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Website Metrics: What is Bounce Rate?
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Image courtesy of www.vikingmagic.comMost of us in the search industry are familiar with the term bounce rate, but there are site owners, webmasters and traditional marketers who may not know what bounce rate (as it pertains to a website) is. Furthermore, many people may not be measuring the bounce rate of their website pages or are not using it as a metric to measure the success of their web properties.

Bounce Rate Defined

Bounce Rate is the percentage of web site visitors who arrive at an entry page on your web site, then leave without visiting any other pages or leave without going any deeper into the site. Bounce rate is measured as a percentage. Ideally you want your site pages to have a lower bounce rate.

So why is bounce rate important? Well bounce rate is a useful metric that allows you to measure the quality of your content and the quality of your web pages. A high bounce rate generally indicates that site entrance pages are not relevant or useful to your visitors. It is an indication that the user was unable to find the information that they were looking for based on their query. From a search engine optimization point of view, bounce rate is a reflection of the stickiness of your site.

Site stickiness is something that the search engines are looking at when determining the relevancy of your site for a given query. As the search engines refine their algorithms, in the future you can expect sites that have greater stickiness to do better in the organic rankings. The search engines are focusing on user intent more and more in order to provide a richer search experience for the user. In fact, this past December, we at Enquiro held a pretty cool webinar and round-table discussion on The Future of Search 2010. During the webinar, members from three of the four major search engines identified user intent as a main focus in 2008. (You can download the whitepaper here for free.)

Bounce rate in a roundabout way is one metric that you can use to measure user intent on your site. If you create a landing page about your product or service and are experiencing a high bounce rate, it's pretty obvious that your content is not addressing the needs of your visitors. Their intent was possible to find some other information. Maybe they were looking for pricing, or a whitepaper download, or maybe they were simply looking for some comparison stats. Whatever the case may be, a high bounce rate can have a severe impact on your site traffic and ultimately on your online leads.

So what is a good bounce rate percentage you ask? Well the fact is that it depends. It depends on the page, it depends on your industry. Ideally, you want to see your bounce rate at less than 50% for starters. If we are talking bounce rate on a specific landing page or important product page than ideally you are looking for an even lower bounce rate. Generally speaking if these pages have a bounce rate in the 35 - 45% range you are doing OK. I have seen pages with bounce rates as low as 18-20% which is excellent.

How Can I Improve Bounce Rate of My Site Pages?

Great question, I'm glad you asked. There are a number of ways that you can improve bounce rate for your site pages. Remember, you want to lower your bounce rate percentage, not increase it.
  1. Understand Your Audience - First, strive to understand your audience and site visitors. Determine what type of information they are looking for and provide it on your site. For some that may mean providing things like pricing comparisons, industry stats, white paper downloads, detailed product descriptions or the like.

  2. Write More Compelling Content/Landing Pages - Once you understand what it is that your audience is looking for, create content around their needs. Give them what they are looking for.

  3. Incorporate well Optimized, Catchy Page Titles/Headings - Completing a keyword analysis and ongoing keyword research to identify the terms, phrases and buzzwords that your audience is using can go a long way in optimizing your content. If your content speaks to your audience, your bounce rate will go down.
  4. Use A/B Testing to Test Landing Pages - Get creative. Test your landing pages with different variations to see what works and what doesn't.

  5. Keep Your Pages Clean - Make your Webpages easy to read; Use whitespace, bullet lists, don't make your pages too busy. Make it easy for the user to find what they are looking for. Keep in mind that if you make it too easy, your bounce rate can actually remain constant as the user finds what they are looking for an exit your site.

  6. Work to Improve Site Stickiness - Give the users something to make them stick around longer. Help them convert on your site. Have them subscribe to your content. Ever heard of RSS feeds? Use them.

  7. Speak to their Needs - Address their "pains" by focusing on benefits rather than features. Communicate how your product/service can address their needs.
Bounce rate is a metric that you should be looking at as a part of your search engine metrics dashboard. It is easy to measure especially for users of Google Analytics. To view bounce rate in Google Analytics, simply go to the Bounce Rate report under Visitors > Visitor Trending > Bounce Rate.

If you haven't paid attention to bounce rate yet, you should. Not knowing that your site visitors are not finding the information that they are looking for when they land on your site can be what what is killing your conversions and why you are not getting the traffic to your site that you should be.


posted by Jody @ Tuesday, May 06, 2008  
  • At 11:18 PM, Anonymous search engine optimization said…

    Thanks for sharing this great post! Very helpful! :D

  • At 1:50 PM, Blogger Irtiza104 said…

    thanks. i was confused about bounce rates before. now i know a little bit more about them.


  • At 6:06 AM, Anonymous Logaholic said…

    Hi there, thanks for the post! What I'd like to add is that from my experience the bounce rate really depends on the content of the site.

    With blogs, for instance, a high bounce rate shouldn't be considered necessarily a negative thing, since there you want your visitors to quickly scan and read posts, which are almost always on the landing/home page. In a blog return visitors are way more important than bounce rate (which tells you little about how interesting your content is). Also, for university pages, where the home page contains links to external pages ( e.g a university site with the different faculty pages) the bounce rate for this page would be 100% most of the time but this doesn't reflect the actualy performance of the site.

  • At 12:51 PM, Anonymous Car Warranty said…

    Thank you for clarifying this.

    I have one site with hundreds of strong backlinks that has a 74% bounce rate - they click through to the merchant that I'm promoting. This site is no where to be found in the serps.

    A second site, has only 5 pages of content, 100 or so PR 0 backlinks and a bounce rate of only 14.7%, which is ranking VERY well in Google.

    Now I know why, thanks to you! This was a bit confusing when looking in analytics and thankful for the explanation.


  • At 5:42 PM, Anonymous GoogleAnalyticsAddict said…

    How relevant are these percentages now? We have seen our bounce rate drop radically in the last 6 months, what can that be attributed to?

  • At 3:58 AM, Anonymous epc certificate said…

    great post some good posts will keep these in mind. Will bookmark your site as a reference

  • At 1:19 PM, Anonymous SnallaBolaget said…

    Excellent article - I was unsure if my bounce rate was good or not, and this answered it. My site has seen a nice rise in traffic this last month, but I was worried, because my bounce rate went from 0.92% to 6.20%... I will stop worrying now. ;)

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