Bounce rate is a term used for website traffic analysis – it tells us what percentage of people who visited a webpage then left the site rather than remaining within the site visiting other pages. In most cases, webmasters try to keep bounce rates down to a minimum.
This marketing term is a measure of the effectiveness of a site in encouraging visitors to extend their visit. The bounce rate tells us what percentage of visits end on the first page of the website that the visitor sees.
Many people think that ‘exit rate’ has the same meaning, but it is slightly different. Bounce rates apply to visits to entry/landing pages – the first page an individual visits – while exit rates apply to the pages visitors leave/exit on. Think of exit rate as a way to identify where visitors are exiting mid-stream from a conversion funnel.
A website’s bounce rate is a measure of the percentage of visitors who leave the site instead of moving onto another page in the same site.
“Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page sessions, i.e. sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page.”
Purpose of the bounce rate
The bounce rate is used to help determine how effective an entry page is at generating visitor interest. Entry pages with low bounce rates are effectively making visitors view further pages and continue deeper into the website.
High bounce rates usually suggest that the website is not good at maintaining the interest of the visitor – but not always.
You customer support, checkout and contact web pages will always have relatively high bounce rates. This is normal.
Obviously, if a web page has everything the visitor was looking for, the bounce rate matters less than for an e-commerce site, where people who visit should ideally start shopping for articles which are found on other pages.
Causes of a high bounce rate
There are many reasons why some pages have high bounce rates while others have lower rates.
A web page with design or usability problems is less likely to have visitors either staying very long or keen to look further. Others may decide to move onto other sites if what they were seeking was not found in the entry page.
If you are looking for the definition of a word and the web page provides everything you sought, you are satisfied and move on.
High bounce rates could also be the result of failing to add the tracking code to all pages. If you have not added the code, Google Analytics and other tracking services will not register multiple visits properly.
Google Analytics specialist Avinash Kaushik once said: ‘My own personal observation is that it is really hard to get a bounce rate under 20%, anything over 35% is cause for concern, 50% (above) is worrying. I stress that this is my personal analysis.” (Image: twitter.com/avinash)
Bounce rate scenarios
The four visitor actions listed below will be registered as a bounce from a website and typically signal that the individual’s expectations were not met:
– the session timed out after 30 minutes, i.e. the visitor did nothing
– the visitor closed the browser (window/tab)
– he or she clicked the back button – this is the most common reason
– a new URL is typed
However, not all bounces are negative. If the visitor clicks on an external link – which is not necessarily a bad thing – it will be registered as a bounce.
An account login that requires secure authentication that is on a separate domain will register as a bounce even though it shouldn’t.
Webmasters should track outbound links and ensure that they are properly tracking traffic across various domains. In Google Analytics, we can choose to have an outbound link tracked as event to be an interaction or non-interaction event. The choice you make determines whether a link affects bounce rate.
When is a high bounce rate acceptable?
There are many types of pages where high bounce rates are expected and resources should not be spent trying to reduce them. Below are some examples:
– Checkout Page: these are found in e-commerce or shopping websites. At this page, the visitor completes his or her purchase and will probably move on. A high bounce rate here is of no concern.
– Contact Us Page: most people will move out of the website after visiting this page. It usually has everything they are looking for, such as an address, email and telephone number.
– Bookmark: if a visitor bookmarks a page on a site, goes to it and leaves, then that is considered a good bounce.
– Customer Support/Inquiries Page: most websites have high bounce rates on this page, even quality support sites. If the visitor is satisfied with the service on that page, he or she is likely to leave the site afterwards.
– Blog Articles: newspaper articles and other blog texts with a high returning visitor rate that use CPM Ad Monetization to generate an income will have high bounce rates. In fact, a bounce rate of nearly 90% – or even higher – is acceptable and not unexpected. After reading an interesting article, visitors leave after getting value from that page.
Video – Bounce Rate
In this Google video, Avinash Kauship talks about bounce rates.