Google Analytics Screencap showing: Time on Page, Bounce Rate, % Exit.
How high is your bounce rate?

Google Definition:

"A bounce is a single-page session on your site. In Analytics, a bounce is calculated specifically as a session that triggers only a single request to the Analytics server, such as when a user opens a single page on your site and then exits without triggering any other requests to the Analytics server during that session.

Bounce rate is single-page sessions divided by all sessions, or the percentage of all sessions on your site in which users viewed only a single page and triggered only a single request to the Analytics server.

These single-page sessions have a session duration of 0 seconds since there are no subsequent hits after the first one that would let Analytics calculate the length of the session."

About Bounce Rate

Having a high or low bounce rate and whether or not you should even care about it in the first place comes down to what your goals/objectives are for your website, and at times individual pages.

When you should measure bounce rate

If your website relies on any of the following:

  • Multi-page processes (ie, ecommerce sites)
  • Monetization through advertisements

If your website profitability relies on people clicking through to other portions of the site or relies on users clicking off your site to go to an advertiser's site or an affiliate site, you will want to measure bounce rate. Measuring bounce rate in these instances will give you a good idea of what is going on with the overall health and performance of your website. If people are bouncing for unknown reasons, you will want to find out why so you can fix that and offer a better user experience.

When you should not measure bounce rate

If your website has any of the following:

  • Single page/continuous scroll
  • Infrequent content updates

If you run a blog or you are a fan of continuous scrolling websites - the very nature of your website is a single page. There aren't going to be many (if any) options for a user to click through to another portion of your site.

That said, you MUST track conversion elements: form submissions, ad interactions, content engagement, etc. Otherwise, you will have no awareness on content effectiveness.

Also, some websites may post infrequent updates that readers/subscribers check when they are sent a notification or are shared the piece of content. In these instances, the user is not likely to click through to other portions of the site because all of the value is derived from the single page they are reading. Again, tracking conversion elements is advised.

Getting An Accurate Bounce Rate

Getting an accurate bounce rate is not as easy as installing Google Analytics. What about on-page engagements? What about users who click an ad or affiliate link away from your site? On a basic installation of Google Analytics, you do not have any awareness on these behaviours. You just know people visited and then left - not what they did or why they left.

You must set up event tracking in order to understand user behaviour accurately on your website. Through events, a click of an embedded video, the completion of a form, the click of an ad, and much more are all considered second triggers to Google Analytics, thus removing this "single session" from being considered a bounce.

But what if I don't want certain events considered?

In this case, if you want to track an event but make it so it does not reduce your bounce rate, you must label these events as opt_noninteraction. By labelling them so, Google Analytics will not consider their events as triggers as an "additional session".

You may want to do this on specific pages or for specific engagements that you do not consider part of your success metric pool. Or you may just want the most harsh definition of bounce rate possible to determine just how sticky your website is.

What Does Bounce Rate Effect?

Mostly bounce rate tells us how engaging our website is as a whole. "Are users sticking around to do more than page x?" However, it hints at a few other things going on, and can influence other metrics directly.

SEO - Technically speaking, bounce rate does not directly influence your site's search rankings. However, it does serve as a good indicator of site health - which does affect your search rankings. If bounce rate is applicable to your site (or specific pages on your site) then you should be aware of what is going on.

Monetization - If people are legitimately bouncing - you are losing money.

Session Duration - Bounces are considered 0 second sessions, thus bringing down your overall average. Something to be aware of.

Other Metrics By Comparison

It is also important to consider other metrics in comparison to bounce rate.

For example, if your website has an incredibly high bounce rate, but you want as low a bounce rate as possible, you may need to look at content completion rates. If your Call-to-action for ads or recommended content are way down your page (or at least at a part where users aren't making it to) you may need to re-structure your content flow. Whether this means splitting larger features up into smaller more digestible chunks or perhaps pushing your CTA's earlier in the content or just making better content - you need to know.

If bounce rate is something you are looking into, you should also be looking at the following to help provide additional context on user behaviour:

Completion Rates

As illustrated in our example, are users actually finishing the content or is it actively driving users away from your site? Are they missing key conversion elements?

Dwell Time

How much value is your content providing users? A 2,000 word blog has a relatively long read-through time, if people only spend 10 seconds on the page yet have technically scrolled to the bottom thus "completing" the piece of content, you know something isn't right.

Then again, if they ctrl+f through your content quickly and DO find the answer, it is important to know. Heat mapping may help you determine user behaviour in this instance.

Conversion Rates

Ads, affiliate links, etc, driving users away from your website may be goals reached. In this case, it is important to track those "bounces" accurately.

Tying It All Together

So what does all of this mean to you? Well, it begins with setting clear goals and objectives for not only your website as a whole, but each page individually.

Next is to have clear data acquisition funnels providing you with the correct information in a timely fashion so you can make adjustments as necessary. Which conversion elements do you want to track? Which do you consider important/affecting bounce rate?

Learn from observing user behaviour and make sure you have two-way communication with your users in order to better meet their expectations of your website and its content.

If you are unsure how your website is performing or need help setting up proper monitoring - get in touch! We are here to help.