What Is Bounce Rate?
It may be obvious to some but Bounce Rate is often poorly understood or ignored by many. Bounce Rate is a key statistical measure provided by most website analytics packages such as Google Universal Analytics. Put simply, it represents the percentage of people who arrive on your website and leave without visiting a second page. This measure can tell you how many people found and landed on your pages (good), but failed to engage with your site in any way (probably bad).
A high Bounce Rate will show up in your website analytics when you are doing a good job of attracting people to your pages, possible using paid advertising, good organic ranking or others, but you have not given enough thought to the experience of visitors upon landing. In other words, visitors seem to lose interest in your website after viewing your landing page.
The Back Button
Probably the most common form of Bounce is due to the visitor pressing the back button to return to the previous page. Coming from a search engine or other website, the visitor would have followed a link to your landing page and then quickly reversed to the previous page.
Of course, a user can also choose the close the browser window after viewing your first page. This often occurs if your website is viewed within a separate tab or pop up window.
A reasonably common cause for high bounce rates are external links. These are links present on a landing page that point directly to other sites. Therefore, visitors arriving on your site (say through paid adverts on Google) are quickly funneled away to other sites. External links may be related sites or partner pages, however these contribute to increasing your Bounce Rate and reduce your opportunity for engagement.
Poor Content / Navigation
Landing pages on your website may be poorly designed to encourage visitors to explore and interact with more of your pages. Whilst many sites are planned with the home page as their primary entry point, you must not forget that most traffic will bypass this to land directly on an internal (landing) page.
Lastly, another common cause for high bounce rate is Page Speed. This is the time it takes for a user to fully load your page. Visitors will often abandon your website if pages take too long to show up. We are typically talking of very few seconds, especially when it comes to landing pages. Take care to optimize such pages (and its media) to ensure quick response time in the region of 1 to 2 seconds.
What Is A Typical Bounce Rate?
A good starting point to assessing your website bounce rate is to look at the average for other sites on the net. According to Google, the average bounce rate is 40% across sites on the Internet. Unfortunately this is not too useful since it varies depending on the type of site (such as content or ecommerce), by industry and even by target age group. However it’s a good benchmark to start from.
From our experience of business sites in general, Bounce Rates tend to be higher (40-60%) on content sites and blogs whilst it tends to be lower (20-40%) on retail and digital service portals. This of course makes perfect sense since visitors that land on your site to read content can be less motivated to explore further than customers who land to make a purchase or get a service online.
Breaking It Down
Whilst the global Bounce Rate figure is a good indication of the overall health of your website, the secret to understanding the behaviour of your visitors lies in breaking down the stats.
Bounce rates vary greatly between pages on your site. This needs to understood in the context of the difference between visitors that land on specific pages such as your cover page, or a deep internal one, such as an enquiry form. Visitors are more likely to explore multiple pages if presented with landing pages that are designed to capture their attention and then encourage them to interact.
For example, a blog post that is the target of a Google PPC campaign or on social media may experience very high traffic and very high bounce rates at the same time.
Bounce rates as well as other key analytics can be easily segmented such as by their source, location and device. What looks like a high bounce rate globally may quickly be traced down to specific types of traffic such as mobile traffic. This helps you isolate and eventually fix the source problem.
For example, a concerning 75% bounce rate on your blog may be due to a lack of support for mobile devices. Traffic from mobile devices could be responsible for most of the bounces and providing a mobile responsive layout may drastically improve your stats simply because mobile users can actually get to see your pages.
Tip: Google Analytics users can use the Intelligence Events report to obtain a quick summary of major changes within their stats to spot positive or negative shifts. Bounce Rate is just one of the metrics that can be monitored through this handy report.
Like most analytic metrics, Bounce Rates are not to be viewed in isolation but as part of a collection of key metrics that together provide a real picture. Here are some other metrics that can help you understand and put Bounce Rate into perspective in an effort to understand the behaviour of your customers:
New vs Returning Visitors
This metric will show you how many of your visitors have landed on your website for the first time, against returning visitors. This metric can support or aid your understanding of both low and high bounce rates on your pages.
Whilst Bounce Rate will tell you how many people left your website after viewing just one page, Visit Duration will tell you how long visitors spend reading your pages.
Bounce Rates will be very different for each of your main sources of traffic. Typically paid adverts will create high traffic with even higher bounce rates. On the other hand, organic searches tend to have low bounce rates as visitors are motivated and relevant (assuming your keywords are working as they should).
Webcraft develops business websites for clients of all sizes. We can help your organisating to start using the Internet or to improve your existing digital business.