What Does Bounce Rate mean in Google Analytics?
Bounce rate definition: Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits to your website.
Your bounce rate reflects people who arrive on one page and leave from the same page, without visiting anywhere else.
No time to read this article now? Download the PDF version for future reference!
Here’s a bounce:
- Visitor clicks the back button
- Visitor closes the browser
- Visitor types a new URL in the browser
- Visitor clicks an external link
- Visitor does not click to another page for 30 minutes.
Bounce Rate vs Exit Rate
A bounce is often confused with an ‘exit’, which is also displayed in Google Analytics.
- The bounce is when someone visits one page and leaves.
- The exit rate is the percentage of people that leave a site on that specific page. They may have visited lots of other pages, it just happens that they exit from that page.
Still confused? Let’s say you have…
- 100 visitors to one page on your website and they all bounce. It’s the first and only page they visit – Bounce rate is 100%, Exit rate is 100%
- 100 visitors to your page (no other visitors to your site) and 50% bounce and 50% visit other pages. That’s a 50% bounce rate and a 50% exit rate.
- 100 visitors to your page and 100 exits from this page. But 20 visitors to that page arrived from other pages. The bounce rate is 80% and the exit rate is 100%. All 100 visitors exited from that page but 20 visitors didn’t bounce because they were on other pages first.
What about having a high bounce rate with a blog?
When you have a blog, your bounce rate is typically quite high (e.g. above 70%) because so many visitors will hear about your content but, when they arrive, they may not be ready to engage on your site because:
1. They don’t like the content
2. They love your content but they don’t have time to read it now
3. They’re looking for something and your blog doesn’t match what they are looking for.
Sometimes, there is not a lot you can do with a bounce but, on other occasions, you can reduce it.
What can you learn from bounce rate?
Your bounce rate can tell you a lot about how visitors are interacting with your website.
Sometimes, a high bounce rate is fine… a visitor might want one specific piece of information, then they read a blog post you have written that answers their question. They have no need to explore your site any further.
Or they might want to get in touch with your business. They go to your homepage and find your telephone number and they get in touch with you directly. That’s a bounce in Google Analytics, but it’s good news for your business!
But it’s not always this positive. If you have pages on your website that have an especially high bounce rate, or if your whole site does, you need to look into what might be causing it and address any problems you find.
- Is your site difficult to navigate?
- Is it poorly designed or unprofessional and offputting to visitors?
- Does your site take a long time to load?
- Is the content high quality?
- Is your site optimized for different devices?
Does Google Track Your Bounce Rate?
Google claims it doesn’t take into account your bounce rate in search rankings. But search engines do seem to calculate dwell time, which Bing explains as “The time between when a user clicks on our search result and when they come back from your website”.
If someone carries out a search and quickly realises your site doesn’t give them the information they need, they will return back to the search results quickly and find the info elsewhere.
This could tell Google that you’re not providing good information!
A high bounce rate can also indicate that there are some problems with your website, so make sure you understand what your stats are and try to address any issues.
How to Reduce a High Bounce Rate
1. Adjust how bounce rate is tracked
The bounce rate you see in Google Analytics pays no attention to the amount of time a visitor spends on your website.
It may be that they spend 25 minutes reading an in-depth blog post, then leave, and that is very different behavior to someone who pops in, looks around for a few seconds, then heads away!
There are ways of adjusting the way that Analytics measures and tracks your bounce rates in a different way, using Adjusted Bounce Rates (ABR).
Search Engine Watch explains it like this:
“By adding one line of code to your Google Analytics snippet, you could fire off an event to GA after a certain amount of time elapsed.
“For example, you could set the ABR threshold to 15 seconds, 30 seconds, 1 minute, or whatever fits your specific content. And if an event is triggered and captured via Google Analytics, then the visit won’t count as a bounce. Voila, you now have a much stronger metric to view when trying to determine low dwell time and actual bounce rate.”
2. Create a better internal-linking structure
How much internal linking do you do within your content? When you create a blog post, do you try to find other, relevant content on your website that you can link to?
This is going to help with your bounce rate.
A great way of finding relevant content is to search Google! For example:
I recently created a post about ‘Twitter analytics‘. To find content related to Twitter analytics, I went to Google and typed in the following:
Now, you have a list of posts to link to.
Advanced Tip: Don’t forget to revisit your older posts and link them to your newer, related posts!
3. Make your content more readable
If your content is long and detailed, it can look daunting and people won’t read it.
Your audience skims through your content, it’s a fact! You need to entice them to stop at different parts of your content.
A great way of doing this is having more compelling sub-headings within your content. We try to make your Heading 2s (h2 tags) look like mini blog post titles. For example, instead of a heading like this:
We would change this to:
3 Awesome Tips to Reduce Bounce Rate
It’s more likely that people will be looking for awesome tips to do something specific!
4. Add more variety to your content
Recently, we start testing recording our blog posts on soundcloud.com and embedding this recording within the post.
This is increasing time on the page by at least 10%.
If we can get people to spend more time on the page, they are less likely to bounce.
5. Improve on your meta titles and meta descriptions
6. Get your content shared
When you go to a blog post and see nobody has shared the content, this means it’s so bad that even the owner didn’t share it!
Social sharing is social proof.
7. Survey your audience to improve customer experience
When was the last time you used a tool such as Qualaroo to survey your audience to see what they think of your site?
If you can find out what your customers enjoy – and don’t enjoy – about your website, you can work to improve it.
8. Use an exit-intent popup
When someone is leaving your site, you still have a chance to capture their attention.
You can install plugins or code on your site that makes your call-to-action popup display when it looks like somebody is leaving the site, e.g. they move their mouse away from the screen.
Because you’re not interrupting their browsing experience, they can be more receptive to what you are offering them than if the pop-up gets in the way of their surfing.
9. Use a related-posts plugin
At the end of a blog post, you can suggest other, relevant posts that the reader might want to look at.
After all, if they’ve made it to the end of the post, they are interested in what you have to say!
10. Target the right keywords
Make sure the keywords you are targeting are relevant to the content you produce.
If you show up in the search results for a particular keyword, but your blog post or web page isn’t really related to that topic, visitors will return to the search results and get what they need from someone else!
When you do your keyword research, don’t forget that your keywords should be relevant to your brand, as well as just being popular or having low competition.
Any traffic you get from irrelevant keywords will be low quality and lead to high bounce rates.
11. Improve the quality of your content
If you want your site visitors to stick around and look at more than one page of your site, make it worth their while!
Make sure your content is high quality and provides a lot of value. This makes it a lot more likely that people will want more of it, will share it, and will come back to your site for more.
12. Provide a content upgrade to allow people to read the content later
In our recent posts, we have had an option for people to download a blog post as a PDF to read at their leisure.
This encourages engagement and reaches out to people who may want to consume your content but don’t have time right now.
It’s also a good way to get new email subscribers, too!
13. Have better call to actions within your post
You can encourage your readers to visit more than one page of your website by suggesting places for them to go.
- Like in point 9, suggest other relevant posts
- Like in point 2, make sure you link internally to content that will interest your readers
- Have appealing links easily available from your blog posts. Here, Pat Flynn has some of his most popular posts linked to in the right-hand sidebar.
14. Add in-page events to reduce bounce rates
If your site visitors interact with elements on your website, such as signing up for your email list, then even if they don’t visit any other pages, this avoids a bounce.
This is called using in-page events and these events can be anything from watching a video to clicking on headings to progress through an article. The PDF download we use works in this way, too.
With a bit of additional code on your page (see point 1), these events can give you much better information about your true bounce rate.
15. Speed up page-load times
Many people won’t wait more than a few seconds for a website to load before abandoning it.
Make sure your visitors don’t bounce within a few seconds by speeding up your website load times and keeping their attention.
16. Better images that capture the attention of the visitor
Having a great image at the top of a blog post makes a webpage more attractive, it makes it clear the reader is in the right place, and it breaks up the text, making the article easier to read.
It also helps to encourage social sharing.
What’s not to like?
We always use an image that includes the post title right at the top of the post, such as this one on our Instagram Hashtags Reference Guide.
We also include images where relevant throughout the post, to make the text more readable and to describe what we’re talking about.
17. Have a mobile-specific website
The number of people who access the web on their phones and tablets is increasing all the time, so if you don’t cater for this traffic, you will lose it. Customers no longer tolerate unoptimized websites with tiny text and buttons that are impossible to click.
Google even marks whether websites are ‘mobile friendly’ in its mobile search results, so many people won’t even click through to your site if your site doesn’t have this tag!
Build a mobile-specific website or look at responsive design to make sure that anyone who visits your site from their phone or iPad gets the kind of experience that will encourage them to explore further.
18. Bigger sub headings on the page to attract the reader in
As we said above, it is important to make a blog post look welcoming, and a big, dense block of text does not do this!
As well as including images, use sub headings that really stand out to make your blog look more readable so people can scan to the section they need.
19. Install Heatmap software to understand your audience
When you install heatmap software on your website, you can use it to get a visual impression of what people are doing when they visit your website.
Do they read the entire post or stop part way through? Which links do they click and which do they ignore?
Instead of looking at stats and numbers to find this out, why not find out with a heatmap? Heatmaps use colors to demonstrate what your visitors do on each page of your blog.
They become more useful the more visitors you have, and they use patches of color to show which parts of your site attract lots of clicks and how much of each post your visitors are reading.
We’ve been using Hotjar recently, which includes heatmap capabilities. We’re impressed with what we’ve seen so far!
20. Split up longer posts
Long content is a great way to share a lot of in-depth information, but sometimes there is too much for a single post.
Longer posts can be divided up over several entries, creating a series that can be invaluable to readers, giving them a good reason to click to see more.
21. Interactive visuals/infographics
Infographics are an effective way to present info so that it is attractive and easy to understand. When infographics are also interactive, this increases engagement with your content and can create the in-page events we mentioned in point 14.
What are your biggest bounce rate challenges?
Which of the suggestions above will you try?
Tell us below, we love to hear from you!