Let’s talk about a key metric in Google Analytics: the bounce rate. Most people understand what it is, but even so, they may not be able to interpret what it means, and what it says about a web page or the marketing campaign.
If you need to get a better understanding of this metric and maybe even learn how to reduce bounce rates for your website, then this is the guide for you.
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Bounce Rate Explained
The bounce rate is the percentage of people who visit your website and then don’t do much else. So they perhaps click on an ad, social media link, backlink, or any other pathway to your website, but once they get there they take no other possible action, such as:
Clicking on another page to find more
Playing the video
Signing up for the newsletter
When the user doesn’t go anything on a page, it means that Google Analytics won’t register an action from them, based on the metrics you want to track, such as traffic, purchases, or others. But technically these users did still end up on the website, so it makes sense to count them in some way, doesn’t it? Well, that’s where the bounce rate in Google Analytics comes in.
How Does Google Calculate Bounce Rate?
Google estimates your bounce rate by taking single-page sessions and dividing them by all sessions or the percentage of all sessions on your site where users only viewed one page and triggered only one request to the Analytics server.
Let’s put that into perspective. Say you have a new blog post you are promoting. To calculate your bounce rate, Google will take the total number of people who’ve accessed the blog post and divide it by all sessions. That goes into the bounce rate for your website, which you can see in your Analytics account.
But the page itself may have its own bounce rate, especially if you’re tracking something other than website visits. For instance, you could have a call to action at the bottom telling people to sign up for something. Then, the bounce rate is the total number of people that did not perform your desired action, divided by the number of total sessions on that page.
Is a High Bounce Rate Bad?
Most would believe that a high bounce rate equals bad news for business, but that’s not necessarily the case. It depends on how you look at it.
For example, if you are experiencing a high bounce rate on a particular page, but the rest of the website seems fine, then you need to look at the purpose of the page itself.
Let’s go back to the blog post. People access it, read it, and leave. Sure, they don’t sign up for that seminar or free PDF like you wanted them to, but it doesn’t mean it was all for nothing. They still took the time to take in your content, and you could very well retarget them later with another post, and get them to sign up this way.
So it’s really important to put the bounce rate into context before you panic that people are leaving your site too quickly.
On the other hand, high bounce rates for the overall website may be an indication for:
Low page quality
Bad user experience
Wrong audience (meaning it’s a targeting issue)
Wrong set up – you bring the user promising something, they receive it, but then they have no other incentive to keep looking.
How Should You Interpret Bounce Rates?
Bounce rate is a telling metric, but it’s most telling when you use it in connection with another piece of information about your website. On its own, the bounce rate may not give you a complete understanding of your site or web page performance.
There are two good metrics that bounce rate can help you understand: traffic and conversions.
Website traffic is the total number of people that visit your website. In this context, you can get a better understanding of your website performance if you look at your bounce rate from a traffic source perspective.
Your website has multiple traffic source, some of which you may also be feeding with some money in order to get more people on your site:
Social media post
Social media ads
For instance, if you want to see which traffic sources are getting you the most traffic, check the bounce rates. Is the bounce rate for Google Ads landing pages too high? Then you may need to tweak the ad to get better results.
Is a backlink generating great traffic with a low bounce rate? Then that’s a valuable link you can leverage more.
From a conversions perspective, the bounce rate is like a metric to measure your success. If you have two different product pages that have very different conversion rates, you could compare each of their bounce rates.
If the page that converts more has a lower bounce rate, something is going great on that page that gets people to buy. What’s missing from the other product page? Perhaps it’s an issue with the copy or user experience that’s making people leave the site once they see that page.
How Do You Improve Bounce Rates?
If bounce rates are your issue, and it’s not necessarily a matter of using it to contextualize some other metric, then the key way to improve it is to amp up the engagement.
It’s essentially the biggest reason why you have a high bounce rate in the first place. People get on your site, and even if they do spend some amount of time on a page, they leave without doing something else. This tells you that this user was likely not engaged, and they saw no reason to look around your website for more information. The problem is, there could be a lot of different reasons why the user wasn’t engaged, and figuring this out may take some time.
Here are some general ways to boost engagement and potentially lower your average bounce rates:
1. Improve User Experience
A poorly designed website, both from a visual and usability standpoint is a recipe to ensure people quit a session fast. Users expect a website to have certain elements, such as:
A pleasant design
Fast-loading pages, etc.
If your website doesn’t meet their standards, they will leave, and you probably won’t be able to count on them becoming returning visitors unless you make some changes.
2. The Page Is Boring
Simply put, your web page may not be catching their attention. A page with just a blog post still needs to have certain key elements that keep the user focused, and sparks their interest to find out more.
This can be a problem with the content – users may not think you have much to offer besides the blog post in front of them. But, if your post comes with original infographics, videos, and other elements, they may be more included to read some other posts as well.
Or, it may be an issue with the call to action, either it’s not visible enough for them to spot it, or it’s not compelling.
3. The Audience Is Not Yours
If you want to sell cat toys, you’re not going to target dog lovers, are you? High bounce rates can sometimes be explained by something as simple as targeting the wrong audience with your content.
When you don’t go to the people most likely to perform the action you want, of course, they will leave the page the second they understand what the site is about. They don’t need to visit additional web pages to understand that what you’re offering is not for them.
4. You’re Not Targeting the People Who’ve Bounced
Creating an audience full of returning users is difficult, but there are ways to get the people who’ve bounced back on the site. It’s a marketing strategy called remarketing where you go back to those people who did not perform the action you wanted on the first run.
Some people take a while to decide if they should stick around on a website, and it may not necessarily be because your page is bad, or they aren’t part of your target. To know for sure, however, you should go back to them for another try.
Over to You
A website’s bounce rate can mean a lot of different things, but if you want to make sense of yours and use it to improve website performance, we can help!
We are a trusted Google Ads Agency with strategies that generate amazing results! Contact Australian Internet Advertising Today and let’s see how we can help your website.