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Bounce Rate: Why This Metric Is Important!

By April 14th, 2021SEO

Everyone who owns a website should have a slight understanding of what bounce rate is. It is an SEO-related metric that shows the percentage of visitors that leave any of your landing pages without any further action.

In other words, people don’t leave comments, don’t click through to get to another page, etc.

There must be said that bounce rate is a pretty useful metric that helps estimate user engagement. Therefore, it would be quite useful for any website owner to get familiar with it a bit closer.

In this guide, you will find out everything you need to know about the metric called “Bounce Rate.”

Let’s start!

Bounce Rate

The Importance of Bounce Rate – if Any

As has been already stated in the introduction, bounce rate is an important metric. It clearly shows whether your target audience is interested in visiting your website and separate landing pages.

Plus, it helps you understand if there is something wrong with a tracking setup.

On the other hand, this metric can be overestimated.

Why?

Because you think about the main priority of any business website. This priority is ROI. Thus, let’s say that you have launched five campaigns. You want to get new leads that would sign up for your online newsletter (for example) or buy your product. You can see that all these campaigns have different bounce rates. A few campaigns might seem to have the best bounce rate but when you start to calculate the conversion rate, you can see that it is not impressive.

Hence, this simple but real example proves that bounce rate can’t be taken into account when it comes to ROI. Just to rate the user engagement of your pages.

How Bounce Rate Is Calculated by Google

When you set up Google Analytics for processing your website, every page must have a tracking ID in the code. This code is responsible for the sessions that happen on your website.

When a user leaves your website and there is no more interaction, the session expires. The visit to the website is classified as a bounced. But if the journey of the user continues throughout the website, the status “bounced” will be canceled.

It should be underlined that the code can expire due to different third-party reasons. For example:

  • Session timeouts. The session may expire even if the user still wants to engage with the website.
  • Pages loading slowly. If the pages load too slowly on your website, it might lead to bounce because people don’t like to wait.
  • Ad blockers. Unfortunately, ad blockers tend to prevent the tracking code from firing. Therefore, you won’t be able to see the visitors of your website tracked by analytics.

Now, let’s see the main difference between bounce rate and other almost similar metrics.

Bounce Rate vs Dwell Time vs Exit Rate

It is strictly important to understand the difference between these three metrics – bounce rate, exit rate, and dwell time. Let’s see how both exit rate and dwell time are connected with bounce rate.

Exit rate stands for the percentage of sessions that end on some particular page.

Let’s say, three users visit your website. These three separate sessions start on page “A” – it will be 33% of bounce rate. The bounce rate for pages “B” and “C” equals 0% because all the sessions were started on the first page – “A”. To conclude, the exit rate will have the following percentage:

“A” – 33% (only one user exited the website from page “A”)
“B” – 100% (two users exited the site from page “B”)
“C” – 0 (none of these three users didn’t exit the website from page “C”)

This is how the exit rate cooperates with the bounce rate.

Dwell time equals the time between the user clicks on the search result and returns to the SERP. You shouldn’t be confused with the fact that dwell time is not the metric you could find in Google Analytics.

This “metric” was created by SEO experts as one of the ranking factors Google takes into account. It is not confirmed by Google to be an official ranking factor.

You can read more about dwell time in this guide by ahrefs “Dwell Time: Is it a ranking factor?”

A Few Pieces of Advice on Using Bounce Rate

When you work with analytics you must understand what you need to investigate and what filters to apply accordingly. Otherwise, there won’t be any sense in exploring data that Google Analytics illustrates.

If you take a look at bounce rates across different topics in order to estimate user engagement, it won’t make any sense.

Why?

Because bounce rate is aggregated throughout all landing pages and campaigns. Therefore, don’t pay too much attention to aggregated reports.

It differs from page to page. Consequently, you will have to specify and include a landing page dimension within the report + choose the channel for analyzing.

To clarify the things here is what you need to do is go to the “Landing Pages” report (Behaviour > Site Content > Landing Pages) and change the “All Users” segment to “Organic traffic”.

Organic Traffic Report

The next step is to narrow down the results. You can do this by excluding statistically insignificant pages within the “Landing Page” dimension.

Click on the Advanced link to apply the filters.

Analytics advanced filter

Afterward, filter for the product page with the word “infographic” (as an example) in the URL and exclude pages that have less than 100 sessions.

Analytics filter

You will get the report where the bounce rate makes total sense.

Good bounce rate

Don’t judge the entire bounce rate statistics of your website by taking into account popular pages only. Popular pages are visited by people very often and the bounce rate may vary drastically.

Plus, it doesn’t have a direct impact on the bounce rate statistics taken from the other pages on the website. Instead, you should draw your attention to the median bounce rate of the pages.

Meanwhile, if the page has higher than a medium bounce rate, it might be a clear signal for:

  1. This exact page is the one where users bounce naturally.
  2. The page lacks a better user experience.
  3. The title tag/meta description doesn’t get in line with the content on the page.

You might wonder how people can leave the page naturally. Here is the explanation – if people want to get contact information about your website, they visit the “Contact us” page. They either fill out the contact form and leave the page or copy the email address and get back to the homepage.

As you can see, this bounce happens naturally.

It should be stated that there are categories of pages that are supposed to see users bounced. As like the pages that suggest some recipes.

Do you remember how you deal with such pages?

You click the page, read the recipe, and leave it without any further interaction with the website. You need no more information except for the recipe.

If you want to understand why people bounce from your pages, you must analyze the content itself. It can be the reason why users don’t want to land on this page. Likely, you can always repurpose content and make it more engaging. It will help you keep people staying on the page and read it with further website interaction.

As you can see in the infographic below, there are lot more reasons why people might leave your website. It’s a good time to review all these points!

Why People Leave Your Website and Why You Lose Leads – Infographic

Good Bounce Rate – What It Is?

If you believe that you will find out what a good bounce rate is – you are wrong. It all depends on your objectives. Keep in mind that the customer journey consists of different phases and stages. It leads to the conclusion that bounce rate differs between the pages and their traffic sources. Hence, don’t lump the results under a general umbrella.

For instance, review the performance of Google’s Merchandise Store homepage:

Good bounce rate

Pay attention to the difference between bounce rate for “partners/affiliate” and “google/cpc” – it is 133%.

If you dive deeper into analytics, you will see that there is a difference in bounce rate for separate traffic sources:

Google Bounce Rate

To sum up, bounce rate waves between 35% and 85% for “google/organic” and the rest most visited pages.

So, what conclusion can you make regarding a “good” or “bad” bounce rate?

It entirely depends on how you look at data and analyze it. You should find the right angle, the rest will be done by Google Analytics.

But what if you feel like the bounce rate is “bad”?

Bounce rate can’t be “bad” but it can be “wrong” for sure. It is because data can be inaccurate from time to time. As a result, the bounce rate shows either too high or too low stats.

If that happens, you must check to see if there are any mistakes with the tracking code setup.

Anyway, let’s review the most common issues that might affect the bounce rate data:

  • Duplicate tracking code. If you notice that all your bounce rates close to zero, you have trouble with duplicate tracking codes.
  • Events in Google Analytics are set up wrong. You know that the events in Google Analytics are interactive by default. Thus, if you use them regularly, try to switch minor ones off.
  • Virtual pageviews are not firing on JavaScript websites. Use virtual pageviews to avoid bounce rates being misleading.

7 Ways That Will Help You Improve Bounce Rate

Unfortunately, bounce rate is not related to marketing and business in general. It is quite difficult to improve bounce rate directly.

However.

Since bounce rate shows the level of user engagement, you can aim efforts towards improving this aspect. User engagement is tightly connected with your marketing objectives, branding, and other activities that can attract your target audience.

So, let’s review seven ways how to improve user engagement one-by-one.

1. Satisfy people’s expectations

Do you remember what was stated in this post before?

If your meta description doesn’t reflect what people will find on the page, these users will leave the page without spending a minute there. The same happens even if people can’t find what they want on your page – they will leave eventually.

The lesson that must be learned – give people the information they want.

If you analyze the content structure across different blogs, you will see the following scheme – an introduction with some general facts, a few sections that suggest third-party stats, and actual tips or strategies you wanted to read about.

In other words, people have to scroll the page until the place where they would be able to find the information they came for.

Instead, use the inverted pyramid method.

Pyramid

By using the inverted pyramid method, you will be able to cover the topic more progressively. Thus, you will capture the attention of your target audience. Consequently, people won’t leave the page, and the level of bounce rate will decrease.

2. Work on your writing skills

Oddly enough, but people can leave your page because it is hard to read. Therefore, write like Hemingway. Don’t use complex sentences, some difficult terms, and fancy words.

Keep the text easy to consume.

3. Optimize your website for mobile devices

You are aware of the fact that the majority of visits to the websites are from mobile devices. Your website shouldn’t be an exception from this tendency. It means that you must take care of optimizing it in terms of having intuitive navigation, large images, and font size.

4. Keep under control pop-ups and ads

The previous “way” of improving user engagement has underlined the importance of mobile-friendliness of your website. However, there is another aspect that you must not forget.

When too many and huge pop-ups appear on the mobile screen, it covers the actual content completely. It is very annoying and makes people bounce right off the bat.

How to solve this problem?

Try to show your pop-ups or ads only after people complete some actions on the page. For example, scroll down the page to the bottom line of your piece of content. It will help you make more conversions.

5. Don’t forget about internal linking

It is strictly important to build bridges on your website that lead from one page to another. Here is where internal linking gets into the game.

To put it simply, internal linking is when you add links to other pages on your website that suggest topic-related content.

This practice is very helpful for SEO and site navigation.

6. Take care of site speed

Nobody likes when the page loads slowly. It is irritating and forces us to leave it without any doubt. Also, it has a direct impact on bounce rate.

So, how to improve site speed and forget about bounces caused by slow-loading pages?

Here are the basic actions you must apply:

  • Use the best DNS provider
  • Use the best hosting
  • Choose a better CDN if your audience is spread all around the world
  • Optimize images
  • Upload the scripts using defer or async attributes
  • Using compression algorithms are important (Brotli or gzip)
  • Combine HTTP with HTTP/2 + server push + optimized resources prioritization and TLS 1.3
  • Reduce the number of plugins
  • Minimize the number of JavaScript and CSS files
  • Implement Gzip compression
  • Reduce redirects

7. Remember, your priority is user experience

User experience has a direct bearing on marketing. And when you launch your website, you count on growing your user database.

Unfortunately, you can never know if your website would be visited by people regularly. And you can’t predict it unless you start communicating with your target audience directly. You must test your users to understand what conditions you should create on your website to be attractive.

Communication with your target audience is just a part of the strategy to improve user experience. Besides, you must analyze user behavior and customer engagement from a technical perspective. You will need to use additional social media management tools like Agorapulse. Such tools work great when it comes to analyzing customer engagement.

Hotjar is a tool that analyzes user behavior via heatmaps. It shows where and what people click on the site.

Hotjar

Plus, don’t forget to spend more time analyzing Google Analytics. It’ll give you useful information regarding user behavior as well.

Conclusion

Seems like this guide has confused you a bit.

Yes, bounce rate is not something you should be obsessed with. It is not as important as other stats and metrics. It has no impact on marketing. But it is the opposite side of user experience.

You can’t improve bounce rate like other SEO metrics. But you can always work on the improvement of user experience. The better user experiences your website has, the fewer bounces it will experience subsequently.

Use the tips and pieces of advice you got reading the post. They will help you a lot.

Written by:

Sergey Aliokhin, a Marketing Manager at Visme.

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