Do you know your Bounce Rate?

Most website owners are aware that site usage statistics are a valuable source of information about how their site visitors access and use their site.  However, many never seem to find the time to review these statistics, or are bewildered by the sheer volume of data available.

One of the obvious things site owners will look at when reviewing their site stats is the number of visitors they get, but there are many other figures that can provide very useful insights into user behaviour.

Recently a client asked me what a "good bounce rate" should be, and in considering my response, I realised that Bounce Rate in particular was one statistic that site owners don't really "get" – which is a great shame because it can be a very useful statistic.

This post therefore focuses on the Bounce Rate  – explains what it represents, how it should be interpreted, and how it can be used to help increase the effectiveness of your site by improving your conversion rates.

What is a Bounce Rate?

Google defines a bounce rate as – "the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page" – that is, the percentage of visitors that only look at a single page on your site before leaving. So, the higher your bounce rate, the fewer visitors are actually spending time on your site.

A high bounce rate suggests that the first page your visitors see is not relevant to them – there is nothing on these pages to encourage them to look further into the site.   A low bounce rate indicates that visitors are interested, look at multiple pages and stay longer on your site, and generally speaking the longer visitors stay, the more likely they are to convert (buy a product or make an inquiry).

A bounce rate provides an indication of "quality" of a page, and it is quite possible that the search engines make take this statistic into account as one of the factors influencing search rankings. Also be aware that bounce rate applies to a particular page and that each page on your site could have a different bounce rate.

What is a Good Bounce Rate?

A good bounce rate is a bit harder to define, because it will really depend on the nature of your site and the niche you are in.  It will also depend on which page you are looking at. A high bounce rate on a contact page may be OK, because it suggests that the visitor was looking for your contact details and may be phoning or emailing you, i.e. they found what they were looking for.  However, a high bounce rate on your home page (or even worse your most important product pages) is much more of a concern because it indicates that people are not interested in this page, are being turned away by what they see, or are not being encouraged to click further into your site.

We typically see bounce rates of between 50% and 70%, but some of our clients (mostly in niche areas) are achieving bounce rates of 20% or less.

Why would I want a better Bounce Rate?

Bounce rate is an indication of page quality. A higher number of pages on your site with low bounce rates means that users are spending longer on your site – and are therefore significantly more likely to convert. Reducing bounce rate is a Conversion Optimisation strategy, and can ultimately be a much more efficient way to boost sales and inquiries on your site than traditional SEO techniques.

How can I improve my Bounce Rate?

In general terms you should be trying to achieve as low a bounce rate as possible. We recommend that you start off by examining the bounce rate of your key pages such as your home page, landing pages for PPC campaigns, and pages associated with conversions (inquiry form, product pages, etc).

Take a close look at these pages from a users perspective – do they provide the information or functionality that a user would want or expect?

The source of the traffic to your high bounce rate pages should also be examined.  You would normally expect a lower bounce rate for direct traffic than you would for search traffic. A very high bounce rate for search traffic may indicate that the page is ranking for keyword phrases that are not properly addressed on that page.  With a little manipulation of Google Analytics, you can determine which keywords are resulting in higher bounce rates for a particular page (if you're unsure on how to do this, contact us and we can help you to analyse your usage stats).  

If you are running a PPC campaign you should take a very close look at the bounce rate of your Ad landing pages – if these are getting a  high bounce rate, not only are you wasting money on click costs, but your Cost per Click is also likely to be high because of a low quality score.

In this post we've really only had a chance to scratch the surface on the information available to you through your site usage statistics, or techniques that will help you to improve conversions of your site.  If you'd like to find out more about Web Analytics or Conversion Optimisation, please feel free to contact us.

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