One of the more commonly referenced website analytics terms is “bounce rate.” What is bounce rate? What does it mean? Is it an important metric to monitor? Let’s start with defining what a bounce is. A bounce occurs when someone visits your website, views a single page, and leaves. In this scenario a website tracking tool like Google Analytics, would report one bounce or a 100 percent bounce rate (depending on which type of report you run/view).
What Bounce Rate Tells You
Watch the first few minutes of this video:
In the video above, web analytics “guru,” Avinash Kaushik, defines a bounce as, “I came; I puked, and I left.” The implication is that high bounce rates are bad – that the content on your site didn’t match what the visitor was looking for so they left without viewing another page. It’s probably happened to you – it happens to everyone. A friend emails you a link to a website and tells you to check it out, you visit the page, don’t see anything they like and leave. That would be a 100 percent bounce. Maybe you search for something on Google – ex. “best local plumbing company in Denver”, you click the top result, realize your on Service Magic’s website (when you wanted to contact a local plumber directly), so you leave to try again.
A high bounce rate can be a sign that your content is not targeted to the visitors wants and needs, but a high bounce rate can also be a positive indicator. Which it is depends on the answer to this question, “can you get value out of a single page visit?”
Think about this for a moment…
Most types of web leads – a white paper download, registration for a webinar, email newsletter sign up, web form submission, etc. – require the visitor to view multiple pages (resulting in a zero percent bounce rate). If these (multi-page visits) are the only ways your business generates leads, Avinash is correct, a high bounce rate is bad. However, what about businesses that get leads via phone?
Let’s say you own a plumbing and hvac company in Arvada, CO. Someone searches Google for “furnace replacement Denver CO”, finds and clicks the furnace replacement page on your website, they pick up the phone and call you to see how quickly you can get to their house. As soon as they book the appointment, they close their laptop and get on with the rest of their day. How would Google Analytics report this visit? You guessed it – as one bounce (or a 100 percent bounce rate – depending on the report you view).
If this were your business, would this scenario be considered positive or negative? Positive, of course – you’d take single page visits all day long! So, you need to consider a few other metrics before making a determination as to whether a high bounce rate is bad or good.
Using Bounce Rate Data to Improve Your Site
Here’s a simple way to use bounce rate data in Google Analytics to improve your website:
Go into Google Analytics and look at the left-side navigation menu
Use the Advanced Filter to remove (not set), (not provided), and branded keywords
Sort the table by Bounce Rate descending (click on the column heading)
From this process, you should see a whole bunch of visits that look like this:
What you’re looking at in the screenshot above is a page from a local Electrical contractor in Baltimore, MD. Someone searched, “3 phase digital ampere meter” and the ranked page in the organic search results was the electrical company’s homepage. Now, there’s nothing about “3 phase digital ampere meter” on this company’s homepage, so the visitor “bounced.”
IF this is a valuable search phrase for the company in this example (it’s not, but let’s pretend it might be), they’d be wise to either a) create a new web page specific to this keyword OR b) add something to their homepage about this keyword – like a highly visible call-to-action (CTA) button.