Sometimes, Your Audience Just Wants to Party and Bounce: The Meaning of Bounce Rates

Posted by Owen Matson, Ph.D. on March 7
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What's So Wild about those Crazy Bounce Rates? MARKETSCALE_BOUNCE_RATES.png

According to Google analytics guru Avinash Kaushik they are.  Why because bounce rates suggest your visitors simply “came, puked, and then left."  

The bounce rate refers to the percentage of website visitors who click the back button or leave your site without visiting any pages other than the one they first came to.

If a person “bounces” from your site, that doesn’t mean they didn’t read any of your content or look at what was on your page. This is one of the biggest misconceptions about bounce rates. All it means is that the visitor only looked at this one page on your site, and did not go to any others. It’s called a “bounce” only because they probably went back (“bounced”) to the search results, either to see other options or to more narrowly target their query.

 What does does a high bounce rate indicate?   When a page has (or several pages have) a high bounce rate, it simply means that visitors are leaving without visiting other pages of the site.

However, this surface explanation of how a bounce rate is defined really doesn’t tell the whole story. Typically, if a page has a high bounce rate, it means that those visiting it aren’t being engaged by the website in some way—either because they found what they were looking for and their search is done (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), or because they didn’t find what they wanted and are going to try another site instead.


 

 

 Avinash Kaushik discusses bounce rates.


 

HOW TO SET YOUR TARGET BOUNCE RATE

“What should my bounce rates be?”  According to Kissmetrics, the [average] bounce rate is 40%.   Generally speaking, a 50% bounce rate serves as a reasonable standard.  If you surpass 60 percent, you should be concerned. If you're in excess of 80%, you should take a look at making some improvements.  However, all of these averages could be very misleading because a good bounce rate score varies by the type of site, type of page, industry, user intent, and many other factors. The truth is that a “good” bounce rate is different for everyone, and it depends on what kind of site you have, what kinds of users visit it, your own goals for site, and what kind of content you offer.

ONE-PAGE REFERENCE SITES

Consider sites generally designed to provide information on one page.  For example, sites like Wikipedia, Dictionary.com, and WebMD might have bounce rates near 90%. This might sound terrible... but think about how most people use these sites: They enter a query in Google search; click and scan the result for the desired information; then leave (i.e. “bounce) after viewing the necessary page.

 So if Wikipedia finds a page that has a 60% bounce rate, as opposed to a 90%, that might be a sign of a page that is doing an absolutely incredible job of engaging its users and directing them to other articles, because something in the 90% range is probably the norm.

Ultimately, you want your bounce rates to be lower rather than higher, because the longer you can keep a user on your site, the more likely they are to convert and become a customer, buy something, or fill out a form. That’s why you should be aware of what your bounce rates are, and focus your efforts on improving them rather than hoping they’ll eventually get better on their own.

 

ONE WAY TO DETERMINE A TARGET BOUNCE RATE

To establish bounce-rate goals, it's useful to take a look at more general industry statistics provided from companies that have already gathered the data. It's a great way to see how industry bounce rates differ, and what reasons may be behind the changes. I recommend this Hubspot infographic as a good place to start. It shows, for example, that blogs have very high bounce rates – 70 to 98% on average – while service sites have very lower bounce rates – around 10 to 30%. Landing pages have high bounce rates in the 70 to 90% range, while retail sites are around 20 to 40%.

 A high bounce rate can mean that your website is not user-friendly. Most likely, it has a poor design & usability issues or the content is not what the users are looking for. Bounce rate is an important quality indicator for any marketers who aim to maintain high user engagement and drive conversion.

According to Kissmetrics, the [average] bounce rate is 40%.  As a rule of thumb, a 50 percent bounce rate is average. If you surpass 60 percent, you should be concerned. If you're in excess of 80 percent, you've got a major problem. However, this might be a misleading number because a good bounce rate score varies by the type of site, type of page, industry, user intent, and many other factors.

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Topics: Content, Marketing Data, B2B Marketing, B2B Content, Content Strategy

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