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Why Is Bounce Rate Important?

You’ve probably heard the term bounce rate discussed before, whether by your marketing or IT teams or just in general conversation. You know the word, you know it’s an important marketing metric that cannot be understated, but what does it actually mean? And why is bounce rate important?

On the surface, this key term may seem to convey a simple message. However, understanding its true implications requires a deeper understanding of how marketers interpret the results. So how do you utilise this metric to fully maximise your digital marketing efforts?

Good news! You’ve come to the right place. Read on for our full audit on bounce rate and how to use it to maximise your results.

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What is Bounce Rate?

According to Google Analytics, bounce rate measures the percentage of single interaction visits to your website. Simply put, any time a visitor leaves your website from the same page they entered, without viewing any other pages or clicking, that’s a bounce. This also includes visitors who remained on the page until the session timed out. Therefore, the bounce rate shows the percentage of visitors who simply ‘bounced’ off your website. Visitors can bounce from your website by clicking on an external link to another website, clicking the ‘Back’ button to leave the site, closing an open window or tab, typing a new URL or if the session times out.

How do visitors get recorded as a bounce?

Google Analytics considers a visitor to have ‘interacted’ with the website if they visit at least one additional page during their visit.

How is Bounce Rate Calculated?

Calculating your bounce rate can be performed by dividing the number of one-page-only visits, by the total number of entries to the website. If there were 500 visitors to your website on a specific day, and 250 visitors left without triggering any further interaction, the bounce rate on that specific day would equate to 50%. Therefore, it is a percentage of the total website visits during a specified period. The mathematical equation is written as follows:

Rb = (Tv/Te)

Google Analytics provides your overall site-wide bounce rate, but you can use this calculation to measure and track bounce rate for specific pages. Understanding this concept is critical for optimising certain pages on your website and analysing user engagement.

Why is it Important to Understand Bounce Rate?

users bouncing off a site

Bounce rates hold significant importance to the overall quality of your website and goal completions:

  • A visitor who bounces from your website will not convert. Therefore, reducing the likelihood of someone bouncing off your website will help to increase possible conversions.
  • Bounce rate may also be used as an important Google Ranking Factor. Although there are various opinions on this, your SEO efforts should take bounce rate into consideration for optimal first page google rankings. (However, there are exceptions to this that we will discuss later).
  • Bounce rate is a measure of visit quality. Therefore, this metric may help you to determine whether your website (or specific page within), has issues with content relevance, user experience, page layout or copywriting.

Ultimately bounce rate may indicate to you that various elements need enhancing or further analysis. However, we use the word may, as there are other important factors when interpreting bounce rate and you shouldn’t use this metric solely to judge the success of your website. For example, the purpose of your website, the type of business and/or industry and marketing channels are other factors that need to be determined in conjunction with bounce rate to provide a holistic picture of your website.

Why do Users Bounce?

Common reasons that may cause users to bounce can vary from slow page loading to low quality content. If visitors are struggling to engage with your website, they will most likely bounce. Ensuring that you constantly optimise will reduce your website bounce rate and improve user experience. Here are some common causes of user bounce:

Slow to Load Pages

Fast loading site pages are crucial for website traffic. Users are highly time sensitive and want facts fast. Therefore, if your page takes longer than a few seconds to load, users will be likely to bounce. In fact, evidence shows that if a page takes longer than 3 seconds to load, users are much more likely to bounce. Site speed is part of Google’s ranking algorithm so it is crucial for your SEO. Slow loading pages is recognised by Google as a factor contributing to poor user experience, thus, Google will take into consideration and may promote content that provides a positive experience.

Low Quality Content

Poorly written content, lack of headings and sub-headings or unengaging images may all cause visitors to bounce. Optimising content for online users is critical as the more engaged users are, the more likely they will spend time navigating your website – which generally increases your conversion rates.

Misleading Title Tag/Meta Description

It is important that the contents of your landing page do not fall short of your title tag and meta description (these appear in the Google Search results). Summarising this accurately will help to ensure visitors do not enter your site thinking your content will provide one thing, only to find it is not what they expected. This will most likely cause the user to bounce back to where they came from.

Error pages/ Technical Error

Error pages tend to result in an exceptionally high bounce rate as there really is no reason for a visitor to stay. You should always replicate the experience of your audience to determine what they see on all browser configurations, that is desktop and mobile, Chrome, Safari, Firefox etc. If it is an issue that may take a little longer to fix, try offering a fun message and guide users to relevant content.

Content Expectations Aren’t Met

If you’re finding you’ve got a high bounce rate, you may need to consider that your content is not meeting your audiences’ expectations, or that you possibly don’t even have the right audience. If what your user expects from your website is not the content they receive upon entry, a content audit can determine if you’re portraying the right message. If you determine your content is right, you may be reaching the wrong audience for your message / content.

Bounce Rate vs Exit Rate

bounce rate vs exit rate

Whilst bounce rate and exit rate are two totally different metrics, they can be easily confused. To explain the difference in meaning, bounce rate will measure the percentage of single-engagement sessions, while exit rate measures the percentage of exits on a page, even if they did not originally land on that page.

Exit rate looks at individual pages, showing the number of people who exit your website after landing on that page and comparing it to the total number of views the page received. This means that exit rates are recorded regardless of a user’s prior activity on the website, whereas bounces are only recorded if a user exits directly from the page they entered. Therefore, all bounces are exits but not all exists are bounces.

Both metrics are important to understand and distinguish. A bounce may indicate a lack of interest in a website or page, whereas a high exit rate could indicate a problem with conversion rate optimisation.

How to interpret Bounce Rate?

Your site’s bounce rate and whether it should spark the need for concern depends on a few factors. Interpreting bounce rate offers marketers valuable insight into your website, both good and/or bad. Let’s look at some important points of discussion to help understand how to interpret bounce rate.

Bounce Rate Benchmarks by Industry

Bounce rate benchmarks will differ depending on your industry. There is no single metric applicable for all websites that will define the optimal target. The intention of a visitor to a blog page or news site is entirely different to those visiting an e-commerce site. As you would expect, visitors to an e-commerce site will typically click onto various items before buying or leaving. Analysing your industry’s benchmark will help you target an ideal bounce rate in line with your competitors. Here are the latest average bounce rate benchmarks by industry.

data on average bounce rate benchmarks for industryImage via SimilarWeb

Bounce Rate Benchmarks by Marketing Channel

Like industry benchmarks, average bounce rates per marketing channel should also be considered when analysing the metric. Average bounce rates are significantly affected by the channel visitors use to arrive at your website. In some cases, overall industry benchmarks may not provide enough certainty, especially if you want to analyse the return on investment of ad campaigns or understand the quality of your leads. It may not be a question of whether your site needs optimising to lower bounce rates but rather a problem regarding the placement of your ads. Based on the graph below, display ads have a significantly higher average bounce rate compared to direct marketing sources. Analysing the average bounce rate per marketing channel will give you an overall evaluation of where exactly you should pinpoint your improvement efforts.

Data on average bounce rate benchmarks by marketing channelImage via SimilarWeb

We must also take into account that these bounce rates are for the “Top 100” websites worldwide, per category, so we would expect their bounce rates to be much lower than for websites of smaller companies.

Bounce Rate by Device

Another important variable to consider when interpreting your bounce rate metric is the device. Your target audience will access your website using either desktop, tablet or mobile. As a result, it is important to understand that user intent and usability will vary significantly between these two traffic sources and this will have an effect on bounce rate. For example, typically a bounce rate will be lower for desktop devices compared to mobile devices. Thus, consider whether your audience is using a mobile or desktop and determine the relative benchmark.

So, what is a good bounce rate for you? A good bounce rate and a bad bounce rate are relative terms whose definitions can change according to different criteria outlined above. Start by analysing the above factors and determine your bounce rate benchmark based on your results. To reiterate, the success of your website and its bounce rate depends on more than just the bounce rate number. However, benchmarking your website can give you a great target to aim for by optimising your website, improve user experience and reduce your bounce rate.

How to Improve Bounce Rate?

Okay – so now you know how to interpret bounce rate, but let’s jump back a bit to our original question. How do you use this information to maximise your digital marketing efforts? Below are some popular tips that you can use to achieve the optimal bounce rate.

Create Clear, Easy-to-Read Pages

Do not underestimate the power of having a page that is inviting and readable. Using the right colours, fonts, text size and use of headings and subheadings, space and paragraphs will go a long way in encouraging users to stay and become engaged. There is no doubt you will need to experiment with these variables to optimise your website for higher conversions and engagement, which leads to the next point.

Utilise A/B Testing

A/B testing is the best way to determine which options work best for your website and your users. It is hard to say what colours attract the most attention or which Call to Action is converting better unless you test it. Utilising A/B testing allows you to compare two chosen versions of a variable, to determine which variation creates the maximum amount of impact from users. The results produced from A/B testing should reveal which version keeps page visitors on your site for a longer period.

Include a powerful Call to Action (CTA)

When users land on your page, you should always think about the intended action you want your visitors to take. Regardless of the nature of the website, you want to give all visitors ample opportunity to complete a desired action and make sure your traffic is being guided further down the marketing funnel. Ensure that your CTA is well placed and clear to trigger impactful conversions.

Target High-Value Traffic Keywords

Targeting keywords with high-value traffic will in turn send high-value users towards your website. Putting your efforts towards keywords that support in-depth and powerful content is the gateway to increasing time spent on your website and consequently reducing bounce rate. Persuasive content that targets valuable keywords, will ensure longer engagement, and encourage sharing.

Speed up Page Load Time

As touched on previously, the slower your landing pages load, the higher your bounce rate will be. It is expected that a webpage should load in no more than 3 seconds for users. After 3 seconds a user will no longer wait and move on to another website, perhaps a competitor. A slow loading webpage can seriously harm your business and discourage prospects from engaging with you any further. Google’s Speed insights test is a good tool to use to check page loading speed.

Improving your bounce rate and interpreting it correctly will lead to a more engaged audience and increased conversions. A visitor who bounces from your website will not convert. The ultimate goal is to provide your audience with a better user experience and you should see the bounce rate metric through this lens when analysing your results. Understanding various industry, channel and device benchmarks will assist you in finding the optimal bounce rate for you.

However, bounce rate is subjective to your goals and industry, as you now know, so if someone wants the proof – send them a link to this article where they can experience the wonders of bounce rate, too.

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    What is Bounce Rate?

    According to Google Analytics, bounce rate measures the percentage of single interaction visits to your website. Simply put, any time a visitor leaves your website from the same page they entered, without viewing any other pages or clicking, that’s a bounce.

    How is Bounce Rate Calculated?

    Divide the number of one-page-only visits, by the total number of entries to the website

    What is a good bounce rate?

    Bounce rates vary based on industry, so it's best to compare for your particular industry. We have a helpful graph in this post with benchmarking information.

    How can I improve my bounce rate?

    There are a number of ways - Clear pages, A/B Testing, Strong CTAs, targeted off-page marketing and fast page speed are just some ways to improve bounce rate.