What You Need to Know About Bounce Rates

What Is Bounce Rate?

A Breakdown of Bounce Rates and How to Utilize This Data for Your Marketing Efforts

Google Analytics can give you a ton of useful metrics about your site’s performance and how users are interacting with your site. With so many numbers and percentages, it can be difficult to figure out which stats are worth focusing on. One stat that is highly talked about among digital marketing experts is bounce rate. But what is it? How important is it? And what is a good bounce rate?

In this article, we will discuss how to calculate bounce rate, what rate you should aim for, and what you can do to achieve the ideal rate.

What Is Bounce Rate?

First off, it is important to understand what a bounce is.

Let us say someone lands on your home page. If they click onto another page on your site, that is an interaction. However, if they leave your site without interacting with any other pages, that is a bounce.

Some actions that can result in a bounce include:

  • Closing the tab/window
  • Clicking on a link to a different site on the page
  • Clicking the back button
  • Typing in a new URL
  • Staying on the page but keeping the browser idle for an extended period

How Is the Percentage Calculated?

This metric is calculated by how many sessions on your site end in a bounce. For example, if you have had ten sessions on your site this month and four sessions ended in a bounce, you have a 40 percent bounce rate.

Where to Find Bounce Rate?

You can find your site’s bounce rate by logging into Analytics and clicking on Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels (this will make it easier to focus on bounce rates based on traffic source). You can also find this metric by clicking on Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages (this will give you an overall look at your bounce rate by page).

Analytics will display an overall bounce rate and bounce rate by page. Your overall bounce rate is the overall number of bounces divided by the overall number of visits across all your site pages. The bounce rate per page is determined by how many sessions that started on that page ended in a bounce. If you are auditing your site’s performance, it is best to focus on bounce rate on a page-by-page basis.

How Important Is Bounce Rate?

According to SEMrush, bounce rate is the fourth most important ranking factor on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). But why? After all, Google has officially said that it does not directly factor into rankings. However, the actual answer may be a bit more complicated.

First of all, bounce rate can signal how users are engaging with your site. A low percentage means that users who land on your site are exploring different pages and reading the content you have posted (and possibly resulting in conversions). On the other hand, a high percentage may mean that users do not find the content on your site relevant or interesting enough to continue browsing other pages on your site.

If engaging with your site’s content is a metric you use to determine success, a high percentage can be problematic. For example, if you run an ecommerce site, bounces could indicate the number of users who visit your site without making a purchase, so a high bounce rate would be worth looking into. However, if you publish a lot of blogs or resources where users can get the information they need from visiting a single page on your site, a high bounce rate may not indicate an issue with your site.

Does Bounce Rate Affect Organic Rankings?

An industry study found a strong relationship between time on site and rankings; namely, sites where users spent more time on the page than average tended to rank higher on the SERPs. It is possible that Google’s algorithm assumes that spending more time on a page means the page is more relevant, and since Analytics automatically assumes that a session that ends in a bounce means the session lasted zero seconds, a page with a high bounce rate is less relevant. However, Google has not officially confirmed this, so the great debate on whether bounce rate is ever used as a ranking factor continues.

Yet, it is still important to consider this metric as an indicator of how users are engaging with your site and whether they are converting.

What Percentage Should I Aim For?

While one study found that the ideal bounce rate is between 41 and 51 percent, the real answer is not so cut and dry.

A “good” and “bad” bounce rate will depend on a variety of factors, including what type of content your site has, your industry, traffic source, and many more.

Here are some examples of how ideal bounce rates can vary:

  • According to Custom Media Labs, ecommerce (20-45 percent) and B2B sites (25-55 percent) have lower average bounce rates (because the goal is to have users navigate the sites to look at products/services or do research on what the business offers), while landing pages (60-90 percent) and blogs/news sites (65-90 percent) have higher percentages (because the goal is to have users call/fill out a contact form or get the answers they need from a single piece of content).
  • According to ConversionXL, email (35.20 percent) and referral (37.50 percent) traffic have lower average bounce rates than display (56.50 percent) and social media (54 percent) traffic.
  • Your industry can also play a huge factor in your average bounce rate. For example, those who run news websites should expect to see a higher bounce rate than those who run automotive websites.
  • Different kinds of pages can also have higher than average rates. For example, you should expect “contact us” and form submission pages to have a higher than normal bounce rate since the primary focus is to submit information and leave the site. On the other hand, your Home page should be within your industry’s average since it is the gateway to the rest of your site.

When auditing your site for bounce rate, it is important to keep these factors in mind.

How Can I Lower My Bounce Rate?

Once you have started auditing the bounce rate across your site, you need to figure out how to fix pages that have a high percentage. Although you will not always have an exact reason why someone chose to leave your site without interacting with any other content, following these suggestions should hopefully create a better user experience.

Improve Meta Data

Users will most likely use your title tag and meta description to determine whether your site is relevant to their interests. However, if the content on the page does not match the meta data, the session will most likely end in a bounce. Make sure that your title tag and meta description accurately describe the page’s subject and do not resort to keyword stuffing.

Improve Site Speed  

Users who must wait a long time for the page to load will most likely just leave without further interacting with your site. Do a site speed audit using PageSpeed Insights or GTMetrix and follow the recommendations. This should lower the time spent loading the site and create a positive user experience (and encourage users to explore the other pages of your site).

Improve Your Content  

If a few pages have a disproportionately high bounce rate, look at the content. Is it easy to read? Does it use simple language? Is it written for a human and not stuffed with keywords? If not, rewrite or restructure the offending pages so that they are more appealing to human readers. It may also be worth it to brush up on your copywriting skills to improve the quality of your content.

Make the Page More User-Friendly

In addition to improving your content, you should also consider how easy it is for users to navigate your site. If you have long-form content, consider including a table of contents with anchor links so users can easily navigate to a specific section. If you have a lot of visual elements like pop-ups, ads and in-line promotions, consider removing these or putting them in a less intrusive part of the page so it is not too overwhelming. Consider whether your site benefits more from a simple or complex drop-down menu. Make your site mobile-friendly if it is not already for users who are using a smartphone or tablet to access your site. Making it easier for users to get to the content they need will encourage them to navigate your site more.

If these suggestions do not work, consider some outliers that could be impacting your bounce rate. For example, users may be in an early part of the sales funnel and just researching. They may have bounced today, but they could come back (and turn into a conversion) once they have explored their options. Or your site may be appearing in SERPs for queries that are not exactly relevant. Pobody’s nerfect (including algorithms), so you may need to give the algorithm time to realize your site may be more relevant to other queries so you can attract users who are interested in your site’s content.

Conclusion

Bounce rate is a very important metric when measuring site performance, but it can be hard to nail down what your ideal rate is or why users might be bouncing from your site. Overall, creating a positive, easy-to-navigate experience will keep your users’ interest high and your bounce rate low.

About the Author

Victoria Lind is a Digital Marketing Strategist at ChoiceLocal. Outside of the office, she enjoys playing with her cats, watching TV, and playing video games.