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How high is your bounce rate?

Your "bounce rate" is one of the key performance indicators you should be monitoring in your web analytics. Bounce rate means a visitor came and left (without digging deeper into your site or performing any actions) - but often the implications can be a little more complex.

bounce rate

Your "bounce rate" is one of the key performance indicators you should be monitoring in your web analytics. Bounce rate means a visitor came and left (without digging deeper into your site or performing any actions) – but often the implications can be a little more complex. Low bounce rates equate to better performance so the first step to improving your website is to include this metric in your review.

What is “high"?

 Bounce rates are unique to every website (and every page) – low bounce rates are good but how do you know what is good (or bad)? Here are two rules of thumb to follow:

  1. Never compare your bounce rate to other sites… a ratio considered good on one may be bad on another. For example, some well-known news sites put the top topics on the home page where a high number of visitors get what they came for by viewing a single page – this leads to a high bounce rate but it doesn’t mean they are unsuccessful.
  2. Never rely on "average bounce rate". The "averaged" number shown on the dashboard of your analytics is aggregated data across a number of days. The variance between days and individual pages can be huge. Look at individual pages (in Google Analytics go to Content, Top content and then view individual bounce rates for each page) Your overall bounce rate may be 47% – but If page A has a 90% bounce rate and page B has 30% – you know you should get busy on page A.

Some common high bounce rate problems:

  • Content is boring or the design is outdated
  • People arrived by "accident" – The page is linked somewhere on the web for an unrelated topic – check your backlinks
  • If traffic is coming from pay per click – click fraud or poor keyword targeting could be an issue
  • The page loads slow or has errors
  • Non-human visits (robots hitting your page that register as visits)
  • The page is a dead end with no call to action
  • Visits from bookmarks or visitors from your own company using the page as a “home page”

The first step is to consider where people are coming FROM when they land on one of your pages with a high bounce rate… are they arriving by mistake? Sometimes a link or ad somewhere that is misleading about the actual content of the page can produce high bounce rates. By segmenting the data and excluding certain visitors, you may get a better (or brighter) picture or at least be better equipped to identify and fix a high bounce rate problem. In Google Analytics, you can monitor your bounce rates over time on a page by page basis. Look for the pages that are consistently high and start making plans to improve them.

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