Bounce Rate: The Stat You Need To Know

Analytics

Ian Lurie Jan 29 2008

There’s an internet marketing metric you’re not watching, but you should be.

You’re tracking visitors. You’re tracking pageviews. Hopefully, you’re even tracking keywords and conversions.
But are you tracking bounce rate?

Bounce Rate is the percentage of visitors leaving your site after viewing only the page on which they landed.
If I visit your site, view one page and leave, without clicking any other links, then I’m a ‘bounce’. A higher bounce rate is bad. A lower one is good.

How to Measure Bounce Rate

You need a basic web analytics package. In Google Analytics, you’ll find bounce rate right on your dashboard page:

bounce rate

And yes, a bounce rate of 61% is awful. I haven’t figured out why you all run away. I don’t bite, I swear.

How to Reduce Bounce Rate

Clearly, I’m not doing that great a job on my blog. On other sites, though, I’ve had better luck.

Here’s how you reduce bounce rate:

  1. Find the worst offenders. Look in your traffic report, at the most-viewed pages. Then find the pages with the highest bounce rates.
  2. Find the heroes. Look in your traffic report again, and find the pages with the lowest bounce rates.
  3. Compare the heroes and the worst offenders. What’s different? Something is, I guarantee.
  4. If you can, use a click-tracking tool like CrazyEgg to see where folks click on the heroes.
  5. Adjust the layout of the worst offenders. Find the most-clicked areas of the best performing pages. Add them to the worst performers.
  6. Track the bounce rate.

Test, measure, and adjust. Eventually, you’ll find the recipe that minimizes bounce rate.

tags : conversation marketing

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12 Comments

  1. Just a thought about the high bounce rate. I get your feed through google reader, which gives me a direct link to this page (or any page that I’m interested in)
    Its highly likely that I’m going to read the article, then wander off and do other things. This is especially true with regular viewers, who are unlikely to have need to browse around the site.
    Essentially RSS feeders are distorting the bounce rate, reducing the need to search the site from the home page and just dropping you directly onto the page you need/want

  2. This is a big problem for us, and your post and further motivated me to get to the root of the problem! Thanks, as always!

  3. Ian

    Hi Greg,
    A very good point. I now have about 550 Feedburner subscribers. As that number’s gone up, the bounce rate’s increased, too.
    Ian

  4. Laura

    Blogs bounce. They just do.
    It’s built into your architecture. Read a post, leave. Read a post, leave.
    The key metric with your blog (and many others I follow) is repeat visitors. Not bounce. Not time-on-site.
    Sure, I’m one of those blasted bouncers at your blog. I’m not here to hang out perpetually, grooving on everything you’ve ever written.
    After all, I’ve probably already read it!
    I come here to read quickly, then leave. So of course you’re going to have high bounce and low time-on-site when it comes to me!
    And it’s entirely appropriate, don’t you think?
    But if you keep posting interesting and useful info, I’ll keep coming back — and recommend that others do the same!

  5. Cade

    A query about the Bounce rate stats in Google Analytics: I find that for certain pages on my sites, I get 100% Bounce rate, despite the fact that when I analyse the ‘Navigation Summary’ for the page, it is clearly being referred to from other pages on my site.
    According to Analytics definition of Bounce rate, it is “The percentage of single-page visits resulting from this set of pages or page.”
    I think that ‘set of pages’ might refer to physical directory. So within a visit, if a page is the only page viewed from within a directory, it will come up as 100% Bounce rate.
    For example, a visitor navigations from http://www.site.com/about to http://www.site.com/about/map and then goes back to /about. /map might come up as 100% bounce rate…
    Can anyone confirm my suspicions?

  6. Alex

    How about building a “related posts” component into your articles?
    I don’t think I’m unusual when I say I usually don’t bother to dig into a site’s categories or archive. I just identify a site I like, subscribe to the feed (which I did!) and read it forward.
    If you could take people by the hand as it were, and lead them to other content which may interest them, I bet that would reduce your bounce rate.
    I agree with previous commenters though – it may be symptomatic of people arriving and finding the info they want.

  7. I run a fitness site and I’ve noticed that I get lots of traffic from google but my bounce rate is 100% for most of those visits. I think in order to track time on the site the user either has to go to more than one page or stay on the site at least 35 seconds. So if it says that the user has been on the site for 00:00:00 seconds, then that means it’s less than 35 seconds on the site.

  8. Ian

    I’d look first at the keywords that are driving traffic. If folks are coming to your site looking for fitness tips, but see your home page, they’ll think they’ve come to the wrong place.

  9. Rob

    “Compare the heroes and the worst offenders. What’s different? Something is, I guarantee.”
    Very true, and can make a big difference.

  10. Vidyut

    I agree with Laura.
    I have a blog with a very high bounce rate on some pages. I also noticed recently that they are pages that are relatively new – as in recently posted.
    It may be likely that regulars read the new stuff and walk out only to return later.
    I usually celebrate increases in return visitors, as these have coincided with increased backlinks. Time on site or high bounce numbers…. I don’t know. Some of the high bounce numbers have earned their own backlinks without me interfering.
    Who would link out to a page that didn’t give them anything of value?
    Vidyut

  11. Kathy

    Thanks for the helpful explanation.
    We have a “personality” website we post to daily, mostly for fun and to keep our humor writing, cartooning, and photo skills in shape. Topics range across the spectrum of whatever we found interesting that day. Still, it’s interesting to see what topics and medium were most compelling. And no surprise, looking at bounce rate shows that topics that are part of a thematic thread or are completely unique to our site have the lowest bounce rate.
    For instance, I crocheted a hat last week in honor of Alexandre Bilodeau’s Olympic gold medal for Canada and blogged on it, titling it “In Honor of Gold, I’m Making A Bobbled Bilodeau.” Three days later, we posted “Bobbled Bilodeau Update,” and guess what? A bounce rate of zero.
    Thanks again for enlightening!
    Ciao, Kathy

  12. Nice points. It’s known that blogs, with no excerpts to posts, got higher bounce rate because the user can read all content from the landing page, and, it doesen’t need to click on title to view the full article.

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