Clients often ask “what is a good bounce rate?”, and as with many areas of marketing there isn’t one answer. Although frustrating it’s true because the main thing to consider when it comes to Bounce Rate is context.
More on context later, for now let’s take a look at the definition of Bounce Rate from Google Analytics:
‘Bounce rate is the percentage of visits in which users view only a single page of your site’
This means that a user clicks through to your site and leaves without visiting any other pages. A ‘bounce’ can be attributed to a number of scenarios, for example if a visitor clicks the back button to the preceding page, types in and visits a new URL, or if they closed the tab or browser altogether or timed-out after 30 minutes of inactivity.
Visible in the Audience, Acquisition, and Behaviour Overview sections in Google Analytics Bounce Rate is a common metric that you will see as you navigate your way around the various reporting areas.
Why consider Bounce Rate?
The Bounce Rate metric is extremely valuable as it helps to illustrate how useful visitors find your website. By looking at user behaviour once they have reached a page on your site you can determine whether the content is performing as expected or even if you are attracting the right audience altogether. However this is where context comes into play.
Typically you will hear an overall benchmark for Bounce Rate of 40-60%, although this should be taken with a pinch of salt. Performance will vary significantly whether this be by industry, the type of site, page content and so on.
Take the image below for example, as you will see Bounce Rate for this particular site ranges from 88.89% right down to 22.22%.
Some associate a high bounce rate with a negative user experience or even attracting the wrong audience altogether (and sadly for some this may be the case). However there are a number of scenarios where a high bounce rate is to be expected, such as contact us pages and blog posts. In these instances users are looking for specific information, for example a phone number, or to read up on a certain topic. With their initial objectives achieved it’s no wonder most choose to leave.
When assessing the Bounce Rate of a particular page firstly I would recommend understanding the visitors needs and consider the goal for that page or where it sits within the customer lifecycle. You can then go on to make informed decisions about the content of the page in question, as well as any marketing activity encouraging a visit that page.
Tip: Segment your data to get a clearer view of Bounce Rate
By segmenting data you can get a more accurate view of user behaviour, here’s three useful segments to get you going:
It’s well known that users behave differently depending on device. Those on a smartphone are characteristically busy so Bounce Rate is likely to be higher when compared to those on a tablet, laptop or desktop. Once an immediate need for information is fulfilled a bounce is to be expected.
Although I expect this to change as people become more and more familiar with smartphones and tablets and more websites invest in a mobile optimised responsive design.
There can be a surprising difference in Bounce Rate by medium. Those visiting from a paid search ad may view multiple pages whereas those visiting from social media may only view a single page and leave. In this case the paid ad may have fulfilled a particular need (e.g. a retailer selling cycling shorts) from which the visitor viewed multiple product pages. Whereas the visitor via social media may have seen a tweet with a blog post about ‘The benefits of padded cycling shorts‘ fulfilling an interest in cycling-wear this user would then ‘bounce’ from the page.
New vs Returning
As a (willing) victim of the digital age I am fairly time-poor, and so are a lot of other online users. In terms of Bounce Rate this means that as a new visitor to a site I am more likely to leave after viewing one page than when returning to that site – especially if initially visiting via a smartphone. Returning visitors in general have in mind what they’re coming back for and will have allocated time to browsing.
All-in-all it is well worth taking the time to analyse Bounce Rate alongside the many other useful Google Analytics metrics to get a comprehensive view of website performance.
If you want to know more about Bounce Rate I highly recommend this video from Google Analytics pro Avinash Kaushik, in which he describes Bounce Rate as “the sexiest metric ever”.
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