Demystifying the Bounce Rate in Google Analytics

Whether you’re a business owner, a new internet marketer, or just want to better understand your website’s health, Google Analytics can provide a wealth of information… just as long as you understand the metrics that you are reading.
The Bounce Rate

One of the most important metrics to pay attention to while analyzing Google Analytics, is the bounce rate. The bounce rate tells us what a user does once they land on your site: do they click through and interact with your site or do they view one page and leave? Usually the bounce rate answers the question, “How qualified are your website visitors?” But, because there are many factors to consider, it’s important to remember that a high bounce rate is not always bad.

What is a healthy bounce rate?

A common question regarding Google Analytics statistics is, “What is normal?” This question is nearly impossible to answer as every business is different. Depending on the industry, there are indicators that tell if your site has a healthy bounce rate.

As a general rule, an average bounce rate for a conversion centric site is about 40-60%. A great bounce rate is in the 30% range and a bounce rate in the 70% range indicates a potential issue and deserves some attention (Avinash Kaushik, Google Analytics).*

What does a high bounce rate indicate?

A high bounce rate indicates that a high percentage of users are landing on a page of your site and leaving without further interaction with the rest of the website.

It is important to look at the page on an individual level to determine if a high bounce rate is an indicator of an unsatisfied visitor or if it is an indicator of a satisfied visitor. For example, if a page is poorly optimized, a high bounce rate will be an indicator that the page needs some attention. However, if a visitor lands on a page and finds all of the information they are looking for, like a phone number or an informative article, then they may also bounce – but are not unsatisfied.

When you should take steps to lower your bounce rate?

If your site has a high bounce rate, take a look at the individual pages with high bounce rates and identify the reasons at the page level. Once you identify the reasons, you can determine if you need to take action of if the page is performing as it should.

Some reasons a high bounce rate may exist on your page(s) include:

Keyword Assignment: Does the information on your page correspond with the keywords you’ve assigned to the page or with the ads you are running?

Assigning specific keyword focus to pages on your website is important for the search engines to understand what is on your website pages. The search engine will match website pages to search queries. If the page, however, has incorrectly assigned a keyword focus to the actual content topic on the page, it is likely that a user will visit the site and find that the content does not actually speak to their query; they will then “bounce” off your site.

Quality Content: Is your content informative and easy to interpret?

Content refers to the information that makes up your website. This is most commonly known as the text, but can also refer to the photos and videos on your website. If the content is informative, well-appointed and well organized, it’s very likely that your page will be beneficial to the user. If your content does not have these traits, the user will feel uncomfortable and likely leave.

Site Design: Is your site visually appealing, easy to navigate through and organized to help lead your users through to their goal? Additionally, can your users access your site from multiple devices – desktop, tablet and mobile? Website design contributes to user experience and website trust; this determines their interaction with you websites.

Segmentation: Pay attention to different profile information such as device (mobile, tablet, desk top), browsers (Chrome, IE, Firefox, etc.) and geographic locations. By monitoring this type of information, you will be able identify potential issues. For example, if you are a serviced based business in a local area, if folks from a different state land on your page, they might realize that you won’t be able to service them where they are – and leave. This could then indicate that the page’s geographic optimization may need attention.

Other areas to consider:

Single page site: If all of the information on your site exists on one page, a user will never have the opportunity to navigate to more pages on your site. This will cause the visit to register as a bounce.

Event Tracking: Interactions such as clicking social buttons, downloading PDFs or playing videos do not register as multiple page visits. Adding Event Tracking to those items will cause the interaction to register, rather than being counted as a non-interaction (bounce).

Instances when you shouldn’t worry:

Bookmarked pages: If a user bookmarks a page and returns to it later and only visits the bookmarked page, the visit will count as a bounce. But, the user came back to that page to find the information they marked as important, so there is nothing that should or could be done about lowering the bounce rate for these types of visits.

A great blog article can also lead to a high bounce rate. The purpose of a blog is to share knowledge, keep fresh content on your site and to establish yourself as an industry leader. If you are producing a great blog and great blog articles people will find your blog useful. If the blog is informative, your readers will simply read the information and leave. Because people from all over come across blog articles, if you are a local based business, it’s likely that some of your blog readers may not turn into customers. Even though this is all true, there are still many reasons to keep an onsite blog on your site!

Easily accessible information is another reason why you may find a higher bounce rate. For example, if your phone number is listed on your website, some visitors might be coming just to find out how to contact you – they’ll call and leave your website without interacting. This will count as a bounce, but hey, you got a conversion out of it so who cares?!

Interpreting bounce rates can help increase your conversions

If you have identified the high bouncing pages on your site to be because of a need for further optimization, you’ll know exactly where to start in an effort to bring that bounce rate down. When this is the case, improving these areas will also improve user experience.

Search engine users are looking for answers. If a user can easily reach their goal through your website, your bounce rate will likely be low while your conversions will likely increase. For more information on bounce rates and how to effectively optimize your website, contact Full Media – we love this stuff.

*Each industry and business is different; an exact number cannot be assigned as the normal bounce rate.