Bounce Rate: A Comprehensive Guide 2018
Comprehensive Guide about Bounce Rate in Google Analytics
Bounce rate does not have a clear understanding to many in SEO.
This guide will not only answer “what is bounce rate”. But also throw light on the confusing questions like “what is a god bounce rate”. And the million dollar question “how to reduce bounce rate”.
What does Bounce Rate mean?
As per Google Analytics
“A Bounce is a single-page session on your website.”
Therefore, a Bounce Rate is a calculation of a single-page sessions divided by all the sessions on your website.
Furthermore, in a simplified jargon it can be explained as;
The no. of visits to a landing page by a user without any further browsing.
That means if you have succeeded in attracting traffic to your landing page. But the content is not powerful enough or simply if the visitor gets bored. Then the visitor will leave your website without further browsing.
…ouch! There goes your bounce rate up.
And friends…it isn’t a good sign generally.
How is Bounce Rate calculated?
Bounce rate can be calculated of the website or of an individual web page as per the need.
Google Analytics calculates:
The Bounce Rate of a Website by dividing the total number of bounces on all the pages in a given time by the total number of entrances on all pages in the same given time.
The Bounce Rate of a Web Page by dividing the total number of bounces on a page in a given time by the total number of entrances on that same page in the same given time.
In the above calculations the Bounces refer to the number of single-page visits on a page. And Entrances are the number of times a visitor entered your website through that particular page.
Does Bounce Rate indicate the time spent on the website?
From the calculations above it is very clearly evident that…
“…the bounce rate on a website has nothing to do with the time spent on the website.”
It is just a misbelief that people have about bounce rate SEO.
It is a very strong benchmark to track the quality of the traffic that is directed to your landing page or homepage.
If the bounce rate is high, then that means your site’s entrance pages are either boring or not relevant to the visitors.
And this is an alarming sign.
…the ultimate purpose of a website is conversion. But if your landing page is not able to hook your visitors then sales, conversions or leads are absolutely out of question.
What is a good bounce rate?
Unlike the expectations of getting an exact calculated answer, the accuracy of an ideal bounce rate depends on the intent, industry and design of your website.
High bounce rate is not a bad thing always.
Well it’s shocking but true. It isn’t always bad if your website has a high bounce rate.
If the highest number of visitors on your website are on the “homepage” of your site. And your homepage also opens door to other significant pages like services, products etc. Then it is recommended to maintain a low bounce rate on your homepage for more conversions.
…Your landing page is a contact-page, or a blog or an affiliate landing page or any other single-page content where the visitor’s motive to visit your page is achieved right there. Then a high bounce rate is absolutely normal.
According to a study by RocketFuel, the most average bounce rates varies between 26% and 70% for most websites.
And based on the statistics gathered by them, they created an assorted range of bounce rates.
- 25% or lower: Something is probably broken
- 26-40%: Excellent
- 41-55%: Average
- 56-70%: Higher than normal, but could make sense depending on the website
- 70% or higher: Bad and/or something is probably broken
Neil Patel from Kissmetrics has segregated the average bounce rate percentage as per the industry.
As per which average bounce rate percentage for:
- Retails Sites with targeted traffic – 20%-40%
- Landing Pages with just one CTA like “buy now” – 70%-90%
- Portals like MSN, Yahoo – 10%-30%
- FAQ sites – 10%-30%
- Content sites with high visibility for irrelevant terms – 40%-60%
- Lead Generation services for sales purpose – 30%-50%
So it’s evident from the above that a high bounce rate is not always bad.
Bounce Rate vs Exit Rate
Exit rate is the percentage of exits from a web page. It means that a user may not have necessarily landed on that page. But has browsed his way through the site on that page. And has made an exit from the website from that page.
Exits may have viewed more than one page in a session.
Bounce rate is the percentage of users who entered on the site through a landing page, but left without browsing any further on the site.
Bounce rate is always a single-page session.
Reasons of high Bounce Rate
If your website should not have a high bounce rate, considering the above data. Then checkout for these factors for increasing your website’s bounce rate.
#1. Too many disturbing Pop-up ads
Pop-ups can be great if timed properly.
But a study has shown that visitors leave the site if they have an unpleasant experience of too many pop-ups. Pop-ups can stimulate your sales, or add great number of subscribers to your email list.
…if the pop-up comes just as you entered the site then this can be really annoying.
And can cost you with high bounce rate.
#2. Design that hurts the visitor’s eye
Designing a website is not all about the use of colors.
Instead it is about balancing the colors, readability and navigational architecture in the website.
Some leading designers have mentioned and agreed to this by saying that…
…A great design looks appealing even with Black and White colors.
More importantly, do not just overload your website with colors to make it attractive.
It will be a complete waste if your site’s visitors aren’t able to click on the call-to-action button. Or if they are not able to navigate to the page of their interest.
So, it’s better to keep it simple rather than destroying the website with overdoing of colors, flash and other distracting elements.
Redesign your website if you think that any of the above element matches with your current website.
#3. “What you do” is hidden
What’s the point of having a website if it does not clearly speaks about…
- What are your services or products
- Any new offer
- Or any other information noteworthy
The services or the main information about your website should be “Loud and Clear”.
Don’t make your visitors hop on to find out what your website is all about. Because in this case they’d rather jump on to another site. Instead of locating the information of their interest on your website.
#4. Auto playing Videos
Nobody likes the sudden sound of a video playing on its own when they are scrolling a website.
This is so true.
It is annoying, really annoying. Please stop it right away.
Videos are important for your website. We understand and recommend using them on your website.
…do not set them on an auto-playing mode. Ask for the users consent before playing the video.
Or else, the user will immediately hit the back button and you will have another increase in your website’s bounce rate.
Also, keep a check on the length of the video. Because it has been noticed that if the video is played for long. Then are very high chances of the user stopping the video in between and harming your user retention.
#5. Page Speed
If your website does not load fast then definitely your visitors are going to hop on to other website in no time.
Time is money.
And if your site’s visitors feel they are not investing their time (money) in the right place, obviously they will find someone else.
Keep a check on your site’s loading speed through Google Webmaster Tools. And try to get the loading time in as low as 2 seconds for better user experience.
#6. Non-functional Google Analytics Setup
If you have not set up the Google Analytics properly and not added tracking code to all the pages on your site then it’s going to adversely affect your bounce rate.
You can learn about the right way to set up Google Analytics by this guide from Google.
#7. Low quality Content
By low quality we are targeting two problematic areas in content:
- Bad content (words)
- Good content but not optimized for reading
Both the factors are equally responsible for high bounce rate. Writing for a website is very different from writing for a book.
It cannot be plain.
You have to break the content with images or headings to keep the visitors hooked to your website. And intrigue them to read more from the web pages.
#8. Empty Page or Error in loading
If you notice a strange behavior in your site’s crawling that the visitors are on your website for just a few seconds.
Then it’s quite possible they have hit an empty page or a page with 404 error or a page which was not able to load properly.
#9. Misleading Meta Tags
You can fool the user by adding misleading meta title and description. But once they visit your page and notice this is not what they want.
Then they will immediately bounce back.
#6. Non-responsive design
A mobile friendly website is the need of the hour.
Because we all will agree to the fact that most of the users visit a website from their smartphones or tablets. What if your site isn’t as good on mobile, as it is on desktop?
You will lose potential clients.
Open your website on a mobile device and see if there is anything to worry about.
If you are already thinking about website redesigning then now is the time to make your website responsive too.
#11. Backlinking from a low-quality and irrelevant site
Lastly, if you have tried everything but still getting a high bounce rate.
Then this can be due to…
…the backlink you are getting from a low quality and irrelevant site.
This is because the referring site will be directing similar low quality visitors to your site. Or the anchor text in the referring site could be misleading.
How to lower Bounce Rate?
Now that we the possible reasons for a high bounce rate. Let’s see what should be done to decrease the bounce rate of a website.
#1. Analyze if the bounce is actually a bounce.
Not all bounces on the website can be considered as a bounce.
Let me explain.
If a visitor visits a news or a blog website. Then the aim of the visitor will be to read the news and exit.
But the Google Analytics will consider this as a bounce. Since the visitor made the exit from a single-page visit. Ideally this isn’t a bounce exactly because the purpose of the visitor is achieved in the single page. Then why would he browse any further.
Unfortunately Google Analytics will show 100% bounce rate for this scenario.
“that when a visitor converts on your website (by hitting the CTA), then it should not be counted as a bounce”
Because the prime aim of a website is to get conversions and sales, not to optimize the bounce rate. Right?
This is why it is important to adjust the bounce rate for your website so that it does not show the uncalculated rate of bounce.
You can start by;
“analyzing the time spent on the web page”
This way you can get the actual bounce rate.
#2. Do not encourage low-quality traffic
If you are getting low-quality or irrelevant traffic which has nothing to do with your service or product. Then it is obvious they visitors will leave your website as soon as they find out it’s of no use to them.
And hence it will increase your bounce rate.
Better find out and stop the source of the low-quality traffic and remove toxic backlinks to your website.
Set up a new marketing strategy and build links with only the targeted keywords or landing pages to bring the bounce rate down.
#3. Keep the promise you made to the visitors
If you break the trust of the visitors, they are going to bounce back for sure.
To further explain:
If your landing page has a little something for you which says “download the free SEO guide”.
…on clicking that link it takes you to the contact page instead of the free download. Then definitely the visitor will feel cheated and will bounce back.
Never ever do this.
Do not fool the users. If you promise anything on your landing page then fulfill it. Keep in mind that your landing page’s call-to-action should be relevant and genuine.
#4. Strategize your landing page smartly
The users most probable won’t have the whole time in the universe to go through your landing page.
For this reason it is advised to place the content on the landing page smartly. Such that it covers all the information.
But at the same time doesn’t take much of the visitor’s important time.
#5. Track Flash based content with Virtual Pageviews
If your landing page is based out of Ajax or Flash then a lot of user activity like downloading, clicking on a link, viewing a video, logins etc. will be happening on a single page.
So there will be no need for the visitor to scroll any further.
Therefore an increase in the bounce rate for that page/website.
In this case the bounce rate will be 100%. Unless it is tracked by virtual pageviews or event tracking.
#6 Landing Page should be Perfect
Yes. It has to be perfect if you want a lower bounce rate.
“As per a study a user decides in less than 8 seconds whether or not he wants to stick to that website.”
The following Do’s are necessary for your landing page design.
- Fast page load speed
- Easy navigation
- Responsive website
- High quality content
- Content should be readable
- Formatting (bold, italics, heading, paragraphs etc) should be in place
- Avoid auto-paying video and auto-downloading links
- Use clean background colors
- The colors on website should be attractive, but not very loud
- Pop-up ads should be timed properly
- The “next step” should be clear
- CTA or call-to-action should be properly placed
- Do not ask for unnecessary information from users
- Purpose of the page should be very clear
#7. Grow a need in the users to browse further
Yes we have agreed earlier in this post that pages like news or blog are likely to have high bounce rate.
But this is not necessary.
You can turn the wheels to your benefit here also.
Intrigue the users to browse further on your website to get more interesting information.
To elaborate further with example:
If a website is about a technical blog, and the user has landed to the information of his choice. Then just when the post ends treat him with more similar posts links which may be of interest to the user.
This way you have reduced the bounce rate and also supplied more useful information to the user.
Hence, a win-win situation for both.
#8. Know it from the horse’s mouth
If you feel you have done everything and still you are not able to identify what’s the problem. Then it’s better to play ball by ball. That is examine each landing page individually.
One of the way to do is by fixing a thumbs-up and a thumb-down button in the end of a landing page with no log-in required.
Now if the thumbs-down are more than the thumbs-ups, then you know it right that the quality of content in not matching the standard. I mean what’s the point if the users are not loving it.
So improve the content quality on your landing page and reduce the bounce rate.
A high Bounce rate is not always bad. But you need to be wise enough to calculate and analyze if the bounce rate of your landing page is good or not.
We have covered the reasons and the ways to tackle the bounce rate factors which may affect the conversion ratio of your website.