In my past life at Advertising.com/Platform-A, I worked with large retailers and big businesses that watched their web analytics religiously. They looked at everything from conversions to keywords and in particular, the bounce rate. My assumption was that most businesses were keeping an eye on what is actually happening, if not daily, at least weekly on their website. But, in speaking with many small to mid-size companies, I discovered that really is not the case.

Your website, in its most basic format, is an intelligent interactive brochure for your business, no matter how a potential customer found you. A semi-social networking conduit. As we all know, analytics is a key part to understanding what is happening with your business and having analytics connected is simple and easy. It astounds me that so many businesses are not looking at data that is right at their fingertips.

Let's start with the home page. If a customer finds your website with a search engine query and they don't stick around that's an issue! This is called a "bounce" - Someone who visited your website and left for an undefined reason. You should try to determine WHY? Bounce Rate measurement determines the visit quality. A high bounce rate generally indicates that an entrance page/home page may be not relevant to the visitor. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bounce_Rate

Is your site content useful enough to capture that visitor and keep them? If not, there could be multiple reasons why.

  1. Poor design - Your site may be poorly designed and not captivating or compelling enough to make them want to stay. You have limited time to get a visitor to take a walk through!

  2. Improper SEO - So a visitor got to your site by using a highly ranked keyword/phrase in a search engine and when they arrive they feel your site was not what they were looking for. Maybe your site messaging and content, title tags, and meta information are optimized with the wrong goal in mind. You need to eliminate the stranglers and focus the page content to hit those searchers meant to make a conversion.

  3. Paid Search - Change your paid search campaign to eliminate those 100% bounce rate terms. Obviously you don't want to overspend and waste money in this economy. Focus on exact match and limit broad terms to improve overall bounce rate.

Bounce rates typically are not determined by length of time spent on the site with Google Analytics. So, if a site visit occurs and that visitor stays on the entry page for 10 minutes and does not go to any other part of the site; That technically is a bounce. Someone that might have come in and stayed on that page for 10 seconds and went to another page will not be categorized as a bounce. http://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=81986

Your business needs to determine why a bounce occurs, and evaluate that rate on a page by page basis and a keyword by keyword basis. You need to direct them from start to finish and provide an easy to use solution for why they entered your site in the first place.

You should also be mindful of the entry points that are driving traffic. If it is a social networking site or link then don't worry about the bounce rate and be thankful that other sources are driving traffic. On the other hand, if you can determine the bounce is coming from a paid search campaign, especially in the content network, you should try to analyze whether that site should be part of your paid strategy.

Last but not least, if you are a business owner, CEO or CMO and you have marketing people on your staff be sure to set monthly site analytics review meeting! You can learn a lot about your business based on what is driving people to your website or in the case of the bounce rate scenario - what's driving them away.





President and Founder Local Roll Call.

Local Roll Call is a search listing provider and consulting firm dedicated to helping businesses get in front of consumers and understand the complexities of the local search landscape. Carberry formed the company after realizing that many businesses large and small don't understand the depth of local search optimization across the search engines and vertical/yellow page directories.

Dave has worked in Search Engine Marketing since 2000 and has worked with organizations ranging in size from small businesses to the Fortune 100. Dave is actively involved in the SEM Community. He speaks regularly at various search marketing and online focused conferences and is a member of SEMPO and the IAB.

A recognized expert and educator in online marketing, pay-per-click advertising, search optimization and local search. Prior to starting Local Roll Call Dave was Director of Feed Management and Search at Advertising.com and Platform-A, delivering new opportunities to clients on an ongoing basis with Consumer Shopping Engines, Paid Inclusion Programs and Cross Channel Feed dispersion.

Dave also served as Vice President of Sales and Marketing for The G3 Group. Dave has launched several successful start-up business ventures during his career, including WJFK-AM, Targetware.com and InstantPosition.com.  He and his two children have also written and self published two children's travel books. Where Was I? New York and Where Was I? Washington D.C.






Comments(9)

This is a great reminder - thanks! Is the standard/average bounce rate still considered to be around 40%? I know this varies greatly depending on how you're driving traffic to the site and where those traffic sources originate, as you mention. A site with a PPC campaign would likely have a higher bounce rate, for instance, than a site that generates most traffic from careful link building campaigns or off-line marketing campaigns. But it's always interesting to hear what everyone thinks from an industry standpoint!

Thanks for the interesting slant on bounce rates. Never thought about it from that point of view.

Just a thought, but according to the Google page on this (your link above) they suggest targetting landing pages to specific keywords ("You can minimize bounce rates by tailoring landing pages to each keyword").

Surely though, if you do a really good job such that the visitor finds exactly what they were looking for on the landing page, your bounce rate will actually increase, not decrease.

Our new site has been online since March 9th, 2009. We have a bounce rate for the site of 0.60% while averaging 60K pageviews per month. The greatest contributing factors to the success of our site are Content and a highly Targeted Market. People come to our site for information and they find it easily. We will be taking our Shopping Cart online soon and it will be interesting to watch the analytics change when that occurs.

You are right about looking at individual pages. In doing so it is easy to see why bounce rates are high on some while most are 0%. Our highest individual page bounce rate is 47% and that is a page from our old site that you get to via a link on the new site. Most of our pages are content rich but the other pages with higher individual bounce rates are the pages with little content or content that doesn't encourage further activity. You can view the site at www.standoffsystems.com

People find us through our print ads, online directories and search engines only. We have no PPC campaigns.

www.flowers.org.uk has a bounce rate of around 40% for some pages, but the important thing is to see that in context of the site itself.

Our site has lots of pages of information, factsheets, charts etc on flowers and plants. People search to find out how to look after their yucca - they find the page, they go away again. Job done.

Florists bookmark our page listing botanic names for flowers and the common names for them; they reference the page when answering a customer enquiry, then they close it down.

Bounce rates in themselves mean nothing; it's whether people should be navigating through the site from that page or whether it's fine for them to log in, check a fact, and log off.

Thanks for the info. I am a newcomer to Google analytics and website development and initially got quite a shock when I saw the high bounce rates we were getting. Its reassuring to know that these are not necessarily all negative scores.

Some good points in the article. I would be weary of saying overall just ignore link traffic from social media etc. For many business this is a viable source of income and should not be ignored. Perhaps test a different landing page or experience for this individuals when you can control it.

Also, often for many business a cause of bounce that gets left out is your Google Analytics structure.

Landing pages and overall pages for many business have links that either take people to another site, or even a different domain that they own. By default in Google Analytics if this is an entrance visit and they click on one of these links it will consider it a bounce. You can overcome this with using an onclick event calling the pageTracker function, and then creating a page that will be triggered when they click these links. Also, if you use multiple domains make sure Google Analytics is configured to see them interlinked together and not separate sites.

Corey

Corey,

Very interesting points.

You wrote:

"You can overcome this with using an onclick event calling the pageTracker function, and then creating a page that will be triggered when they click these links."

Can you point us to any documentation on how to implement this function?

Also, if you use multiple domains make sure Google Analytics is configured to see them interlinked together and not separate sites.

How do you configure Analytics to do so?

Thanks.

@Diego

Here is a link explaining some tracking on outbound links: http://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=55527. I just made an automated script that tags outbound links and file downloads.

Also, for the multiple domains, google has recently changed when you create an account how it generates code which does a nice job. You can also consult this for pointers: http://www.google.com/support/analytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=55503

Comments closed after 30 days to combat spam.


Search Engine Guide > David Carberry > Bounce Rates and What They Mean To Your Business