With all due respect to Mr. Kaushik, we believe that this definition of a Bounce Rate is a bit too simple. ‘I came, I called, I left’ may be just as plausible. Or how about ‘I came, I read your blog and it properly answered my questions, I left satisfied’.
The point to be made is simple – a high bounce rate doesn’t necessarily mean your site is puke-worthy.
It’s important that we debunk the myth that a high bounce rate means a low quality site. Just because a bounce rate is ‘above average’ doesn’t mean your web page isn’t doing exactly what it’s intending to do. That being said, high bounce rates also can and often do mean that your website isn’t optimized, the content isn’t engaging, or there are crucial pieces missing.
So how do we know what our bounce rate really means for us?
First, let’s start with the basics.
What is a ‘Bounce Rate’
(Total visits viewing one page) / (Total entries to the same page)
In layman’s terms, that’s the percentage of visitors who view only the webpage they land on. Our visitor leaves before going to any other page on your website.
What most site’s bounce rates look like
In my experience, this again is far too simplified. I prefer to use as a benchmark a recent study by Go Rocket Fuel. Go Rocket Fuel found that most websites experience a bounce rate of anywhere between 26% and 70%. I do understand that that is a huge range, so let’s dive a little deeper.
- Overall average bounce rate : 49%
- Excellent bounce rate : 26% - 40%
- Average bounce rate : 41% - 55%
- Higher than average : 56% - 70% - It’s bounce rates like these when we should really dig into what’s causing the elevated rate. Is this a cause for concern, or is it normal for the webpage we’re analyzing?
Bounce rates vs Exit rates – What’s the difference?
A bounce rate is how many people visit one single page and leave.
An exit rate is how frequently that page is the last page someone visits. This can be after they visit one, ten, or fifty pages.
Can a High Bounce Rate Actually be a Good Thing?
Just because your bounce rate is above average doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a bad sign. Keep in mind, it doesn’t mean it’s a good sign either. We’re going to go over what a high bounce rate may mean, other numbers to keep in mind, and when it may actually be alright.
Average Page Visit Duration
A short duration on a page with a high bounce rate can be due to a number of factors. Poor load time, bad content, and annoying pop-ups are all reasons someone may be clicking away from your site quick.
A high duration, however, can mean that a page is doing exactly what it’s meant to do. If someone enters on a page, spends 5 minutes there, and leaves, it’s very possible they found exactly what they were looking for on your page and had no need to continue on.
Home pages with high bounce rates
Does your home page lead to another website? Maybe it transfers a customer to a Pinterest, Etsy, or Amazon page. It’s also possible that someone clicks on an advertisement that’s on your page that causes them to leave. This may end up being a conversion for you, but won’t help your analytic statistics unless you’re conversion tracking.
Is your phone number or e-mail address on the bottom of your home page? It’s possible that someone found the exact information they needed, called or e-mailed, and left. Again, this is when conversion tracking can come in extremely handy.
Finally, do you have a pop-up form asking for someone to join your newsletter? Maybe your customers end goal was to do just that – mission complete.
Blog pages, infographics & articles with a high bounce rate
The page itself is also very important to examine. Take, for example, a page listing Super Bowl winners. Someone comes, realizes the Packers won Super Bowl 47, and their question is answered. Answering a question quickly isn’t exactly a horrible thing to do – but you won’t be rewarded with a higher page visit duration OR a lower bounce rate.
There is a way to try and keep people on your website when this occurs – suggested reads (posts similar to the current) and e-mail sign up forms are both great ways to keep a visitor on your site.
Contact Us pages with a high bounce rate
An important take away from this section is that conversion tracking is a key metric to figuring out if your bounce rate is acceptable, or if something on your page needs to be tweaked.
Just because there are plenty of situations when a high bounce rate isn’t a bad thing, it’s important to remember that a high bounce rate isn’t necessarily good either.
When a High Bounce Rate may be a bad sign
- Slow Load Speed – If your site is taking forever to load, people are going to hit their back button and go to the next option. The best part about this is Google will test your site and tell you if it’s slow. They even give you recommendations to fix it as well!
- Poor Mobile Optimization – Your website may be beautiful on desktop, but if it’s not responsive on mobile, your visitors may be leaving due to a poor experience. Honestly though, this should be a priority to every website with the growing number of mobile searches. Not only does it make for a better customer experience, it’s a major SEO ranking factor.
- Bad Content – It’s always possible that what you wrote on your page is bad. Content that doesn’t answer questions quick enough, is out of date, or is hard to navigate are all problems that will force a customer to hit the back arrow.
- Pop Ups – Not only are they detrimental to SEO health, they’re annoying and can make a visitor leave before even looking at your page.
- Offsite Links – While others linking to your site is great – crucial even for SEO – if they’re linking you to the wrong content, people aren’t going to stay on your site long.
- Wrong Target – Similar to poor offsite links. If your posts are showing up but targeting the wrong audience, they won’t have any reason to click through your site.
- No Next Step – Even if your landing page is exactly what your ideal visitor is looking for, what happens when they get to the end of the page and there’s nothing compelling them to stay there? It’s not enough to land someone on your page anymore, now we have to keep them engaged.
Steps to take to fix your bounce rate
Depending on why people are leaving, there are a number of different ways to convince them to stay on your site. The first step is going to be determining where people are leaving from and understanding that this migration from your website is a problem. After that, it’s trial-and-error.
Here are a few ways to better engage people, and hopefully get them to stick around for more than just a single page.
Improve your Content!
Add Videos instead of Text
SEO Tip: Add a video transcript of sorts below the video. Google is smart, but it still seems that Google Bots need the text on the page.
Engaging Side Bar
It's not enough to just look at numbers. Just because numbers don’t lie doesn’t mean they don’t have a story – or novel in some cases – to tell. Google Analytics may provide us with the outline, but it’s our job to fill in the rest.