What is Bounce Rate? (And What It Isn't)

Have you ever gone to a party, and thought, “Nah, this is boring. Let’s bounce!”? Maybe the music was too loud, maybe they were out of beer—maybe you showed up to the wrong house! Anyway, the record will show that you arrived at the doorway, made a quick impression, and then promptly left before exploring any of the other rooms. The same principle is behind Bounce Rate, one of Google Analytics’ most misunderstood statistics. But as we’ll discover, there are plenty of factors that come into play when dissecting this statistic. We’ll explore a few of these in this post.

Bounce Rate Like a Bouncey Castle

What is Bounce Rate?

Bounce rate is the percentage of viewers who arrive at your website, and leave without clicking through to any other pages. If ten people visit your webpage and nine of them click on at least one link, your Bounce Rate will be 10%, highlighting that mysterious stranger who didn’t click to explore another page for whatever reason.

**Think about this as you read: This blog post has its own Bounce Rate, and our Analytics team will be examining it later. Your actions will help determine this number. Do you feel like you will click through to other pages when you finish this post? Whether the answer is yes, or no, think about why that is. And is that necessarily a good or a bad thing for us? What do you think we hope to expect? Most importantly: How does this line of thinking apply to your website?**

What is a good Bounce Rate? Or a bad one?

To properly understand Bounce Rate, it is important to give up the idea of “good” or “bad.” Bounce Rate is a statistic. And, like any statistic, it should never be taken in isolation to make general conclusions. Perspective is key. For instance, if you’ve hired a firm to design and run your business’s website, and your site attracts only seven visitors, it doesn’t matter whether you have a high bounce rate, or even a low bounce rate—where are the visitors? Similarly, if you run the most lucrative car dealership in town, with one of the best reputations around, then your Bounce Rate shouldn’t rank among your primary concerns. Life is good! So just as you should be suspicious when your barber suggests you need a haircut, be a little wary when someone points to a Bounce Rate in a presentation and builds their case based on a number. confused 

Not all pages are created equal

Each page on your website fills a unique function. And, ultimately, these pages should work together in a way that best helps you sell cars. Your inventory pages should have low bounce rates, as customers should want to click on more links as they browse and compare vehicles. Your home page should also have a low bounce rate since it acts as the main hub to all other content pages. If your Bounce Rate is high here, then either you have an off-putting webpage (you should be able to tell), or you’re too good at attracting the wrong kinds of visitors (think car buyers from far away regions looking for local service). Meanwhile, some pages should have a higher bounce rate if you’re doing things right. Blog posts with regularly updated content and “Contact Us” pages are both natural one-and-done stops. Try to include some more engaging links to keep your visitors on the site if it makes sense to do so, but don’t be discouraged by a high Bounce Rate here. 

Reasons why you might have a high Bounce Rate

  • Your site isn’t engaging: This is what you should be worried about. If your content is too bland, if your navigation tabs aren’t anticipating your visitors’ interests, or if your Calls to Action are missing or simply not enticing enough, you’ll have a poor website. You’ll probably also have a high Bounce Rate.
  • False advertising: If you’re looking for a truck and you click on “Check Out These Great Pickups,” only to find this at the other end of the link, chances are you’ll exit right away and refine your search terms (before never looking at your neighbour in the same way again). Somewhere along the line your website isn’t meeting expectations; either your content doesn’t measure up, or the link to your site had a misleading description. Either way, your visitors will bounce.
  • Your landing pages are also your Exit Pages: People need to leave a website eventually, and some pages act as better terminals than others. Your Bounce Rate may be high if the sites your web visitors are landing on answer all of their questions, leaving them fully satisfied and ready to move on to their next task. (E.g. If someone is looking up your dealership hours, then chances are their web search will have them arrive at the very page they need, after which they can quickly move on to whatever else is grabbing their attention, like driving to your dealership.)

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When Bounce Rate is helpful

Bounce Rate is a bit like reading body language. Sometimes you can come close to making accurate judgments on first sight alone, with a lone data point, but this method is unreliable. To get closer to the truth you need to observe changes over time compared to a base rate, or what is considered typical for that stat. Bounce Rate is your canary in the coal mine. When you make changes to the design of one of your webpages (say you embed a few more links in the text, or add a few more call to action buttons), if the Bounce Rate for that page drops, then it is likely that your strategy had some effect. Especially if your Bounce Rate for that page has historically been consistent.

How to lower your bounce rate and keep it that way!

It’s simple: Make a truly awful website where people are forced to navigate through a whole bunch of pages to hunt down an answer for their basic question. They will eventually give up in frustration and never revisit your website, which protects you from future threats to your Bounce Rate. Genius! Or not. You might just have to get used to the ambiguity of this statistic. Keep an eye on your Bounce Rate, but don’t worry too much about it. Focus, instead, on how your analytic measures work together. For more information on Google Analytics basics, or for a Free Audit on your Bounce Rate, contact us!

97 thoughts on “What is Bounce Rate? (And What It Isn't)

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