Bounce Rate- A Misleading Metric

If you are like many website and blog owners who use some form of Analytics to track activity on your site, you have probably focused on your bounce rate at one time or another. You might have seen a bounce rate of over 80% and felt like you needed to do something to bring that rate down. You believed, beyond a doubt that a high bounce rate meant that something was wrong with your site. Well I am here to tell you that a high bounce rate is not always a bad thing.

What is Bounce Rate?

Bounce rate is the percentage of people who enter and exit your website from the same page without visiting a second page. In other words it is the percentage of visitors who saw only 1 page of your website. This seems simple enough if you are looking at your bounce rate for your entire website or blog as a whole but if you are looking at the bounce rate for individual pages it can be a little confusing.

For each individual page a bounce rate only applies to visitors who entered your site on that particular page. For example, if you check the bounce rate for your “Contact Us” page you might see a rate 0% if no one entered your site on that page.  If all your visitors enter your site on the home page then that will be the only page with a bounce rate. Other pages will have an exit rate to tell you how many visitors exited your site from any given page. Exit rate and bounce rate are 2 different metrics and you should keep that in mind.

Something else to keep in mind is that depending on the type of site you have a high bounce rate might be a good thing. Let us assume you have a site that provides information. If someone visits your site and finds the information they are looking for on the first page they see and then leaves that will be a bounce but it is a good bounce. The visitor found what they were looking for. Maybe they just wanted your phone number or email and you have that information displayed on every page. This would lead to a higher bounce rate but maybe a good experience for your visitors.

One last thing about bounce rates, in Google Analytics, no duration is recorded for a bounced visitor. A visitor can visit your site, stay on your home page for an hour and then leave and it will be recorded as a bounce and a duration visit of 0 but this still might be a good visit for you. Google Analytics measures duration as the period of time between pages. If only 1 page is visited then there is no duration.

So before you spend too much time worrying about a high bounce rate, give some thought to how your site or blog is designed and whether or not a high bounce rate is necessarily a bad thing for you. I am not saying a high bounce rate is good I am just saying make sure you understand what bounce rate is before you determine whether or not it is important to your site.