A Detailed Guide on Bounce Rate: What You Need to Know About This Metric

If you happened to own a website, you might be familiar with some SEO basics. These basics include different SEO elements, strategies, and metrics.

SEO metrics vary. All these metrics have a single purpose – to show how your website ranks on Google compared to your competitors. 

One of the metrics that stirs up a dispute is called bounce rate. 

This metric shows the number of visitors that leave any of the pages on your site without interaction. As a rule, it happens when people don’t comment and don’t navigate on your website further. 

What’s more important, bounce rate helps estimate user engagement. 

In this post, you will find out about bounce rate in more detail. 

Shall we begin?

Is Bounce Rate as Important as It Seems

Since bounce rate works as an indicator of user engagement, you should take this metric seriously. Furthermore, bounce rate can help you understand if your website has any issues with a tracking setup. 

But is bounce rate so critically important in terms of business?

If you think about the priority of your business, it will be ROI. And from this standpoint, you shouldn’t take into account bounce rate value too seriously. 

Let’s say you have run a few separate campaigns. For instance, you aim to attract leads who would download your newly published designed eBook. These campaigns have different bounce rate stats. Bounce rate of a couple of campaigns is pretty impressive. But you realized that the number of conversions leaves much to be desired. 

This is a widely-known practice when bounce rate has nothing to do when we are talking about conversions

Likely, bounce rate clearly shows user engagement on your website.

How Google Calculates Bounce Rate

When you have just launched your website, the first thing that you will have to do is to set up Google Analytics. Thus, Google Analytics will be processing your site and provides you with analytical stats. 

But for having this data every page on your website must have a tracking ID in the code. This very code controls the sessions on the site. 

It works simply – when a user leaves the website, the session expires. In this case, such a visit is classified as a “bounce.” However, if the user decides to continue the journey on your website, the status “bounced” will be canceled. 

Despite the fact, the code can expire because of other third-party reasons. Let’s review the most common ones:

  • The pages on your website loading slowly (nobody likes when the page loads too slow and leave it)
  • Ad blockers (ad blockers prevent the code from firing. Consequently, the visitors of your site won’t be tracked)
  • Session timeouts (sometimes the session may expire even if the users still want to interact with the site)

Pay attention to these reasons and make sure you know why bounces happen. 

Don’t Be Confused With Bounce Rate, Dwell Time, Exit Rate Metrics

Not tech-savvy people tend to confuse the following metrics – bounce rate, dwell time, and exit rate. Fortunately, there is nothing difficult in understanding them in practice. 

First of all, let’s see the connection between both dwell time and exit rate with bounce rate

When we are talking about the percentage of sessions that end on some page, it is called “exit rate.”

Source

To give you a better understanding of this metric, let’s review the example. For instance, three people visited the website. Three sessions have started. The first page where the sessions started is “A” – 33% of bounce rate. “B” and “C” pages have bounce rate of 0% since all sessions had started on page “A” before. Finally, exit rate will be the following:

  • “A” with 33% where only one user left the site from this page
  • “B” with 100% where two users left the site from this page
  • “C” with 0% where nobody left the website from this page

Now you can see how exit rate works in tandem with bounce rate. 

What about dwell time?

Dwell time stands for the time between the user clicks the link of the page on the search and returns to the SERP again. Unfortunately, Google Analytics doesn’t track this metric. So, you won’t be able to find it there. 

Nevertheless, you can be sure for one hundred percent that Google takes this metric into account as one of the ranking factors. 

The Ways of How You Can Use Bounce Rate 

Google Analytics is a complex system that handles data for your website in one place. It suggests lots of reports and metrics to observe. Therefore, if you don’t know what you need to explore and what filters to apply, you won’t be able to understand the data. 

It might take days and weeks before you understand Google Analytics functionality. Likely, if you don’t want to wait you can hire a freelancer who would be tech-savvy on this term. 

But let’s get back to bounce rate metric. 

There is no sense in comparing bounce rate across different pages to see the level of engagement. The metric is aggregated across all campaigns you run and pages. 

Instead, you should focus on analyzing pages separately. In other words, try to specify and include a landing page dimension within the report and choose the channel to analyze.

Check out a step-by-step instruction:

1) Click on “Landing Pages” report (Behaviour –> Site Content –> Landing Pages)

2) Change “All Users” to “Organic Traffic” segment

Afterwards, you should narrow down the results by excluding statistically insignificant pages in “Landing Page” dimension. Lastly, you need the product page with your target keyword (in this case “infographic”) in the URL + exclude pages with >100 sessions.

Now, you got the report that illustrates extensive bounce rate stats.

However!

Don’t make any conclusions about bounce rate based on analysis of the most popular pages on the site. Instead, pay attention to the median bounce rate stats.  

At the same time, there are cases when the page might have a higher bounce rate compared to a medium rate. Let’s review some of them:

1) The page might lack a better UX

2) This very page is the one where people bounce naturally (for example, your “contact” page)

3) Meta description along with title tag vary from content on the page

The last point can be fixed right off the bat. If you see that there is no correlation between content on the page with its meta/title description, you should update it immediately. Plus, don’t shy away from analyzing your content in general. Maybe you should repurpose it to make more engagement. 

By the way, according to Google Search statistics, video content is a great form of content for storytelling and improving user experience. 

“Good” and “Bad” Bounce Rate

There is no such notion as a “good” bounce rate. This metric fully depends on what stage of the customer journey the user is. 

The customer journey goes through the sales funnel with all the stages involved. You can’t predict the behavior of users and guess whether they bounce or not. But if you use sales funnel software, user behavior would be much more under your control. 

Considering this fact, bounce rate might be different across the pages and the traffic sources. So, don’t take it with a pinch of salt. 

Let’s review the example taken from the homepage of Google Merchandise Store.

As you can see, bounce rate ranges between 35% and 85% across these pages. 

In what cases bounce rate can be taken as “bad”?

Bounce rate can’t be “bad” either. It can be “wrong” due to its inaccuracy. Eventually, it may be high or low. To identify the reasons behind that, you should check if the tracking code setup is ok.

Other than that, here are the issues that might affect bounce rate stats:

  • Wrong setup of Events in Google Analytics
  • Tracking code is duplicated
  • Pageviews don’t fire on JavaScript websites

If you happened to spot one of these issues, you must fix it ASAP. 

Tips on Improving Bounce Rate

You can’t improve bounce rate technically. Likely, you can work on improving user engagement of your website. Therefore, it affects bounce rate positively. 

Let’s skim through the following tips that will help you improve the user engagement of the site.

  • Meet your target audience’s needs

Why do people leave the website or some particular page?

Because they can’t find the information they want. Especially, if the meta description doesn’t go in line with the content on the page. It upsets the users and they bounce without a shadow of a doubt. 

You must take care of providing people with what they want to see on your site. Avoid creating blog posts with the following structure:

1) Standard introduction

2) A couple of sections with some third-party facts or data

3) Finally, tips the users want to read about

People won’t be able to find what they need without reviewing the entire post. As a result, they bounce. 

The best decision would be to use the inverted pyramid method.

Source

Thus, you will provide the main points of your content in the first place. 

  • Don’t write super-comprehensive posts

Funny things but people might bounce because they can’t read your content easily. To solve this problem you should avoid using complex sentences and less=known terms. Write just like Hemingway.

  • Don’t forget about mobile optimization of the site

Nowadays people visit websites with their smartphones. Is your website mobile-friendly?

If not, you should optimize it promptly. Make sure it has intuitive navigation, optimized size of images, and site speed. 

To optimize site speed you should do the following:

1) Use the best hosting

2) Have the best DNS provider

3) Pick up the best CDN (if your website operates across the globe)

4) Use compression algorithms like gzip or Brotli

5) Upload the scripts using async or defer attributes

6) Use the combination of HTTP + HTTP/2 with server push, optimized resources prioritization, and TLS 1.3

  • Do internal linking

Internal linking is a wonderful way to build a connection between the pages on your site. Just add the links to other topic-related pieces of content (landing pages) within the posts and help the users to navigate the website. Plus, it is a good practice for SEO. 

  • Reduce the number of pop-ups and ads

You won’t deny that it is pretty irritating when you visit the website using a mobile device and the only thing that you can see is pop-ups or ads on the screen. 

To make this aspect of UX less distractive, you can make pop-ups shown after people complete some specific action on the page. It could be scrolling down the page or waiting for a few seconds. 

Use these tips and the level of user engagement will boost drastically. 

To Sum Up

Bounce rate is an important metric for tracking user engagement. But it has nothing to do with other SEO metrics. Moreover, it doesn’t have a direct impact either on SEO performance, or marketing activities. 

You shouldn’t bother about this too much. 

Keep in mind, if the user experience of your website is awesome, bounce rate stats will never disappoint you. 

Author’s bio: Sergey Aliokhin is a Community Outreach Manager at Visme. When not at work, he likes to spend his time with family, read books on science-fiction, practice playing the bass, and visit the gym.

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