Bounce Rate – Should You Be Worried?
Contrary to apparently popular belief: Your Bounce Rate is NOT a “terrible website” score – it’s an insight into user behaviour.
A lot of business owners seem particularly obsessed with their website’s bounce rate. I’ve seen many businesses owners change their website simply because they felt their bounce rate was too high. Unfortunately, obsessing about bounce rate can have negative consequences. By only considering bounce rate, they completely ignore the other areas that might need improvement and recklessly spend money on website changes.
It’s not as though your bounce rate should be ignored, but it’s just one metric in a plethora of metrics to consider. Like anything in Google Analytics, the metrics need to be considered in context, and other variables need to be considered. If you’re wondering “what is a good bounce rate?” or “what is an average bounce rate?” then maybe you need to think about some other factors before you jump to concluding that your website is terrible.
What is a bounce rate?
Firstly, let’s define bounce rate. I’ve actually heard it defined a couple of ways, but it’s really worth knowing the definition that Google Analytics uses.
“Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page sessions (i.e. sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance without interacting with the page).”
So what does bounce rate mean for you? It isn’t the percentage of people who left because they thought your website was terrible! It’s simply that they viewed one page and didn’t interact with it in the way Google Analytics considers an interaction. There are lots of reasons why people bounce, and I’ll go into a few of them below.
Landing Pages/Single Page Sites
Single page sites (often used like landing pages) will usually have high bounce rates because, by default, they meet one of the criteria required for a bounce: a single-page session.
The other factor is that people don’t interact with the page. Remember, people can still get a lot from a page without interacting with it. This is common when you’re encouraging people to call you. For example, plumbers or mechanics using Google Ads will target people in emergency situations who are looking for a quick response. It’s very common for users to “bounce” on their landing pages because they’re landing there and then quickly calling a phone number. Even without emergency situations, people can get all the info they need and decide to call you or to consider you for later. That’s totally fine too!
Quality of Your Traffic
A lot of people are very quick to blame the website when they see a high bounce rate. This is a dangerous conclusion to jump to because it totally ignores why the person has come to your site in the first place. For example, let’s say that someone is looking for wine glasses online so they type “buy wine glasses” into Google. This triggers an advertisement for eye glasses – perhaps the advertiser has the keyword +buy +glasses and hasn’t added enough negative keywords to block out eye glasses. The user might click on the ad and go to your site, then exit it after quickly realising it’s not what they’re looking for. This doesn’t mean that your website is bad, it means that your traffic is bad!
Why would someone click on an ad that’s for seeing glasses when they typed in wine glasses? That’s a discussion for another post, but most of the time it’s either because they’re trigger happy, the ad is unclear, or they get distracted and simply want to check out seeing glasses. This is pretty common, especially for advertisers sitting in position 1.
It doesn’t even have to be as extreme as typing in the wrong thing. People might be typing in things like “how to clean your glasses”. That’s still somewhat relevant to a site that sells eyewear, but they’re not looking to buy anything, so it’s likely they’ll bounce away when they realise they can’t get advice.
Traffic from social media can also be unqualified and simply be easily distracted visitors just checking you out – sort of like the fast-paced window shopping aspect of being online. Again, the traffic is relevant, but it’s not quality.
Don’t beat yourself up when you see that people are bouncing away from your site. Remember that life happens and people have very short attention spans when it comes to browsing. Babies cry, doorbells ring, YouTube exists and people get phone calls. There’s lots of reasons for people to abruptly leave your site and most sites will always ALWAYS have some kind of bounce rate. I would even question the tracking set up if your bounce rate was consistently below 10%.
‘Good’ Bounce Rates
“What’s a good bounce rate?” you ask. Well, that really depends on a few factors. Your website might naturally have a high bounce rate because you’re trying to get people to call or respond via methods other than directly interacting with the page. A low bounce rate can also be cause for concern – maybe people are finding it really hard to find what they’re looking for on your site so they’re going to multiple pages and searching for answers. That’s not good either!
If you’re wondering how to reduce bounce rate then consider why it’s happening in the first place.
- Where is your traffic coming from?
- How are they getting to your site?
- Is it quality traffic?
- Is your website relevant to what they’ve typed?
- Are they just browsing from social media sites?
- What is your website designed to do? Are you trying to get people to act quickly?
- Do those actions always require people to interact with the page?
If people are coming directly to your page, they might have your page bookmarked and keep returning to it for reference.
If you can safely say that your traffic is highly qualified and that you want people to spend a long amount of time on your page, then you might consider the following:
- Make the content as relevant as possible by directly addressing a users issues or questions.
- Make sure that your website has clear navigation. If they’re getting to your site and they can’t find what they’re looking for straight away, they might just give up.
- Increase your calls to action. These aren’t just forms and phone numbers, it’s also guiding people where to go. Make buttons bigger or more prominent if need be.
In a nutshell
At the end of the day, your bounce rate is just an indicator of the way that people interact with your site. Consider the stats in context – put yourself in your customer’s shoes and ask yourself whether this page would meet your needs if it was your first interaction with the business.
Want advice that’s a little more specific? Get in touch with us and we’d be happy to help!
Written by Gemma Renton