Bounce rates are a really important metric for any website.
Let’s start this guide with the bounce rate definition from Wikipedia:
Bounce rate (sometimes confused with exit rate) is an Internet marketing term used in web traffic analysis. It represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and “bounce” (leave the site) rather than continue viewing other pages within the same site.
Bounce rate essentially describes how many people are coming to your site and leaving pretty swiftly.
Whatever your website is, it will have a purpose. That might be getting people to read more content, buy something, sign up to your list or watch a video. Whatever it happens to be you should always be thinking about how you can encourage users to take this action.
Bounce Rate vs Exit Rate.
There’s a subtle but incredibly important difference between these two metrics. Let’s take a look at the definition of exit rate:
Exit rate as a term used in web site traffic analysis (sometimes confused with bounce rate) is the percentage of visitors to a site who actively click away to a different site from a specific page, after possibly having visited any other pages on the site. The visitors just exited on that specific page.
The difference here is that exit rate describes how many people left your site from a specific page.
It doesn’t give you any indication how long the user has been on the site, how many pages they’ve viewed or which actions they’ve taken.
Bounce rate is more important in the first instance as it shows that people are not doing what you want them to do on your site. Exit rate doesn’t necessarily specify that.
Give me an Average Bounce Rate!
Sorry guys – I’m not getting into this can of worms with you.
There are so many things you need to take into account.
- Type of site
- Quality of traffic
- Intended action
- Site quality
- User Journey
What you should look at though is the difference between the average bounce rate on your top 5 performing pages and your worst 5 performing pages.
Looking and the similarities or differences between these pages can help you identify why some pages perform better than others. Get the combination of factors rite and you’ll see a reduction in bounce rate site-wide.
Just to let you in on a little secret – My bounce rate benchmark is 70% for this blog – They’re more than likely coming just to get information, so the bounce rate is likely to be high. My aim though is always to reduce this by providing more relevant pages for them to click through to.
Bounce Rate and SEO
Does your bounce rate affect your SEO, in the crude form of your ranking position?
Probably not …
Google has stated numerous times that it doesn’t use information like this from Google Analytics when ranking web pages.
Of course, there are those in the SEO community that disagree with this. Personally, I’m somewhere in the middle.
We know that Google takes site architecture and user experience really seriously these days. Bounce rate feeds into these two aspects of a website.
Whether you’re using Google Analytics or not, search engines know from their own systems when somebody clicks on a page but leaves instantly afterward and returns to the search page. That’s their cue to think, “Hmm, maybe that page isn’t so good for that query after all…”.
It’s one of those indirect metrics that, while not being a core ranking factor, should be at the forefront of your thinking when you’re considering how to make your site rank more effectively.
What Causes a High Bounce Rate?
There are a number of things that can contribute to a high bounce rate. Some more dramatically than others.
- Site Speed
- Internal Linking
- Call to Action
- Content Quality
- Relevance to Query
A combination of all of these feed into your bounce rates.
Personally, I believe that if you create helpful, relevant content, and follow it up with a call to action of some description, you won’t go far wrong.
Put yourself on the other side of the table.
What would you think if you typed the phrase ‘bounce rate’ into a search engine and found this page? I’m hoping you would be fairly happy and the content would answer your questions.
However, if you typed ‘bouncing balls advert’ into Google and found this page, you’d be really confused and bounce right away from the site.
If you got here and there was just blank HTML text on the page … chances are you would bounce too.
What about if I started firing pop-ups onto the screen as soon as you landed. Let me assure you, while it can be really effective, it’s a huge turn off for some users and, depending on your audience, you might see a big rise in bounce rate.
How Can I Lower my Bounce Rate?
This is an age-old question.
There are lots of best practices you can follow, like:
- Ensure that the page is targeting key phrases relevant to the information the user hopes to find on the page.
- Optimise your site for load times. The faster a page loads, the less likely a user is to bounce due to impatience.
- Use visuals to break up long blocks of text and keep the user engaged.
- Create a clear, logical call to action to ensure that a user knows what the next step in their journey should be.
- Reduce the number of ads or other distractions on the page to funnel your user towards an intended action.
In another of my posts, I gave my readers some quotes on helping increase conversions on landing pages from some of the best in the business too.
Once you’ve got some best practices in place though it’s time to start looking into some A/B tests and Heatmaps to start analyzing what your users are really up to.
Once you’ve got that information, you can start making data-driven decisions on what to change on your page to help keep the user engaged.
There’s lots of great content out there about this process. The Crazy Egg blog is a great place to start.
Bounce rate defines the percentage of your visitors who leave without taking any action.
You want to reduce this figure to increase the number of people you’re converting to customers/subscribers/members etc.
Bounce rate isn’t an SEO ranking factor, but it does tell search engines something about your user experience.
Plus it’s always going to be one of the most important things to decrease if you want to increase your conversion rate.
Are you having problems with the bounce rate on your site?
Have you got a killer tip to help reduce bounce rate?
Tweet Me or let me know in the comments!