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Jeremy Morgan

Mostly Coherent Ramblings of a Silicon Forest Software Developer

What the Heck Is Bounce Rate?

By: Jeremy Morgan






Bounce Rate is a web analytics term that defines how many people visit a page, and then leave that page without going anywhere else on your site. If someone lands on one of your pages and subsequently exits, that’s considered a bounce. If they hit another page on your site, it isn’t. The lower your Bounce Rate, the better. It could mean more people are exploring your site. Simple enough? From Wikipedia:

A bounce occurs when a web site visitor leaves a page or a site without visiting any other pages before a specified session-timeout occurs. There is no industry-standard minimum or maximum time by which a visitor must leave in order for a bounce to occur. Rather, this is determined by the session timeout of the analytics tracking software. I’ve been asked this question a lot lately because Google Analytics has been featuring Bounce Rate a little more prominently in their statistics. And naturally the question following is “is mine good or bad?” or “how can I improve it?

What is a good Bounce Rate?

This is a difficult question to answer without generalization. My answer is usually roughly between 20 and 30 percent is a good target range. There are many factors to consider, a big one is of course they type of page you’re measuring. If you are measuring the Bounce Rate off an entry page, and your rate is 25%, that means 75% of the people who land on it (through ads, SEO or however) are continuing on through your site. If it is a “click here to purchase” page you’ll be the luckiest salesperson alive if 75% of the people who read the page continue to a purchase page (not impossible, but very unlikely). So it depends on the type of page. For an entry page, or a content page you should focus on the 20%-30% range for best results. I’ve seen rates as low as 15%, but they aren’t common. Keep in mind some sites like news sites will naturally have a higher Bounce Rate, because people tend to scan headlines, or read an article, and head off to the next site. A site like this one (JeremyMorgan.com) is more of a niche oriented type of article, and I tend to run in the 30-35% range, which is decent for an article site. How-to sites may also suffer from high Bounce Rates, as people find what they were looking for, and exit to use the information.

What causes a high Bounce Rate?

One big thing of course is irrelevant content. If your content isn’t what the person searching was looking for, they likely won’t search your site for it, they simply move on. If you’re using deceptive tactics to get search results or clicks, you can expect a higher Bounce Rate. Also as I said earlier, “how to” type sites generally run a little higher, because of the focus of what people are looking for. Side note: in my experience submitting your sites to social media outlets like Digg, Reddit and Stumbleupon increase your Bounce Rates. Not because they send bad traffic, but because of the nature of the audience. They tend to be more “hit and run” type visitors. They scan your page, and immediately move on to the next link. This is especially true with stumbleupon because their users simply need to hit the stumble button to move on the next site.

Should I care about Bounce Rate?

In a general sense, you should pay attention to any kind of analytic data you can get to your site. but for most sites you shouldn’t invest a large amount of time and money on Bounce Rate until you’ve locked down bigger issues like conversions or bookmarking rates. In other words, keep it on the list of things to monitor and change, but don’t stress yourself out about it unless you find an 80% Bounce Rate somewhere. Once you have increased your conversion ratios, bookmarks, and things like that you can start tuning your Bounce Rate. If you run an e commerce site you should pay attention more closely than you would a news site.

How can I lower my Bounce Rate?

The best way to lower your Bounce Rate is to make your content good, and relevant. Write good headlines, and provide people the content they were searching for. Don’t try to gather extra clicks or search results with irrelevant terms. Here are a couple good articles to read: 5 tips for Writing Effective Web Headlines How to Analyze and Improve your Bounce Rate

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