What is Bounce Rate in Google Analytics and How Can You Improve it?
Running a small online business means having to wear many hats. We often have to master many different aspects of entrepreneurship in order to keep a web business afloat. Learning to understand metrics and statistics (ie. Google bounce rate) that pertain to a website is one of the most important skills we need to be well versed in so that we can achieve the best rankings and the greatest online presence possible.
What is Bounce Rate in Google Analytics?
When venturing into our Google Analytics account, one of the basic metrics we encounter is the bounce rate. This is a metric that denotes the percentage of people that arrive at a website only to do nothing after that. These users don’t click on any of the links, they don’t attempt to read any of your other articles. The second these visitors land on your page is the moment their visit ends since they do not interact with any of your content.
In other words, think of a brick-and-mortar store. A visitor that “bounces” is one that steps into the store, stares at the back wall and then turns around and leaves. They don’t even say “hello.”
How are Bounce Rates Measured by Google?
Google Analytics calculates the rate at which users bounce by taking the number of single-session users and dividing it by the total number of sessions our page receives and expressing it as a percentage.
Google defines a session as a set of interactions that one user takes within a specified time-frame on a website. This time-frame for Google is 30 minutes, which means that the total number of sessions a single user racks up is dependent on the number of pages browsed, downloads initiated or products purchased before they leave the website.
Why Are Bounce Rates Important?
Search engines rank websites based on how relevant and useful users find the content they encounter. Google’s business model is based on presenting the best possible content to its search engine’s users but it doesn’t have the ability to have its employees physically go through each and every page on the web and conduct manual rankings. Even if Google could do that, having a staff with a diverse interest profile to be able to rank every single website in every single online niche would be an impossible task. So, Google does something even better.
Metrics such as how long users spend on a website, how many pages they flip through on that site and how they interact, in general, with the content determine ranking position. If users are coming to our website and leaving upon arrival, this is a sign to Google that we’re not offering content that is relevant or helpful to our target audience. Therefore, the lower our website’s bounce rate, the more Google thinks that users appreciate our website and the higher it will push us in the rankings.
What Are Exit Rates and How Do They Differ from Bounce Rates?
An exit rate is the percentage of users that exit our website from a specific page. The difference here is that we are not concerned whether the visitor is a single-session visitor or whether they have visited other pages on our site. Exit rate is a way of pinpointing which pages on our site are last stops for our visitors before they leave.
Again, let’s look at an offline example. A shopping mall has many exits from which customers can depart. By knowing what percentage of visitors use each exit, the mall owners can base decisions on which stores or other facilities they place at specific parts of the building. They can also look at possible things they can do near these specific exits that may cause visitors to stay longer or be offered a reason to come back soon.
Is There Such Thing as a Good Bounce Rate?
In general, the answer is no. It really depends on the type of website we run, its purpose and what the audience is looking for. Ultimately, our website will be ranked in comparison to other sites in our niche and we will need to compare our online business’s web presence with others that have the same aim.
Retail and service websites generally have lower bounce rates than blogs or landing pages. Visitors of a retail website are there with the intent to make a purchase and they will likely complete a few sessions in their quest to learn more about a product or to go through with buying it. Even if they don’t end up buying, visitors are still very likely to look around. With a blog, visitors are there to read a specific article and may not feel the need to consume content across the site.
Having said that, if we want to objectively state whether there is such a thing as a good bounce percentage, the answer would be that any rate better than our competition’s is a good one. Ultimately, our website is being ranked in comparison to other players in our niche.
Why Do I Have High Bounce Rates?
There are three reasons as to why our bounce rates can be high.
- Our visitors find the information they were searching for and do not feel the need to venture further into our website. This may not necessarily be bad, as long as we can tailor our content in a way that will give us a leg up on our competition.
- We have low-quality content that visitors do not care to interact with.
- We are broadcasting our message to the wrong target market.
How Do I Improve my Bounce Rates?
Having an effective content strategy is the best way to reduce bounce rates immediately. By making other related content easily accessible to our visitors, we increase the chance that they will want to click-through to other articles or products our site contains.
Working on implementing strong calls-to-action that grab our visitor’s attention makes it virtually impossible for them to leave without checking out more of what you have to offer. Offering free or exclusive content is certain to keep users engaged and interested.
Finally, different parts of our online business’s website will have different bounce rates. We should deal with each case on an individual basis. If a user lands directly on an order page where they are prompted to complete a purchase, we should focus on how we can improve the conversion rate. If they land on a blog post, we can have offer related articles that visitors would derive value from and present them in key spots of our post.