Bounce rate is one of those analytics metrics that is almost always misunderstood in the blogging community. And it is no surprise why. The way Google Analytics (and most likely other analytics platforms) calculate bounce rate is not what you think.
According to Google,
Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page sessions.
That is definitely not what I would classify as a “bounce.” I think it is way more complex than that.
So what classifies as a bounce?
There are a few ways people can “bounce” from your site:
- They accidentally clicked on a link to your site and clicked right back to their original page because they were in the middle of reading/watching/etc.
- Your site is having usability issues or is not easy to navigate and they don’t want to deal with it so they leave
- They clicked over to your site but the information is not exactly what they are looking for so they click back
- While reading your post, they click on a link to another blog/product/etc. and that link opens in the same window
- They found EXACTLY what they were looking for, they read the entire blog post and didn’t need any more information so they exit out
Reading an entire blog post and getting exactly what they need is definitely a good in my book. But that doesn’t register that way in Google Analytics. It registers as a bounce.
What is the average bounce rate?
This is a common question because you want to know if your bounce rate is in a normal or good range. The truth is, bounce rate varies by industry and type of site.
According to Kissmetrics,
The average bounce rate is 40.5%, but for content websites the average bounce rate is 40-60%.
I would suspect that the bounce rate for most blogs is probably even a bit higher than that.
Is a high bounce rate bad?
Not always. Think about it, not every website or webpage needs a reader to go beyond one page.
For example, say you are promoting a pin on Pinterest that leads to a sales page on your site. That sales page is probably laser focused and there isn’t much else going on besides focusing on that product or service. Your main goal is for the reader to convert by entering their contact information or clicking to purchase which takes the reader to another site like PayPal. So technically Google Analytics counts this as a bounce, but if they converted who cares right?Is a high bounce rate bad? Not necessarily... Click To Tweet
But wait, isn’t a high bounce rate bad for SEO?
Yes and no. A high bounce rate itself does not necessarily have a negative effect on your SEO efforts.
What does have a negative effect is something called “pogo sticking.” This happens when a user performs a search, clicks on a result, and then almost immediately (within the first five seconds) clicks back to return to the search engine results pages (or SERP). This is a signal to Google that your page isn’t of high quality or relevancy for that keyword or keyword phrase. If it was, the user would have stuck around.
Making Sense of Bounce Rate
While bounce rate isn’t exactly a telling metric on its own, it can still be useful. Look at the average session duration and bounce rate together.
If a page has a high bounce rate but readers are spending an average of 5 minutes on that page, most likely they are getting the information they need.
However, if a page has a high bounce rate and readers are spending a few seconds on your page then you know you have a problem.
You can drill that down not only to see how pages are performing but also how social media channels are performing. It can help you decide which channels are sending the most qualified traffic and which channels might not be worth your effort.
How to Improve Bounce Rate
If you go through your analytics and decide you do have some trouble pages, there are some things you can do to hopefully improve your bounce rate.
- Create great and easy to read content
- Use a read more button on your home and archive pages rather than showing the whole post
- Have a related post section below your posts
- List your categories or top posts in your sidebar
- Link to your own posts within your posts and have them open in the same window
- When linking to other sites, have the links open in a new window
- Have clear navigation
- Optimize for relevant terms, don’t optimize for unrelated terms just because you can rank (this will probably result in pogo sticking)
Bounce rate is commonly misunderstood. It is a metric that is stressed over way too much. Remember bounce rate itself is pretty much useless. It should never be your primary focus. Use it to find and fix trouble pages and to inform decisions on your marketing efforts.I FINALLY understand bounce rate. And you can too! Click To Tweet
What is one thing you learned about bounce rate?