Readin' & Writin'

No arithmetic, though.

Bounce Rates

By | October 13, 2015

Bounce rate is yet another one of those mysterious Google Analytics terms that doesn’t have to be so confusing. You got this: bounce rate is the percentage of your website’s visitors who view just a single page before navigating away. Now you may be one of the few out there for whom this number isn’t a big deal. If your website is only one page or if your site’s purpose is to serve up specific one-page bites of information (such as recipes or encyclopedia entries), bounce rate doesn’t really mean much for you.

But for the rest of you–particularly those of you running eCommerce and other business sites–bounce rate is a VERY big deal, and the bulk of this blog post is for you. Like golf, bounce rate is a number you want to see low, but your goal bounce rate should be a realistic number based upon what your site is all about.

Typical bounce rates vary greatly, but here are some

benchmark averages reported by Google Analytics:

– Blogs: 70-98%

– Landing Pages: 70-90%

– Lead Generation: 30-50%

– Content Websites: 40-60%

– Retail Sites: 20-40%

– Service Sites: 10-30%

Once you have an idea of expected bounce rates for your type of website, you can set about interpreting your numbers. Your bounce rate is a tool to help you determine how effective your entry page is at engaging your visitors and enticing them to stick around for a while. A page receiving a low bounce rate is clearly excelling a capturing your audience’s attention, while a high bounce rate usually means the page isn’t doing so hot.

And remember, your bounce rate number doesn’t stand alone. Google Analytics provides you with several other numbers to take into consideration to better interpret your bounce rate. For instance, a high click through rate on an ad combined with a high bounce rate may indicate that the page linked to via your ad is not delivering on your visitors’ expectations. You may need to pick different keywords in order to appeal to the correct visitor, rework the entry page so that it is more enticing, or select a more appropriate entry page for that particular ad.

However you look at it, a page with a high bounce rate is either not delivering on visitors’ expectations or your visitors are consistently finding your site difficult to navigate and therefore not worth the trouble. The latter is frequently the case in these days of Mobilegeddon when the site is not responsive and therefore next to impossible for mobile users to use.

There’s more than one way to bounce.

The way people tend to leave your website may indicate something about action you need to take to fight it.

Your visitors exit portals may include:

1. Clicking on an external link.

One of the easiest issues to fix! Just make sure your external links are opening in a new window, and you’ve increased the chances your visitors will come back to you after visiting the valuable link you so graciously provided them. 

2. Clicking on the “back” button.

A strong indication that your site is not delivering on the promise your visitors are seeing in ads or in your search engine results, and they intend to look at your competitor’s site next. The problem may be anything from content to load time to difficulty of navigation.

3. Closing an open window or tab or typing in a new URL.

There is no guarantee your visitor would be going to check out your competitor’s site, but one thing is clear: that particular landing page did not entice your visitor to stick around.

4. Session timeout.

A much more complicated and possibly misleading factor in calculating bounce rate. When a visitor is inactive for a certain amount of time (typically 30 minutes) without actually leaving your page, they are considered a bounce. If they come back, they are considered a whole new session, potentially to bounce again… and again…. If your intended audience tends to be the busy multitasker type, these sadly may be unavoidable.

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Let’s get those numbers down.

Now you know all the many ways people may be leaving your site, let’s talk about how to get them to stay!

1. Get the right visitors from the get-go.

It can be tempting to create ads, keywords, and meta descriptions that will attract the most people.

Unfortunately that strategy doesn’t work so well when you’ve got 3,000 visitors who came to see the cat videos you promised but you’re actually trying to sell fishing bait. Use those valuable meta descriptions and keywords to entice fishermen in need of bait and with money to spend, and your bounce rate will take care of itself. That is, so long as you…

2. Get that page loaded stat.

Optimize your page’s load time, no matter what it takes. Use minimal self-loading multimedia content (HTML5 video is quickly becoming a fun option if you absolutely must have some immediate movement on screen), and for the love of all that is holy, no self-loading multimedia ads or pop-ups!

Respect your visitors’ time, and they’ll give you more!

3. Get your site’s usability up to snuff.

Is your site easy to use? Here’s a few questions to ask yourself right now: Is it responsive, allowing viewers to easily navigate it no matter what browser or platform they are on? Is your text legible (consider color contrast, size of font, and whether your text is broken up with plenty of headlines, bullet points, and whitespace)? Does your site have an easy-to-find search bar? Are calls to action clear and appropriate?

4. Get your content quality up to user needs and expectations.

You may be able to get your visitors to stick around a bit longer by taking care of all three previous issues, but if your content quality isn’t high or if its presentation is poor, it’s all for naught. Ensure that your message/s are clearly stated, proofread your text and then proofread it again, and make sure your site looks like it was built this year and not in 2011 (even if it was). And finally, once you’ve convinced your visitors to stay, be certain they know where to go next with clear calls-to-action and links to the other pages of your site.

As I said at the beginning, you’ve got this! And what you don’t got, we’ve got here at S2N Design. If you find you need some help getting your bounce rate numbers under control, you can always give us a shout simply by clicking here. And we invite you to help us keep our own bounce rate down by checking out all the other fun services we offer, including logo design, branding, and of course, web design!