Understanding Bounce Rate

We work with all kinds of local business at ThriveFuel. From auto dealers and retail to health care providers and community organizations. You can imagine, when you work with all of these kinds of organizations the leaders that are charged with handling their marketing initiatives have varying goals and levels of understanding when it comes to marketing. This is particularly true when it comes to digital marketing. After all, most business leaders are struggling to find enough time to actually run and grow their business, let alone worry about marketing and the nuances of digital marketing.

However, one particular metric that seems to be the most confounding to businesses of all sizes and sophistication is Bounce Rate.
To understand Bounce Rate it’s important to understand other key metrics within Google Analytics, so I’ll summarize here. Now keep in mind, in order to gain any insight into these metrics you must have Google Analytics installed and configured correctly on your website.

  • Users: A few years ago Google changed the way it reported user data by changing the term “Unique Visitors” to “Users.” This is Google’s best approximation of how many people are accessing your site over a period of time. While this data isn’t perfect it’s getting more accurate all of the time and Google is getting better at tracking users across multiple devices.
  • Sessions: In another change, “Visits” became “Sessions.” Each time a User visits a website Google records that visit as a Session. Regardless of the device, Google records each and every session, the platform and the behavior of the user while on the site (and sometimes after they leave the site, but that’s for another column!)
  • Session Duration: This is the amount of time a user spends during visit. Google tracks individual sessions, their durations and then reports an average.

Now, about Bounce Rate. Bounce Rate is the percentage of Sessions that a User visits a single page. For instance, if 10 Users visit a website and half of those visitors only visit 1 page then the bounce rate for that segment of Users would be 50%. The question we get asked fairly often is “is this bounce rate good?” Generally, the answer is “it depends.” The fact of the matter is that there is no one bounce rate percentage that is “good” or even average. Here’s why:

Websites with engaging yet ever changing content can experience radically fluctuating bounce rates. Some days they may be at 70% while other times they may be 30%. For instance, if a retailer publishes a blog or other unique content to their site then users may visit that page and then leave. In fact, if a particular product, offer or other page on your site is very popular and gets shared on social media you’re likely to experience a higher bounce rate site wide. This is because users coming to your site through Facebook or Twitter are more likely to be interested in a single piece of content and then they move on. About 70% of social media sessions are mobile which also adds to the likelihood of a higher bounce rate. Users on mobile devices tend to visit fewer pages per session overall.

Several other factors can increase or reduce bounce rate as well.

  • Advertising Campaigns: Advertising campaigns, even when executed by a professional digital agency can actually increase bounce rate. This is because users that click on a particular offer or ad unit aren’t interested in navigating your entire website. They are clicking on your offer to either get more information, get your phone number or get the address of your store. In this instance the more efficient your site the higher your bounce rate.
  • Poorly Designed Sites: Websites that are poorly designed and are difficult to navigate can actually have lower bounce rates than much better, well designed sites. This is a conundrum, as users aren’t getting a quality user experience yet a low bounce rate can be seen as a good thing even though your users are frustrated because they can’t find what they need and are fumbling through your site.
  • Efficiently Designed Sites: You can probably guess that a very well designed site that gets useful information in front of consumers quickly can have a high bounce rate. Combine this type of site with a targeted, efficient advertising campaign and you will likely see an increase in bounce rate.

So how do you, as the marketer interpret your bounce rate? First, it’s important to get a baseline for your site and understand what metrics are “normal” for you. What are users looking at? Where are they coming from and why are leaving?

Do you need help interpreting your Google Analytics? Contact us now for a free consultation.

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