A client recently asked me if their 50%+ bounce rate was concerning and if they should make efforts to optimize it. Whether bounce rate is important to optimize for is a very good question and a surprisingly tricky one to answer.
Everyone’s situation will be different based on the type of content they provide and their end goals. I’ll discuss bounce rate considerations and what bounce rate may be right for your type of content, after a quick overview to ensure we’re all on the same page…
What’s Bounce Rate?
Bounce rate is a metric used to determine how many visitors of your website only view a single page then leave without clicking through to any additional pages. You can find this metric in Google Analytics by going to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages and looking at the bounce rate shown in the table for each individual url.
How Bounce Rate is Calculated
Bounce rate is calculated as:
(Visits to your website which result in only one page viewed) / (total visits to your website)
Something to note is that this number will virtually never include people who go to visit your website, but leave before the page loads. If you have a slow-loading website this could account for a significant number of people. The reason these visits aren’t included in the calculation usually is because if they’re visiting prior to your page loading, the analytics or tracking codes you use likely haven’t registered their visit yet and so they aren’t included in the visit count.
Is a High Bounce Rate Bad?
There are two main factors to consider here. The first is the user experience of visitors to your site and the second is the potential effect of this on search engine rankings on Google, Bing, etc.
From a user perspective, it’s hard to say because there are two scenarios. If the visitor lands on an appropriate page and that page contains all of the information they need, then they very well may bounce after looking at that page, but it’s because there was no need for them to go to another page. On the other hand, if they visit a page and don’t see what they want, and don’t see a link to another page with content they want, then they’ll also bounce. The tricky part is determining which of those fits most scenarios.
On the SEO front, Google has said that they don’t use it as a ranking factor (their phrasing is usually very specific here so some SEOs think they may be intentionally concealing something), but independent SEOs have done studies that seem to show otherwise. I would bet they do use it in some form, but it may be in the way they model out new algorithms versus applying it to active search results, or only on certain types of queries, or something like that.
So What Bounce Rate is Good?
The answer varies from one type of content to the next. If for example you run a lot of ads to landing pages, then you’re going to have a very high 80%+ bounce rate and there’s nothing wrong with that. If on the other hand, you run a content site which is trying to drive content visitors to convert on another page’s offer, then you’ll likely want as low a bounce rate as possible and will be aiming for <30%.
In general, a 50%+ bounce rate isn’t good, but it shouldn’t ring any alarms and it isn’t out of the ordinary. It seems bad when you think about it, but there are a lot of people out there clicking around and for most items purchased or inquired about online a lot of people need to repeatedly visit the site before they commit. Don’t be surprised if you see bounce rates increase when more people are working from home or on the weekend.
Should You Optimize for Bounce Rate?
Bounce rate may highlight some content gaps on specific pages so in some instances you should be trying to improve things. For the most part, however, I would recommend you focus on other metrics that are important to your website’s success.
Since the end-goal for most online marketing is conversions, the main metric I’d be looking at is conversion rate and that could be compared against bounce rates. If both are low then it might be a red flag. Within analytics you can go to:
- Behavior on the left hand side
- Site Content
- Landing Pages
That page will show the bounce rate and eventual conversion rate for visitors to each initial landing page. You may see some trends pop up with low bounce rate and conversion rate pages. Then you can compare their content to pages that have better metrics for those to see if anything is missing.
Why is my Bounce Rate so High?
There are many reasons you may have a high bounce rate. These can include:
- The page visitors land on doesn’t seem to be relevant. Usually, people search with a goal in mind so if your ads point to an irrelevant page, or your page shows images of an irrelevant item at the top then that person may leave immediately. Make sure your pages are immediately relevant for the target audience.
- Gaps in the content on your page – I.e. everyone wants to know what accessories you can get for blue widgets, but you don’t provide that. If you don’t give people a bit of information they may leave and not dig deeper into your site.
- You run ads to landing pages – This is a situation where a 100% bounce rate is no issue since landing pages are typically only a single page and therefore do not allow for visitors to click elsewhere on the site
- There’s a lack of internal links to other relevant content. If you want to lower your bounce rate then you need to give people other related page links that they want to visit.
I hope this has helped explain bounce rate and answered what bounce rate is good for your website.
If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below and I hope you have a great day!