Understand the nuts and bolts of Bounce Rate, and make the most out of your dollars.

As you take your first step into the world of web analytics, you’ve probably come across the term “bounce rate” a lot. However, like every thing else in analytics, bounce rate is not as easy as it appears to be. That’s why in this article, I will help you understand bounce rate properly and devise a strategy to make the best out of this sexy metric.

What is bounce rate

To put it simply, bounce rate is the percentage of people who come to your website and leave instantly. In another words, they come, they see nothing interesting, and they Irish exit.

The very first tip you receive analytics-wise is to keep an eye on bounce rate. That’s a solid advice for several reasons:

  • It’s available in pretty much all web analytics tool, including Google Analytics.
  • It is easy to understand Bounce Rate, unlike Time on Site and a torrent of other metrics with all their hidden complications and nuances.
  • Businesses from small to big can use Bounce Rate to identify low-hanging, easy-to-fix fruit in their digital experience.
  • Bounce Rate is closely related to customer behavior, which is the holy goals in web analytics. If your website is not meeting your customers’ satisfaction, then what is it doing?

What does bounce rate mean for our marketing efforts?

To illustrate, suppose your bounce rate is 90%. What does that mean? It means that 90% came to your site and didn’t see more than one page. They refused to give you one tiny click. They leave you no chance to shower them with your awesomeness.

Tragic. Bounce Rate is the lowest bar of success: all your want from a visitor in terms of Engagement is one click, and you couldn’t achieve that. And we are not even talking about conversion yet.

At a 10,000 feet view, a high bounce rate is a valid cause for concern. Whether you are a not-for profit, a B2b website selling uncool machines, or a free stock photo provider, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where one-page view is a success.

Dig deeper in Bounce Rate

The Bounce Rate I have discussed above is an aggregate number, and that’s not enough to give you a full picture of what stinks on your website. To understand Bounce Rate deeper, we need to look at its companions:

  • Landing Pages
  • Channels
  • Organic Keywords

Just think of an orchestra. Usually, it’s the conductor, the concertmaster, or the pianist that gets the bulk of the attention. But no orchestra can perform beautifully without the all-in efforts of players in the strings, woodwind, brass, and percussion groups.

Without further ado, let’s examine close companions of Bounce Rate.

Measure the Bounce Rate of your most visited pages

For this purpose, there are two reports to analyze here: the All Pages and the Landing Page reports, both located neatly under the Behavior > Site Content section.

In 10 seconds, theses embarrassing reports help me identify the pages that are bouncing off traffic like a basketball, and which present a gold mine that I would never have thought of.

Your game plan

Your top visited pages should absorb people like a magnet, not bouncing them. Therefore, any fix to the bounce rate for these pages will yield high ROI. Now, ask yourself:

Are you explicit about what you want your visitors to do? Did you place the right call to action at the right place? Did you optimize your user experience with these easy web typography tips?

And for the determined souls, check out Raelyn Tan’s sweet and actionable article on tips to squash down your bounce rate.

Measure the Bounce Rate of Channels

Since quality traffic is important, your goal is to figure out which channels are sending you lousy traffic in particular.

To this end, go to the Acquisition > All Traffic seciton and take a look.

In my case, organic search beats other channels (direct, referral, social) by a landslide when it comes to bounce rate. This makes sense in hindsight, because my articles tend to answer niche questions, and people who land on my site through organic search are having a problem that they need to solve immediately.

Your game plan

Is it time you revisit the ROI of certain channels? If 80% of your results come from 20% of your activities, what would that 20% look like? By the way, I’d like to quote this beautiful advice from Avinash Kaushik:

Life is about taking action, and if your work is not driving action, you need to stop and reboot.

Avinash Kaushik

Bounce Rate in relation to Organic Keywords

The magical search engine is probably responsible for sending you a bulk of your traffic. However, what if you rank high for certain keywords, but the bounce rate is clocking 100%?

That’s when you need to understand the bounce rate for your top-performing keywords. Let’s go to the Organic Keywords report under the Acquisition > Campaign section to find the answer for yourself.

Understand Bounce Rate for Organic Keywords

This report takes me by surprise. I have different variations of keywords on the same topic (create bleed in Photoshop), but only one performs decently.

For the keyword “create a bleed in Photoshop”, I got a bounce rate of 33.33% with the average session duration of nearly 7 minutes. A small light in the midst of the tunnel, but I’d gladly take any small wins I can.

Your game plan

Make sure that you attach these reports to your SEO strategy. A slight change in a focus key phrase can lead to vastly different out comes. We all want to send traffic to the right landing pages, don’t we?

When high Bounce Rate is excusable

If you see a crazily high bounce rate for your website, don’t throw your hands in the air yet. There are exceptions to anything in life, and that also applies to Bounce Rate.

Blogs

I am thinking of blogs. They are a rare animal in the world wide web kingdom. People come to your blog page to read your expert answer to a vexing question that they have, then they’ll leave.

In this scenario, it is okay to have a high bounce rate. Generally, I think bounce rate is not a good metric for content heavy sites.

However, I don’t think any content creators out there are looking to run a blog where visitors don’t take any action. Thankfully, there are still plenty of indirect ways you can fix this woeful number.

  • Find a niche for your blog. You can’t expect visitors to click further when your blog is a hodgepodge of new iPhone models, kitchen gadgets, and book reviews. If you don’t know where to start, check out Mary Fernandez’s thorough guide to finding a niche for your blog.
  • Ask people to sign up for your mailing list.
  • Nudge them to explore other posts with clear, understandable navigation menu, or an Other Articles You May Like section. More reason to niche down your blog, dear friends.
  • Get them to read your About Me page and be struck by your magnificence.

Additionally, what should you do analytics-wise? Hop on the New vs Returning report under the Audience > Behavior section.

Focus on the New Visitor bucket. You want a low bounce rate for this group because you wan them to take action. In particular, you always gain some value (reputation, economic) when visitors engage more with your website.

Key takeaways

If you don’t know where to go with your web analytics, the very first thing you can do is trying to understand Bounce Rate.

Admittedly, it is not the answer to every mishap in your marketing efforts, but at the very least, it:

  • gets you to focus on what truly matters
  • shows you where which marketing activities yield abysmal ROI
  • hints which web pages need a rework

What do you think about Bounce Rate? Please share your tips, tricks, success stories, failure lessons in taming this beautiful beast.

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