Bounce Rate: Guide to a Mysterious Google Analytics Metric

Robert Hoang

March 19, 2020

If you’ve even just dabbled in the online marketing world, you’ve no doubt heard about bounce rate. It gets a lot of attention, and many marketers cower before it. But that’s because there are some misconceptions around how it works, why it’s important, and what you can do to improve it.

Most digital marketers panic at the sight of a high bounce rate. If your Google Analytics shows that you have a high bounce rate, some believe you’re doomed to a future without sales if you don’t change it right away. That’s not always true, so don’t raise the red flag just yet.

In this guide, we’ll go in-depth and see what this bounce rate malarkey is all about. We’ll look at:

  • What the bounce rate is
  • How the bounce rate works
  • Why is the bounce rate important
  • What indicates a good or bad bounce rate
  • What you can do to improve your bounce rate

If you’re not yet part of the Google Analytics Nerd Society of Australia (note, group may or may not exist), the bounce rate is the term used to describe the percentage of users that leave a web page immediately after viewing it.

If you were to take this definition literally, though, you’d be missing out on other parts of the analytics equation. That definition is not inaccurate, but there’s more to it. 

Google says that if a person enters your site and leaves without moving to another page, then that’s a bounce. But if a person interacts with that single page by clicking, subscribing, or doing anything else, that’s no longer a bounce.

Source: https://medium.com/

So, what really counts as a bounce?

Well, that comes down to how you track statistics and successes on your website. If you want to follow specific events or actions that happen on a particular page, then anything that’s not an action will be counted as a bounce. 

For example, say someone visits your page and reads the whole thing. They’re engaged, and they’re interested. Maybe they found the phone number for your business and called it. 

But they didn’t navigate away from that page, subscribe, or purchase any of your products online. You may have landed a new customer, but Google Analytics says they were a bounce.

When you look at Google Analytics, you’ll see a general bounce rate for your overall website. That’s the average of all the bounce rates you have for each particular page. But you can also look for the bounce rate for a specific page.

The average bounce rate for your overall site might not be worth considering as a metric. Why? Because if you have a business that offers services, and your website has seven pages, you’ll have seven different bounce rates. 

Each of those bounce rates means something different. You can’t use the overall bounce rate to determine each one’s success.

People spend the most time where it matters to them. For example, they might stay longer on your blog than on your about page. Also, interactions vary depending on what you have on the page, which creates a discrepancy in bounce rates.

Segmenting your bounce rates between pages is one of the best things you can do if you want to analyse data in detail.

To calculate a single-page bounce rate, you need to divide the number of bounces by the number of total visits.

Bounce Rate: Why is it Important?

Even though Google does not consider the bounce rate a relevant metric, it does have a role in your website analysis.

The bounce rate can alert you to something that you’re doing wrong in your marketing. Maybe you’re bringing the wrong type of traffic to your website. 

Perhaps your content isn’t relevant to your audience. Maybe your website is hard to navigate, and it creates more headaches for users.

All these factors can influence your bounce rate. Usually, if you have a high bounce rate, it means you have a problem that you need to fix. 

Look at who you attract to your website. The quality of your traffic can change everything.

If you go to a hardware store looking for a Halloween costume, you’re out of luck. Likewise, if people who have nothing do to with your niche end up on your site, they’ll leave. If you have a high bounce rate, start by pinpointing the cause and move forward from there.

Bounce Rate: What's Too Much or Too Little?

When looking at the bounce rate, how do you know what’s an excellent, acceptable, or low percentage? 

Before we answer that, you need to learn how to interpret the rate itself. To do that, you need to understand what goes into the calculation of the bounce rate.

What Your Audience Wants

In digital marketing, you have to play the role of psychic and therapist. You need to understand and anticipate your audience’s needs, problems, and pain points. 

Source: http://bloggingitbeautiful.blogspot.com/

Learn how they think and react. It’s fundamental consumer behaviour. Once you know your audience, make sure you’re targeting the right people with the correct information. 

When you find your tribe, your ads will bring them to your website, and that’s where you need to close the deal. Give them valuable content that makes them take action. Otherwise, they’ll bounce because there’s nothing that benefits them.

Page Type

There are multiple page types, so that means you need to know which one you want your customers to see first. Your blog page is more likely to have high bounce rates. Most people leave after reading an article without interacting with the page. 

Compared to that, an opt-in page will have low bounce rates because people are asked to take action, and Google takes that as no bounce.

Landing Page Design

Your landing page organization makes all the difference. If it’s too complicated with too many fonts and in-your-face images, then you’ll confuse people, and they’ll leave. 

Your landing page should be simple, clear, and easy to navigate if you want people to stay and interact with it. Make things as easy as possible for your audience.

Traffic

If you get traffic from sources unrelated to your brand, you can expect to have a high bounce rate. Make sure you’re not just investing money in ads without looking into where the traffic comes from. 

Solo Ads are one of the primary sources of bad traffic if you don’t know how to find the right vendors to send them out.

Marketing Channels

Where and how you target people can also influence your bounce rate. Highly targeted Facebook Ads, for example, will bring you lower bounce rates than a random post you make in a Facebook Group.

New or Old Users

If long-time customers or people who have previously visited your site return, there’s a higher chance your bounce rate will go down. New visitors tend to leave faster without interacting, thus increasing the bounce rate.

Device Compatibility

How people access your website also plays a role in how high your bounce rate is. If most of the traffic is on mobile and your website is not responsive on mobile devices, then you’ll have high bounce rates.

Make sure your website’s layout is compatible with all types of devices. Check how it appears on desktop, mobile, and tablet before you save your changes.

Good or Bad Bounce?

A single factor can’t tell you whether you have a good or bad bounce rate. Things like your industry, ideal audience, type of website, and what devices people use will influence your bounce rate.

An average bounce rate is somewhere between 45%-55%. That’s the general standard in most industries.

But, you need to look beyond that. For example, look at the average bounce rates for different types of websites.

  • Landing pages have the highest bounce rates. The average is 60% – 90%
  • Battling for the spot with the highest bounce rates are blogs and magazine-style websites with a 60% – 90% average
  • Content delivery websites have an average of 35% – 60% bounce.
  • Lead generation websites and landing pages have an average bounce rate of 35% – 55%
  • B2B websites have a higher bounce rate than B2C sites, with an average of 25% – 55%
  • E-commerce websites usually have the lowest bounce rates, with an average of 20% – 45%

Google Analytics also can show you what the average bounce rate of your industry is. To find that information, go to Account Settings, and make sure your benchmarking box is checked.

Once you do that, you can compare your bounce rate with your industry average. Go to the Landing Page sections in Google Analytics to see it.

Keep in mind, that’s the industry average for an overall website.

We talked about how you shouldn’t always trust the overall bounce rate. It’s better to look deeper by using the drill-down report to see how your bounce rate varies for different pages. 

Doing that allows you to compare your bounce rate for a specific page with the industry average for the same type of page.

You can go even see niche bounce rate averages by going to the Channels section in your account.

One thing you need to remember is that the bounce rate only helps you figure out what’s wrong with your website or marketing efforts. It’s not just a vanity tool, even if some people use it for that. If you’re going to improve your digital marketing, you need to see it for the beacon of analytic light it is.

There's no such thing as a perfect bounce rate.

Source: https://imgur.com/

Everything is relative, and it’s a result of what you’re doing consistently with your ads and website. 

Instead of worrying about how high your bounce rate is, concentrate on improving specific aspects of your website and overall marketing strategies. That’s how you’ll see improvements. 

If you plan to compare your site with others in your niche, make sure you do it at the deepest level. Use the bounce rate averages for specific sections and types of pages if you really want to show off.

How to Improve Your Bounce Rate

Now that we’ve covered the bounce rate basics, how can you get to work and improve your bounce rate? 

Improving your bounce rate is just a way of improving your website and advertising methods. That’s what you should be aiming for because the end goal for any business is to make sales and turn a profit.

The trick is not to focus on improving the bounce rate itself. Instead, focus on improving your customer retention, your conversions, your sales, and your bottom line. Better statistics in those areas are what really drive your bounce rate down.

Site Security

People don’t want to have their information stolen, and they sure don’t want viruses on their computers. The first thing someone does when a website is not secure is to leave it. That’s why you need to make sure your website has an SSL certificate. 

Better security also helps with the loading speed. A secured website is faster than one that is not secured, and security plus speed will help keep customers around

Site Speed

Time is money, and speed is everything in our modern world. People don’t have the time to wait for a website to load. If it takes longer than 2 or three seconds, most people navigate away.

That’s why a website that loads slowly has high bounce rates and bad overall traffic and conversions. 

To improve speed, compress your images, cut down the fancy design, and lower the quality of some videos (without making them blurry).

Design

We all like a beautiful website. It makes you want to look longer, but does it help with the bounce rate?

Elon Musk Cybertruck Meme

After all, just like in real life, good looks aren’t everything in marketing. Make sure users have a great experience beyond the visual. That means you need to entertain them and grab their attention while adding value. 

Make your site easy to navigate, too. That way, people won’t just want to take action—they’ll actually be able to.

Mobile-Friendly

A mobile device is like an arm extension for most people. Most of the web traffic comes from mobile devices, and in the past two years, almost half of the e-commerce revenue came from purchases made on mobile.

Create your website in a way that is compatible with mobile use if you want low bounce rates and higher conversions.

Credibility 

We buy from businesses we trust, so do all you can to create a relationship with your audience. 

Share valuable content consistently in all possible forms. Use social proof, testimonials, influencers to access your ideal customer and show them you understand and want to help them. And above all, be transparent with your policies and practices.

Relevant Content

The content you share needs to be more than valuable. It needs to be relevant to your audience. If your audience is interested in golf courses, you’ll have a hard time getting their attention with content about dog food. 

Show that you know what they need as soon as they get on your website. Think big and exciting headlines, images, or videos that capture their attention and share a strong message.

Speak Their Language 

Write your content in a way people understand and can read easily. You don’t need to write academically—in fact, it’s better if you don’t. Make your content skimmable and use language everyone can understand. 

Be personal in your marketing efforts, and people will engage with you. A cold and distant approach will only alienate your audience and increase your bounce rate.

Don’t Force It

Forget about pop-ups. Pop-ups are the online equivalent to people running up to you to sell you stuff on the street. Most people hate it, and it’s proof that the in-your-face approach doesn’t always work.

If you want to get attention, do it through excellent copy and streamlined design. 

Don’t Force It

Forget about pop-ups. Pop-ups are the online equivalent to people running up to you to sell you stuff on the street. Most people hate it, and it’s proof that the in-your-face approach doesn’t always work.

If you want to get attention, do it through excellent copy and streamlined design. 

Persuasion

You need to make people take action. Whether they buy something, click on a video, or comment on a blog post, it doesn’t matter.

Write your copy with a purpose, and add calls to action on your website to motivate your visitors to take the next step. This will not only improve your bounce rate, but it will also increase your conversion rate.

Stay Ahead

Don’t slack off when it comes to knowledge in your industry. Always be one step ahead and come up with content ideas that grab attention and create engagement.

If you’re ahead of the competition, you’ll get more customers. They’ll see that you know what they need when no one else does, which means more traffic and conversions for you.

Conclusion

You know what the bounce rate is and how it works. Are you confident enough now to dig in and improve yours?

Always look more in-depth when it comes to bounce rates and see things from a different perspective. The bounce rate only shows you what’s wrong or right with your digital marketing. 

Use this guide to improve your overall advertising strategy and create better customer relationships and higher conversions on your website.

About Robert Hoang

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