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Bounce Rate Explained

by Mike Amis

Bounce Rate Explained

Bounce Rate

What is it? Why is it important? How do I improve it?

Bounce Rate (as defined by Google) is the percentage of single-page sessions (i.e. sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).

It is calculated using the following expression:

Bounce rate calculation

Where:

Rb = Bounce Rate

Tv = Total single page visits

Te = Total entries to the page

In more simple terms, does your website make people want to hang around and discover more content, or do they just bounce right off somewhere else?

Bounce rate is widely regarded as one of the key metrics for measuring the effectiveness or quality of a webpage. In general, a high bounce rate is considered a bad thing as it can be an indicator of a poor quality web page. There are exceptions to this, for instance, single page websites. Clearly in this instance visitors will always leave the site from the entrance page. Another example is if a user has bookmarked a page on your site for future reference, visits it and leaves, this is classed as a bounce.

The reason bounce rate is relevant is that it suggests that a visitor did not find the information they were expecting, or they had a poor user experience.

Reasons for a high bounce rate

  • Pop ups and landing page messages – these devices block people from accessing the information they came for.
  • Slow page load speed – Many people will abandon a website if it takes 3 seconds or more to load
  • Autoplay music and video – Can conflict with other sounds playing and cause an interruption to browsing.
  • Poor landing page design – Visually unappealing or poorly organised pages will cause people to leave.
  • External links – External links on landing pages make it easy for visitors to leave.
  • Poorly targeted key words or adverts – Pages where content is not relevant to the advert or keywords that brought the visitor to the page will have a high bounce rate.
  • Incorrectly implemented tracking code – Ensure tracking code is added to all pages correctly.

Improving your bounce rate

What is considered to be an acceptable bounce rate varies greatly depending on the type of website and by industry. A portal website such as Yahoo or MSN could expect to see a bounce rate as low as 10-20%. For an eCommerce website with good quality traffic a bounce rate in the range of 20-40% would be normal and a simple landing page with a single call to action might see a bounce rate as high as 70-90%.

If you have a high bounce rate the reasons will be specific to the design, content and marketing strategy of your website, so there is no one size fits all solution. There are however a number of general tips to help reduce your bounce rate.

  • Provide well written relevant content
  • Ensure your website loads quickly
  • Have an attractive landing page with a well-structured layout
  • Remove pop up advertising
  • Provide search functionality (if appropriate)
  • Logical, intuitive navigation
  • Correctly implemented tracking code
  • Ensure adverts and keywords accurately reflect the page content

Before implementing changes to your site in an attempt to reduce bounce rate it is important to analyse your tracking data thoroughly. Look at data for individual landing pages rather than site wide data which can fluctuate greatly due to a number of factors. Evaluate the success of your changes against your own previous data and always ensure you leave enough time to gather enough data to measure the impact of the changes.

An extremely effective way to measure the success of changes to your website whilst at the same time minimizing the risk of having a negative impact, is to use content experiments, which will be the subject of a future blog post.

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