What Is Bounce Rate and Why It Matters

What Is Bounce Rate and Why It Matters

by Dean Hawker on July 13, 2018
Whether you are running analytics on your website or not, Bounce Rate is going to matter, because it's a visitor action that tells a lot about your website's content and the visitors it attracts.  If in fact, you are running analytics to track essential metrics about your site's traffic, then this single metric can tell you a story.  
In a world where bigger is better, that is not the case with Bounce Rates.  The lower you can go the more juice you are getting out of two avenues that affect your site.

What is it?

First, let's define Bounce Rate.  In its essence, Bounce Rate is the percentage of visitors that land on a page on your website and then leave your site from that same page.  
They don't explore any other parts of the website.  So, for example, if you have a landing page that has a 90% Bounce Rate, in essence, it is telling you that 90% of the visitors to that page engage only with that page and leave from the same page.  
Now we can address the two main avenues that single number is telling us.  First, it may indicate that you have the completely wrong audience visiting your site.  Maybe your website is about dog grooming for example and the users that are landing on your site are looking for ideas for wedding groom gifts!  That is a bad match and there is likely an identity issue with your site.

Secondarily, let's assume you have the right audience visiting the site.  Dog grooming customers and the bounce rate remains really high.  You may have a content, call to action or messaging problem.  Creating a message on your page that misses is much easier than creating one that hits!  

Short attention span theater is the rule and without a compelling message or information that resonates almost immediately, you could be missing out capturing that visit.  

There are exceptions to these two scenarios but they are two of the more common bits of feedback we can get from Bounce Rate data.  One exception is actually a spot on, targeted piece of information you are providing that solves a problem for a user that is maybe out of your market.  They are knowledge seekers and not buyers yet.  You just solved a problem via your awesome content and they thank you by raising your Bounce Rate!

Have you been spammed?

Often times, spam can easily be identified by a Bounce Rate that registers as 100% and typically coincides with zero time on site.  
It is not uncommon to find city data that contains these type of hits recorded in either the Referral, Direct or Organic channels.  
If they continue, you can filter them out of your data for future analysis as too much spam sitting in your data provides you with poor decisions making metrics.  

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

I have a scale I typically refer to for Bounce Rates.  It isn't as much scientific as it is experienced based.  Bounce Rates are a good indicator of traffic quality and engagement but they are even more powerful when used with other metrics like Time on Site and Pages per Visit.  All data that is typically included in a decent Analytics software such as Google Analytics. 

Here is the scale I typically will refer to clients during reviews with:

Bounce Rate:

80%-100%-Yikes, something is very much not right and you are likely getting spammed.
60%-80%-Content and Visitors quality is on the horizon but there is work to do
40%-60%-We are firing on some cylinders but not all
Below 40%-That's pretty good
Below 30%-That's really good
Below 20%-Visitor quality and content and working great together!

There are clients that hit that below 20% rate, it is not unheard of but it is also not common.  

Reducing Bounce Rates, as well as other visit metrics, take a lot of test, measure, refine type of actions and they don't happen overnight.  With consistent data reviews, increased visibility and study, the efficiency of your traffic can find itself.  

It should be noted as well that the expectations for Bounce Rates are different by channel.  I would not expect paid advertising to achieve a Bounce Rate typically as low as a good Organic Channel rate.  

The main message is to not overlook this valuable metric as it can help steer you towards a better user experience, stronger engagement and ultimately more leads.  

Image Credit

Photo by dylan nolte on Unsplash