Web analytics expert Avinash Kaushik often calls bounce rate “the sexiest web metric ever.”[i]
What is this Metric? Why is it So Sexy?
The bounce rate is “the percentage of sessions on your website with only one page view.”[ii] This means a visitor came to your website, looked at a single page, and then left the site. A bounce can be caused by “clicking on a link to a page on a different website, clicking the “Back” button to leave the site, closing an open window or tab site, typing a new URL, or a session timeout.”[iii]
This sexy metric is “available as a standard metric in pretty much all [web analytics] tools...It measures customer behavior, perhaps the most holy of the holy goals in measurement.”[iv]
What Should My Site’s Bounce Rate Be?
“Typically, a bounce isn’t a positive thing, although that could depend based on your site structure and online marketing goals.”[v] If you have a blog, for example, visitors may look at one page (such as your latest post) and then leave. In this case, having a high bounce rate may not be such a bad thing. On the other hand, if you have an e-commerce site that sells shoes, you want visitors to view different pages (and more shoes) on your site. Therefore, you do not want a high bounce rate. Bearing this in mind, a good bounce rate should generally be between 40 and 60 percent.[vi] Anything higher means changes should be made to your site.
How Can I Improve My Site’s Bounce Rate?
There are several ways to improve your site’s bounce rate. Some possibilities include:
1. Improve your content – Your site should include content that is concise, clear, relevant, and exciting. If it doesn’t, then change it! After all, “shoddy, low-value content leads to high bounce rates and poor website performance overall.”[vii] Remember to edit for grammar and spelling and to incorporate images and/or video, too.
2. Improve site usability – Visitors will quickly leave your site if it’s difficult to navigate. To avoid that:
a. Ensure that search functions are easily visible.[viii]
b. Include labels/tags and appropriate headings so visitors can find the information they want quickly.
c. Don’t overuse images and video.
d. Make hyperlinked text user-friendly.[ix]
3. Eliminate pop-up ads.[x]
4. Decrease use of external links “or have them open in a new window”.[xi]
5. Test your site using a cross-browser capability tool such as Adobe Browserlab or Browser Stack.[xii]
It is important to note that bounce rate is just one metric that should be considered when analyzing your site’s performance. Do not ignore other metrics such as pages per visit or new vs. returning visitors. Those metrics are valuable, telling, and sexy in their own ways.
[v] “10 Google Analytics Terms & Definitions You Need to Know.” November 6, 2011. Zizinya Web Solutions. Available: http://web.zizinya.com/blog/bid/104421/10-Google-Analytics-Terms-Definitions-You-Need-to-Know
[vi] West, Angela. November 15, 2012. “5 Ways to Use Your Bounce Rate to Improve Your Website.”PCWorld. Available: http://www.pcworld.com/article/2013967/5-ways-to-use-your-bounce-rate-to-improve-your-website.html
[vii] Patel, Sujan. February 4, 2013. “Easy Ways to Reduce Your Website’s Bounce Rate.” Search Engine Journal. Available: http://www.searchenginejournal.com/easy-ways-to-reduce-your-websites-bounce-rate/57813/
[ix] “7 Best Practices for Improving Your Website’s Usability.” Mashable. September 12, 2011. Available: http://mashable.com/2011/09/12/website-usability-tips/
[xii] Patel, Sujan. February 4, 2013. “Easy Ways to Reduce Your Website’s Bounce Rate.” Search Engine Journal. Available: http://www.searchenginejournal.com/easy-ways-to-reduce-your-websites-bounce-rate/57813/