Understanding Your Analytics – Bounce Rate

Bounce Rate Featured

Understanding your analytics helps you get a better grasp on what is happening on your website. One statistic that I see people not understand completely is the bounce rate.

The Bounce Rate Misconception

A common misconception of the bounce rate is that it means someone visits your site for only a couple of seconds before exiting off to somewhere else.

The Definition of Bounce Rate

The bounce rate is the percentage of people who visit your website and leave after only visiting one page, regardless of how long they spend on that page.

The bounce rate is the percentage of people who visit your website and leave after only visiting one page. It does not matter if they visit for one second or one hour.

The only limiting factor is the analytics package – each package has a certain amount of time before it times out. So if you have a visitor exploring a page of your website for half an hour and the analytics times out, that will be counted as a bounce, even if the person then moves to another page on your website.

So the bounce rate does not mean that people are quickly hitting the back button when they see the horror that is your website. Then what does it mean? What is a good bounce rate?

A Good Bounce Rate

It is generally considered that a “good” bounce rate is a low one – that is, a 10% bounce rate is better than a 50% bounce rate. But that isn’t necessarily the case. What is considered a “good” bounce rate is dependant on your niche, your website, and your goals.

For instance, if you have a one page website, then expect a 100% bounce rate!

When A High Bounce Rate Is Good

Here are some ideas when a high bounce rate is ideal for your website –

  • Your website is designed so that most people get everything they need from viewing one page. After all, you may lose people if they can’t find the information quickly. I have definitely seen a trend in some websites placing most of the important information on a single page.
  • Your website is a directory of links out to other websites
  • Your website is full of resources hosted on other websites. By this I mean your website is a collection of awesome resources, such as ebooks, but these ebooks are located on another location such as dropbox, for instance.
  • The aim of your website is to get people clicking on advertising or affiliate links to make you some money

So you can see that there are instances when a high bounce rate is a good thing because it can mean your website is doing its job properly. (This is one reason why it is important to know your goals for your website).

When A Low Bounce Rate Is Good

If your website’s goals are for someone to explore as much as possible, such as a blog or ecommerce website, then you want your bounce rate to be lower.

One handy way to evaluate your website is to look at the bounce rate on individual pages. This can tell you which pages are driving traffic deeper into your website and which are not. (It is also handy to check out your exit pages when looking at this – exit pages are the pages people are leaving your website on).

Check Out “Time On Site”

Another analytic that is helpful to look at in conjunction with the bounce rate is the “Time On Site” – the average amount of time people are spending on your website.

If you have a high bounce rate yet people seem to be spending time on your site, things are probably OK. Likewise, a low bounce rate combined with only a couple of seconds average time on your site may indicate people are having trouble finding what they are looking for and give up.

Ways To Lower Your Bounce Rate

If your goal is to lower your bounce rate here are some ideas you could take:

  • Get rid of a splash page. They were annoying back in 1999. You are probably losing most of your audience here.
  • Is your website easy to navigate? Is there somewhere for your viewer to go when they have finished reading a page? Is there a clear call to action on what to do next?
  • Look at search terms to your website. Are you giving people what they are after?
  • Check your website works in all the different browsers and devices. It may be that your website doesn’t work or display properly.

Ways To Increase Your Bounce Rate

I get the feeling that most people want to decrease their bounce rate, but for those who want to increase it here is an idea:

  • Create better calls to action to direct traffic to the direction you want them to go.

What Is An Average Bounce Rate?

An average bounce rate depends on your website’s aims. This inc.com article expresses 50% as an average bounce rate, with 60% a “concern” and 80% as a major problem.

Ultimately the right bounce rate for you should be something you determine yourself. Have a look at your website’s current bounce rate, and decide if it is acceptable for you. If not, work towards correcting the problems. But perhaps don’t worry about it too much unless you are close to an extreme. For instance, a high bounce rate might not be a sign of poor content but a sign of poorly targeted viewers. The problem may be in your marketing or another area. The bounce rate in isolation does not pin point if your website is poor.

Take Action

Don’t get overwhelmed by your bounce rate. Analytics are there not as a reward for your hard work but as a way to analyse and evaluate your website’s performance. If you know your website’s goals it becomes easier to interpret your website’s analytics. If your website isn’t performing as well as you would have liked, then evaluate and take action to improve.

What is your website’s bounce rate, and what does that mean for you?

Here is a little peak at my current bounce rate – While it may be a “concern” for inc.com, I am very happy with my average time on site – I am hoping people are reading and enjoying my content!

Bounce Rate

Let me know your website’s bounce rate in the comments and if it aligns with your goals. And don’t forget to like me on facebook.

No Comments

Sergio Felix

Hey Carlie, my numbers aren’t great but I’m kind of happy with them anyway (I’m driving some untargeted traffic)

– Avg. Visit Duration 00:04:44

– Bounce Rate 66.56%

– Pages / Visit 2.20

I used to be very obsessed about these numbers (and Alexa rankings too) but then I gave up on this and started focusing on creating great content instead.

Seems to be going good so far!

Reply

Dita

Hi Carrie,

I just left an answer to your comment on my post regarding the 60 day challenge and I wanted to read your post as the bounce rate was my next topic.

I am very pleased with my bounce rate. When I analyzed my results for the last 60 days (duration of the challenge) I was happy to report that my bounce rate is very low averaging 0.99%.

Also the average time spent on my blog is 25 minutes which is very encouraging.

Your view on “why some people would want to have a high bounce rate” is quite interesting. I have not thought of it that way at all.

regards,

Dita

Reply

SproutSpire

I wrote this post because I have been seeing some people really concerned about their bounce rate, and also because I have read some people getting the bounce rate wrong!

Honestly I agree with you. I don’t think it really matters all that much unless it is in the extreme. Sergio, I think you and I provide great content, and our time on site proves that!

Reply

SproutSpire

Hi Dita,

I would be a bit careful with those results, to make sure they are not including yourself, as that can skew your results. Also you should test to make sure that your analytics are functioning properly, as I have heard sometimes people with an extrememly low bounce rate have a fault in their analytics.

Don’t get discouraged if it goes up as you get more traffic, this is only natural.

But excuse me if I was wrong about that and congrats that you are meeting your goals.

Reply

Suresh Khanal

Greatly insightful post. I like the way you made everything clear in single post.

High bounce rate is sometimes due to the best placement of most relevant ads that are earning good money to you. You’ll never wish to decrease bounce rate.

Rather than bounce rate, I think ‘time on site’ and ‘returning visitors’ plays major role and they are the area we need to focus better.

Thanks for this good post!

Reply

SproutSpire

Thanks for commenting Suresh! It’s all relative, isn’t it.

Carlie

Reply

Charlotte

My bounce rate is 60%, and I think I’m happy about that.

Reply

SproutSpire

That’s great!

Carlie

Reply

Stephen Malan

Good Post Carlie,

Our bounce rate is a few points above yours a this time. I found the comment by Suresh on focusing on returning visitors and time on site insightful. I looked at the time on site with our returning visitors and it was over 7 minutes. Will have to spend more time drilling down on this information as it may be quite useful.

Thanks again!

Reply

SproutSpire

I’m glad you got something out of it Stephen! 7 mins is quite impressive, well done

Carlie

Reply

Jill

This was really eye opening from me Carlie, thanks so much for sharing.

Reply

SproutSpire

Glad you found it helpful!

Carlie

Reply

Dara

This was an eye opener. I had thought a high bounce rate meant visitors left the page very quickly and I was having trouble understanding how a webpage could a 100% bounce rate but a fairly long visit duration. This clears it up. Thanks!

Reply

Carlie Hamilton

No worries Dara. That was one of the main reasons why I wrote this post, there seemed to be a lot of confusion out there – one I see often reproduced on other blog posts, increasing the confusion. Glad to clear it up for you

Reply

Mark

Hi Carlie!

Thank you for sharing one of the best and most complete definitions of a “bounce back rate.”

And how to interpret your Google analytics stats.

Your definition really makes more sense. I just found your totally excellent blog while commenting on Leslie Denning.

Thank you so much for sharing your expertise!

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