What is Bounce Rate?

A ‘bounce’ is the name Google Analytics has given to the situation where a visitor arrives on a page and doesn’t do anything further in the site, and ends up leaving the site after only visiting that one page.   Since some portion of visitors can always be expected to do this regardless of how great your website is, the concept of bounce rate is used to indicate the percentage of visitors who don’t do anything else in your site after seeing just the one page they landed on.

What are Normal Values for Bounce Rate?

Bounce rate numbers can vary widely, and can even be affected by how you have Google Analytics code configured within your site.

Any bounce rate below 50 percent can be considered good, and if you have a bounce rate under 10 percent, you may want to check if your analytics are properly functioning since this is a rare (but excellent) value. Bounce rates above 50 percent may be good as well, depending on factors like who your audience is and what you are asking them to do on your site. If your bounce rate is close to or at 100 percent, this would only be good if you have a one page website such as a site that only consists of a flyer for an event.

Bounce rate can be a big concern when paid advertising such as Google Adwords or other PPC (pay per click) ads are running. If you are paying typical values of $2 to $5 or more per click, and your bounce rate is 50 percent, then every other paid visit to your site can be considered as a waste of $2 to $5. Optimizing bounce rate in this case means saving real dollars in advertising costs.

How is Bounce Rate Improved?

The first step in improving any aspect of a website is to make sure you have measurements in place to track it, and then to take a baseline measurement that you can refer to when making changes to the site.

Google Analytics, when properly configured, will automatically report bounce rate for the site and for individual subpages as well. The bounce rate on subpages is important when those pages are ones that visitors land on directly – such as via a particular subpage showing up for certain search terms instead of the homepage of your site, which is a typical goal of search engine optimization efforts. Equally important is the bounce rate for ‘landing pages’, which are subpages typically created for paid ad campaigns where a customized page is needed to properly match the content of a pay per click ad.

As with any measurement based on the behavior of website visitors, it is crucial to get a sufficient sample size – in other words, it might require a month of visits before you can get a trustworthy bounce rate indication for your site or for a particular page in your site. If your website (or a particular page you are focusing on) has only a few hundred visits per month, it will be important to use at a minimum one month of data in your analytics in order to get a bounce rate you can consider as a good average value. If you have higher numbers of visits per month, such as 500 to 1000 or more, consider 2 to 3 weeks of data, and for websites with 2000 visits and above per month you may be able to get a trustworthy bounce rate value after a week.

In some cases, bounce rate may be incorrectly measured. This can easily happen when your goal is to get visitors to take some action within the first page they visit, such as watching a video or downloading a document or clicking an email list signup button. Adding analytics event tracking to the elements in your site that visitors can interact with, and ensuring that the proper event tracking configuration is present to count events toward reducing bounce rate, is the solution.

Once a good baseline measurement has been determined, you can decide whether to make changes to your site and see if your bounce rate improves. The decision about whether to make changes is one that should be based on whether your bounce rate is very high (above 70 percent, for example), whether you are paying for traffic (with Adwords PPC advertisements for example), and what you are expecting from your website visitors.

Bounce Rate Reduction Requires Strategy and Time

Strategic changes are used to improve visitor actions within your site, such as by modifying the enticements a visitor sees within the first 7 seconds of arriving on your site. It’s the first 7 seconds that are crucial because if a visitor can’t find anything to do in that time, statistics show that some portion of users will abandon the site in favor of clicking on some other search result that might take them more quickly to whatever information or resource they set out to find. This abandonment – a bounce – is normally improved by making adjustments to the site, then measuring the bounce rate again after enough visits have come in, and evaluating the results against the baseline measurements to see if the changes were helpful or not.

A faster way to make improvements in the site is by doing A/B testing, where a portion of the website visitors are sent to the normal page and a different portion of visitors are sent to a modified page. By using A/B testing, you can directly compare bounce rates over the same time period – something that can be very important when comparing bounce rates across different months where more visitor actions are expected, such as back to school or holiday periods.

An even faster way to get feedback, and which can be especially useful when your site has only a few hundred visitors per month or less, is to use the tests at http://ismywebsitegood.com . Using the tests at this site, all of which measure real user reactions to key factors that determine how well a site will keep a visitor engaged, allows measurements to be taken in minutes, and makes it possible to make changes and test again immediately instead of waiting weeks or months for sufficient visitor traffic to accumulate on your site.

If your site has a bounce rate that you feel is too high, or if you would like help setting up and evaluating bounce rate measurements, contact us today to learn more about our offerings.