Bounce rate can be one of the most anxiety-producing metrics in Google Analytics, mostly because it can easily be misunderstood. Many people think that a high bounce rate is always a bad thing, or means that visitors to your web page didn’t find anything valuable or good. While that’s not always the case, a low bounce rate is a good indication that a page is functioning well so it makes sense that many website owners want to keep their bounce rates as low as possible. Below, we’ll chat through everything you need to know about understanding what bounce rate means, and how to lower it.
Bounce rate is one of the metrics measured by Google Analytics. The bounce rate shows the percentage of users who came to a web page, looked at only that page, and then left. Imagine bounce rate as how many people “came, saw, and left” when they entered your website. What can be confusing is that the bounce rate doesn’t necessarily tell you how the visitor felt about their visit or whether or not they’ve entered your conversion funnel. Did they leave because they didn’t like what they saw? Or did they leave because they found exactly what they needed and stopped searching? Bounce rate doesn’t take scrolling into account, but it does take any other interaction including filling out a form, entering an email address, or clicking to another page.
Before we dive into ways to lower your bounce rate or how to tell if your bounce rate is good or bad, it’s worth noting that bounce rate and exit rate, though often confused for each other, are not the same measurements. Google Analytics measures bounce rate as the percentage of users who visited and left a page without interacting with it, while exit rate measures the percentage of visitors who left your website from a specific page. To put it another way, bounce rate is the percentage of users who visited a page and only that page with no interaction, whereas exit rate is the percentage of users who visited that same page last in their time on your website.
Let’s take a look at an example to clarify. If you’re looking at the analysis of a product page on an e-commerce site the bounce would measure the percentage of visitors who went directly to that product page, didn’t click on anything, and then left. Maybe they entered “yellow sweater womens small” and clicked on the product page as one of the first results. Seeing that size small is sold out, they leave, either by hitting the back button or by closing the browser. Their visit is recorded as a bounce. However, if the visitor started on the homepage or a different product page, perhaps through a different search query, clicked around and explored a bit, visited the product page for the yellow sweater and then left the site or closed the browser because they needed to do something else, their visit would be counted as an exit for the product page.
eCommerce pages with high bounce rates are nearly always cause for concern, but a content page with a high bounce rate might not be so bad. Judging what is a good bounce rate for a content page is a little more difficult because of other factors that can’t be measured by bounce rate alone. If a visitor comes to a content page and leaves without interacting, did they leave because they didn’t like what they saw? Or did they leave because they found exactly what they needed and stopped searching? These are the types of questions a smart analyst might ask when looking at bounce rate.
Remember, bounce rate doesn’t account for scrolling or time spent on the page. That means if someone is researching a topic and finds an article online that answers their question, they may read the article in its entirety, even quote it in their own writing or share it with a friend, but if they don’t click anywhere else on the site, their visit will still be recorded as a bounce.
The same is true for a user who is visiting their favorite cooking blog to look up a favorite recipe. If they only need to remind themselves of what temperature to set the oven, or how long to bake something, they may use a search engine to input the name of the recipe and the name of the blog, go directly to the recipe page, get the information they need and go back to cooking. Even though their user experience is excellent (they were able to find exactly what they needed quickly from a familiar and beloved brand) their visit would still be recorded as a bounce.
Bounce rate does not have a direct effect on Google ranking, however, a high bounce rate can be an indicator of other factors that do affect ranking like page speed, design quality, and mobile optimization. While lowering your bounce rate may not directly improve your ranking on Google and other search engines, but it’s still an important metric for how useful, engaging, and well designed your site is, and, when understood in context, can give you insight into what needs improvement.
A bounce rate around 50% is generally considered average and anything lower should be viewed as a success. As explained above, content sites often have higher bounce rates than eCommerce sites, even for their best-performing pages, so bear that in mind when judging your bounce rate.
If your bounce rate is between 60%-70% you may want to look at other numbers to see how your visitors are arriving at the page and responding to it. Is there something that could be improved to encourage higher engagement rates?
Anything over 70% is definitely a cause for investigation. If only 30% of visitors are moved to interact further with the website, either by entering information, making a purchase, or clicking through to another page, there might be a larger problem.
When analyzing the health of a website overall, it’s worthwhile to take a closer look at the pages with the highest bounce rates. When prioritizing which to look at first, start with the highest rates first, bumping any important pages (like your homepage!) to the top of the stack. Then visit each page to see if there are technical issues that need to be fixed before deciding on other strategies to lower the bounce rate.
There are many strategies to lower your bounce rate, but when choosing the right one to work on first, it can be helpful to imagine yourself in the circumstances of a visitor who bounces from the page. What would make someone leave a page without showing interest in exploring the rest of the site? Once you know why your page is being bounced, you can work to do the opposite to help visitors stay and see all you have to offer.
One of the clearest causes for a bounce is that the page is not working. If a visitor finds a 404, they not only won’t stick around, but they often can’t do so at all. Check for and eliminate these issues first.
Another common reason that visitors will hit the back button or exit out of a page is if it is taking too long to load. The internet is a fast-paced place with user attention spans shrinking every year. Making sure your page loads quickly is key to making sure that visitors say long enough to see what’s there.
Sometimes all you need to do to help your audience interact with a page is give them the opportunity to do so! Are there places you can link the text to other pages? Can you add a comments section and encourage participation? Is it easy to use? Is your recommendation engine showing them other products or pages they might be interested in?
Imagine you’re looking at your page for the first time. Is it pleasant and inviting or harsh and overwhelming? If the colors are too bright, or there’s too much of them, users may click away just to relieve eye pain. A wall of text is similarly off-putting and intimidating. Is the image carousel spinning too fast or is the page overwhelmed with too many images or animations? You want visitors to feel that they’ll be able to navigate your site with ease and comfort in the first split second of seeing your page, so focus on your first impression to keep users engaged.
Most of your visitors will be seeing your website from their mobile devices and if your page isn’t optimized for that format, there’s a much higher chance that visitors will see that they can’t use your site on their phone, and find another site they can utilize instead. Mobile design should be a first priority, not an afterthought.
Another reason visitors may leave quickly is that they are overwhelmed by the number of ads and distractions. No one wants their experience disrupted, especially when they’re reading an article or watching a video they find interesting. Monetization is key to many successful websites, but it’s important to consider the user experience when including ads. Make sure that your ad experience is as thoughtfully designed as the rest of your user experience.
It’s possible that the people finding your page are not your ideal target audience. Are you advertising where your best customers are? Take time to test a few different audience acquisition strategies to see if the people who would be most interested in your offerings are able to find and navigate our page.
Similar to finding the right audience, it’s important to make sure that search engines have access to the most up-to-date and accurate information and descriptions regarding your site. An older piece of metadata may be driving unwanted traffic to your site.
Are your visitors getting what they expect when they arrive at your page? Especially if many are arriving by clicking through on an ad, it’s important to make sure that the page delivers on the user’s expectations.
For example, if the ad features a specific product, but when someone clicks through, they’re taken to your homepage, they may be frustrated at the prospect of having to search for the product that caught their interest initially and chose to leave quickly. If a product is sold out, not only is running an ad for it a waste of money, but you create a bad first impression for new visitors. Make sure that when someone visits your page, you meet their expectations first. (And then exceed them!)
There are lots of strategies to reduce bounce rate, but nearly all of them have to do with improving user experience. By making sure that your pages are working properly, meeting audience expectations, and providing value in the form of content, tools, or products you can provide a user experience that makes users want more, and keeps your bounce rate low. In addition to the strategies above, make sure to create opportunities for interaction whenever possible by utilizing tools like recommendation engines that aid in product discovery, carousels that showcase similar content, and of course, adding stories with Storyly can help you create visually rich, tappable content that encourages interaction and drives click through. Overall, to lower bounce rate make sure to: