What the Heck is a Bounce Rate?
If you have Google Analytics installed, or even if you don’t, you might have heard people discussing the phrase “bounce rate” when talking about their website.
Bounce Rate? What the heck does that mean?
The official word from Google is:
Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page.
What does that mean?
It means a visitor bounces when they leave your site from the page they entered on (only visited one page of your site).
Either they got what they needed and left, or your site wasn’t exactly what they were looking for. Alternatively, if they left the tab or window open for more than 30 minutes, their Google Analytics session times out and Google counts that as a bounce.
For most sites, the intent is to have the visitor go to at least one more page (perhaps to read another blog post, sign up for your newsletter, or visit your contact/book me page) – which is why most site owners strive to lower their bounce rate, no matter what the number is.
So how do you find it?
Once logged in to Google Analytics, simply head over to Standard Reporting (orange menu at the top), head to the Audience menu on the left and click Overview. Bounce Rate will be one of your website stats defined on the right-hand side.
(You can also view bounce rate in most of the detailed reports like Traffic Sources as one of the columns of data in the rest of GA)
Okay, found it. How do I know if it’s a good bounce rate? What’s normal?
KISSmetrics says 40.5% across all websites. But that number doesn’t really help you – what’s a good bounce rate for YOUR kind of website? Check out the graphs below from KISSmetrics for a better idea.
(Note: the full infographic mistakenly identifies bounce rate as a factor Google uses to rank your site. Google has gone on the record stating they do not use analytics data to rank your site.)
Eegads! How do I improve my bounce rate?
Don’t fret if you’re a little outside of the averages in the graph – use them simply as a reference point.
However, almost all of us could stand to improve our bounce rates. Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to improve your bounce rate and overall create a better user experience for your visitor.
Here are just a few ideas:
- Improve Your Page Load Time. Does your site take more than a few seconds to load? This can increase your bounce rate unnecessarily. Things like reducing image sizes on your page can help improve your load time. DIYThemes gets into some of the more code-speak things you can do in this post but also includes a WordPress plugin recommendation for improving page load time.
- Write Better Headlines. It’s important to draw people into your site with an intriguing headline, but make sure it’s still relevant. Any sort of bait and switch headline writing will increase your bounce rate. Copyblogger has a lot of specific advice for writing better headlines which you can find here.
- Keep Landing Pages Relevant. Are you running any sort of marketing campaign that drives people to your website? Make sure the page you’re driving them to is relevant to the campaign (probably don’t want to send them just to your home page). The more the visitor has to click to get to what they were *really* looking for from your ad, the higher your bounce rate will be.
- Don’t Send Them Away. It is definitely a good thing to reference or share other people’s work on your website. However, if you post a link without making it open in a new tab, you are straight up inviting people to leave your site without looking back and recklessly increasing your bounce rate. What to do instead? Make sure the link opens in a new tab or window. You might be able to just check a box when you add the link in your website editor but otherwise, make sure the link code includes target=“_blank” and your links will be good to go.
- Make Sure Your Pages Are Ranking for the Right Terms. Check your Analytics for what keywords are landing search engine traffic on your site. Head to Standard Reporting – Traffic Sources – Sources – Search – Organic to see your keyword list. From that menu, add Landing Page from the Secondary Dimension drop down list and see if you have any keywords that don’t make sense for your pages. What to do? Review those pages that are associated with keywords that don’t make sense and see what you can do to optimize them better.
Is That It?
Bounce rate isn’t the end-all-be-all metric for your site, but it can be a good one to give you an indicator of how relevant your content is for your visitors and whether you could stand to improve your site’s design or navigation to help keep visitors longer.
How does your site’s bounce rate measure up? Have you ever tried to improve it? Did you find this article useful? Let me know in the comments!
Looking for more on Google Analytics? Check out 19 Things Google Analytics Can Teach You About Your Small Business or What is a Google Analytics Funnel? (And Why Should You Care).