Even if you’re relatively new to the search engine optimization (SEO) scene, you’ve almost certainly come across the term “bounce rate” and understand enough to know that a high bounce rate is bad and a low bounce rate is good.
But many questions surround this metric shrouded in myth, and whether you know the answers to these is another story entirely:
• What is bounce rate in Google Analytics?
• How can you measure bounce rate?
• What is a good bounce rate?
• How can you reduce bounce rate?
The Google Analytics bounce rate is one of the most misunderstood metrics in SEO, even among experienced marketers. In this article, we’ll try to simplify it for you. We’ll help you make more sense of your own website bounce rate, explain how to improve bounce rate and hopefully boost your conversions in the process.
What Is Bounce Rate (and Why Should You Care)?
Let’s dive straight in with the most important question of all: What is bounce rate in Google Analytics? A “bounce” is a single-page session on your site, and your website bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your site after viewing only one page. These visitors “bounce” off your site without taking any action beyond the first page they land on.
Visitors can bounce from your site in one of five ways:
• Clicking on an external backlink
• Clicking the “back” button to leave your site
• Closing a window or tab open on your page
• Typing in a new URL
• Being booted off by a session timeout
If you have several site visitors landing on your page and promptly leaving without taking any of your conversion actions, your pages aren’t performing at their peak. But before you can get into addressing the problem head-on, you’ll need to look more closely at the bounce rate Google Analytics is showing you and what it means.
How to Find and Measure Your Bounce Rate
When you understand how to find and analyze your website bounce rate for yourself, you can get stuck into the complexities of how to improve bounce rate. But what is bounce rate in Google Analytics, and how are you supposed to make sense of the numbers?
You’ve probably seen the stats on your analytics dashboard, creeping incessantly upwards and stressing you out. With SEMrush listing the bounce rate Google Analytics provides as the fourth-most-important ranking factor on search engine results pages (SERPs), it’s not hard to see why the number is something worth paying attention to.
So, what is a good bounce rate? Many experts have given their answer, but the general – very general – consensus is that it lies somewhere around the 40 percent mark. Most websites fall between 41-51 percent, and a terrible bounce rate is in the 70+ percent zone.
To glean the most insights from your Google Analytics bounce rate, you’ll want to enable benchmarking to get a visualization of the average bounce rate in your industry. With benchmarking, you can even view section-specific bounce rates and get a better idea of where within the range your website should fall.
The first numbers you fixate on will likely be in the Audience Overview report, which provides the overall bounce rate of your site. But when you’re comfortable driving in Google Analytics, you should also examine your number from different perspectives. The All Pages report, for example, gives you the bounce rate for individual pages, and the Channels report shows you the percentage for each channel grouping.
No matter which reports you examine, the idea is that a lower Google bounce rate (as compared to your industry average) means you have a better chance of converting visitors into customers. A higher bounce rate, by comparison, means your website isn’t doing a good job of engaging your visitors, and you’re losing out on valuable leads. Of course, this is true to an extent – but, as with all things SEO, the average bounce rate Google Analytics shows you isn’t quite so simple.
Myths About Bounce Rate
Google bounce rate can’t be taken at face value. The tricky thing to get to grips with is that a high bounce rate doesn’t immediately signify a terrible website. For one, the average bounce rate will vary across industries: Business-to-business (B2B) organizations, for example, see higher bounce rates than business-to-consumer (B2C) companies.
If you own an eCommerce business with a blog component, your blog posts would likely have a very different bounce rate and drag down the comparatively excellent numbers your product pages might be pulling.
Another thing to keep in mind is that your average bounce rate, while indicative of the “how,” is blind to the “what” and the “why.” It’s entirely possible for a visitor to complete a conversion action and still bounce. This could look like a number of interactions:
• A prospect could find what they’re looking for on a single page of your site, hang around reading the content for 20 minutes, then add their email address to your call-to-action (CTA).
• A prospect could land on your page, be sold on your services and pick up their phone to dial the contact number at the top of your page before leaving the site.
• A prospect could simply have had their browsing session interrupted (life happens!) and come back to your site later.
Even though, in all these cases, this visitor is clearly engaged – and the session, by any other metric, is a success – it still counts as a big, bad bounce.
The answer to “What is a good bounce rate?” will differ for every site. If you’re not a webmaster or analytics expert, the challenge lies in determining a reasonable bounce rate for your particular business. In this case, a Google Analytics services provider, who can assess Google bounce rate in conjunction with other relevant metrics, like Time Spent on Page and Average Session Duration, might be a good investment.
While it’s clear why bounce rate can’t be analyzed at the surface level, the fact remains: If your site has an exceptionally high bounce rate and a low conversion rate, regardless of your industry, something is amiss. And that something probably involves your website.
Why Are Visitors Bouncing Off Your Site?
If your conversion rate is shoddy and your Google Analytics bounce rate is off the charts, you know you have a major conversion rate optimization (CRO) problem on your hands. Common reasons your bounce rate isn’t looking as healthy as it should include:
• Your page isn’t mobile-friendly. With the ubiquity of tablets and smartphones (and Google officially introducing mobile-first indexing in March 2021), mobile responsiveness is vital.
• Your title tags or meta descriptions are misleading. Visitors could be entering your site thinking they’re going to get one thing and be offered something completely different.
• Your page has technical errors. If your bounce rate and average time on page are equally questionable, your page likely has some loading issues that need to be addressed.
• Your page isn’t easily navigable. Poor navigation and bad user experience (UX) can have a user off your site in seconds – after all, there are endless search results that will give them what they need for less effort.
• Visitors are landing on your page via a bad link from another website. Sometimes, through no fault of your own, other sites attach your link to an irrelevant phrase, and your page doesn’t provide your referral traffic with what they expect.
• Your page has low-quality content. If your content is just plain bad, you need to give your website a complete content audit or get help from a professional content writing service to revamp and rework.
Take a hard look at your website and ask yourself if any of these could be contributors to your less-than-stellar numbers. When you’ve narrowed down the possible factors, it will be easier to determine exactly how to improve bounce rate and increase conversions.
How to Reduce Bounce Rate
Now that you have a better understanding of the metric, what it’s telling you and why your numbers look the way they do, the question of how to lower bounce rate is fairly straightforward: You need to work on your website. If it’s looking like you need to decrease bounce rate across your entire website, that’s a significant indicator of content that isn’t engaging your visitors. Think of all the valuable leads and traffic slipping away!
Here are a few immediate steps you can take towards an improved bounce rate – and a better website.
Take a Look at Your Top Exit Pages
In Google Analytics, locate the report for your Exit Pages. You can decrease bounce rate by comparing the bounce rate and exit rate on your top traffic pages. This tells you how many visitors are landing directly on the page, how many are landing through internal linking and which pages are most frequently being abandoned, helping you narrow down the pages where improvements need to be made.
Improve Your Content and Readability
It seems almost too obvious, but it’s one of the best things you can do to decrease bounce rate and increase conversions. Make sure visitors aren’t turned away by something as small as too much text and a bad layout. Ask yourself:
• Is the headline big and bold enough?
• Have you used a good number of subheadings?
• Have you broken up text using bullet points?
• Have you included high-quality images or infographics?
This is also a good time to look at font style and size and the amount of white space on your page. Even the smallest change could be an answer to how to lower bounce rate.
Use Images and Videos
A high bounce rate is a good indication of a site that isn’t engaging, but images and videos are – it’s proven. Counteract a page that isn’t retaining a visitor’s attention with the most attention-grabbing form of media. Short videos and infographics get your audience engaged with your content and keep them hanging around (and hopefully exploring) for a little while longer.
Consider the Placement of Your CTAs
A solution to how to lower bounce rate could be as small as a CTA. Look at your call-to-action buttons with a critical eye, specifically their location on the page, the copy, color and size. Attractive CTAs with copy that is compelling or offers real value (for example, a free trial) can do wonders for conversion. Sometimes, the simplest fix is also the most effective.
Improve Your Site’s Speed
In a matter of seconds, your visitor makes up their mind about your website. They base their decision on several factors, but one of the most important is site speed. Your pages could be being abandoned because they’re loading too slowly. In Google Analytics, you can access your Page Timings report to analyze each page individually as well as the overall average speed of your site. Start working on the pages that have higher traffic and slower load times to make the most of your efforts.
Before You Bounce Off…
We hope this article has given you a thorough understanding of how to find, interpret and measure this complex Google Analytics metric, and that we’ve answered your question of how to reduce bounce rate.
Once you’ve gone through your full website audit, you may decide the best course of action is a complete site overhaul. After all, many factors contribute to a high bounce rate, and your issue could lie with more than one. If you think it might be best to revisit your website, consider working with a custom website design company that can collaborate with you and take care of the technical aspects.
Thrive has worked with hundreds of clients to build UX-friendly websites optimized for conversions. With a beautiful website that’s SEO-ready and responsive web design to keep your site up to speed, it won’t be long before your bounce rate percentage goes in the direction you want it to.
Contact us for a free proposal, and let’s see what we can do to lower your bounce rate, boost your conversions and grow your business.