What Is Bounce Rate? Why It’s Important: Marketing 101

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Phil Hughes

Let’s start by talking about what bounce rate is. And that it relates to your website analytics.

To give a “textbook” answer.

Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that leave a website after viewing one, single page on that website.

So why is it important?

Well, the way I view marketing. Is that everything is part of a funnel.

A page on your website will be part of a funnel if people are leaving a webpage in their droves. Then very few people will be reaching the bottom of the funnel.

This is where the magic happens.

Understanding Bounce Rate

So, I’ve already given a quick introduction to define what Bounce Rate is.

Let me give you Google’s definition. Then. I’ll give you how I understand it

“A bounce is a single-page session on your site. In Analytics, a bounce is calculated specifically as a session that triggers only a single request to the Analytics server, such as when a user opens a single page on your site and then exits without triggering any other requests to the Analytics server during that session.

Bounce rate is single-page sessions divided by all sessions, or the percentage of all sessions on your site in which users viewed only a single page and triggered only a single request to the Analytics server.”

Clear as mud?

Let’s run through a quick example.

You’ve got a blog post, like this one. And 50 people find and view that blog post over 30 days.

Let’s say 45 of those people read the post, and then leave your website.

For the remaining 5 click the link at the bottom of the post that takes them to the About page of your website.

To calculate bounce rate. You divide the number of people that left the page, by total views. Multiply it by 100

So for us, it’s: 45 divide by 50, multiply by 100 = 90%

Our bounce rate is 90%. That’s not great.

Different Between ‘Bounce’ and ‘Exit’

This is a relation between bounce and exit, but they aren’t the same.

We now know that if someone visits a blog post, and then leaves. this page is included in the bounce rate. The blog post is also the exit page.

But, given our earlier example. If someone visits the About page after reading the blog post. Then leaves your website, the About page is the exit page.

Why Bounce Rate Matters

Let’s start this section by talking about ‘the elephant in the room’, Google.

If you are focusing on SEO. And are trying to get posts and articles to rank higher and higher in search results. Not only on Google but on other search engines too.

Having a high bounce rate will affect how high a page will appear.

Google will reward you for good engaging content by moving it up the rankings. And show it to more people.

But if people leave after a single visit. Google will start “punishing” that content and start showing it to fewer and fewer people.

That may not seem fair. That’s how it is.

User Engagement and Content Relevance

It’s soul-destroying to find out that a piece of content. That you’ve sweated over, and drawn blood over has a high bounce rate.

But it can be a good thing.

You can use it as a baseline. Allowing you to focus on improving both user engagement and content relevance.

Engagement

Bounce rate is a great way to see if your content is engaging people.

If people are visiting an article, read it to the end. And then click your call to action or visit another page on your site. You’ve got their attention.

This is pure gold.

I’m not going to go into tactics on how to do this. It could be a case of testing different CTA’s out.

What’s key is to track a page’s bounce rate and try to drop the number month on month.

Relevance

I heard a story from a top marketing agency in the US.

They used WordPress for a lot of their customers and could help people rank on Google, fast.

To get more clients, they tested creating content around WordPress. Discussing things like plugins and themes.

They started getting a lot of views on their WordPress content.

But their bounce rate skyrocketed.

That’s because the content wasn’t directly related to their products and services. The people reading their content wanted to find out more about WordPress. They didn’t care about getting help with their marketing.

So there was a relevance gap.

You need to make sure that the content you’re creating is relevant. It ties in with the goal of your website.

Analyzing and Interpreting Your Bounce Rate

What is considered a good bounce rate?

Now, I could start spouting ‘industry standards’. Or what Google recommends.

But that is useless.

You could think, great the bounce rate across my website is better than the average. This will make you take your foot off the gas.

Or, you could be way above the average. This will only dishearten you and could stop you from looking at the number altogether.

A ‘good’ bounce rate is one that is better than your last baseline reading.

That’s it.

Going back to our example. If you go from a 90% bounce rate to an 80% bounce rate. That is amazing. Great work. You’ve been able to reduce the number of people leaving your website after visiting a single page.

You can now reset the baseline to 80% and see if you can improve on this again

Tracking Bounce Rate

Website tracking like Google Analytics is OK at showing bounce rate figures. But they aren’t great at showing if the number is getting better, or worse.

That is why tools like Elementary Analytics are so useful.

They will compare current bounce rate numbers with previous period data. And show you if the number is improving or not.

You need to know this number as fast as possible.

Your time is better spent, focusing on improving the number. Not to spend out getting the data and then trying to make sense of it.

Conclusion

So, to recap. Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that leave a website after viewing one, single page on that website.

It’s a key metric to track to review website performance. And it’s a good guide to see if your overall marketing strategy is sound.

You should track bounce rate numbers on a regular basis, and reset baselines every few months.

A focus on lowering bounce rate. Will show that you are producing relevant and engaging content.

There are plenty of tools out there that can help you track your bounce rate numbers.

Oh, one more thing. If you want to see how bounce rate fits into a more rounded data-driven marketing strategy. Check out our guide on Data-Driven Marketing and Marketing Analytics.

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