaves. The bounce rate for the post is now 33% (one bounce out of three sessions), and the exit rate is 66% (two of the sessions saw this as their last page).

Bounce rate is a useful metric in knowing if you are driving people to click through your website. Exit rate is a useful metric in knowing where people lose interest or decide to leave.

Going Forward

Hopefully, this article showed why bounce rate should be an integral consideration in your marketing strategy. If there are more tips on lowering your bounce rate that you have found successful, share them here and get started on lowering your bounce rate today!

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