What is a bounce rate, how do I calculate it and why does it matter?
There is no shortage of articles and other resources online that talk about bounce rate and how important and scared you should be of it, but truth be told, the majority of people actually have no idea what it is or why it’s important, and I get questions all the time about how to decrease your bounce rate, so much that I finally decided to break down and go into it in-depth.
What it all boils down to is this. What bounce rate is the amount of people who come to your website and land on a certain page without viewing any other pages of the site other than the one that they first landed on. So they come to your website, read a page, and then leave and never think about your site again.
Say you have a webpage about baking and share some recipes on it. Your site somehow makes it to the top 10 search results on Google since you’ve been following good SEO practices. A Google user searches for baking tips, finds an article you wrote about tips and reads it. This particular page about baking tips becomes their entry point to your website. But then say that they have no interest in any of your recipes or any of the other content on your site, and they click away to find some other tips, or they spill a soda on their computer and it shuts off while they’re viewing your page. Their act of leaving your page without seeing any other pages is known as a single “bounce.”
Then if you want to find the bounce rate, all you have to do is take the number of bounces and compare them to the overall traffic your site had in a given period of time. Say you have 1,000 visitors to your baking tips page in one month. 600 of those readers left immediately after reading the post about baking tips, while the remaining 400 continued to other pages within your site. You would need to take the total number of bounces (600) and divide it by the total number of visitors (1000). This will give you 0.6, or a bounce rate of 60%.
So when should your bounce rate number really start to concern you? It all depends on the type of content you’re putting out, be it a blog or something more like a retail site. In general, you’re going to want to try to keep your bounce rate at below 60%, and anything above that may be something to start worrying about. Anywhere below 50% is just fine, and the “dream” so to speak is something below 10%.
It’s really important to mention here, however, that you shouldn’t obsess and lose sleep at night over something like average statistics. Not everyone is going to be the same when it comes to this measurement. If you are able to make a few corrections and took your bounce rate down from 90% down to 70%, that’s a huge accomplishment and definitely worth celebrating.
There is certain types of content that just naturally have a high bounce rate by default, and there’s nothing that can be done about it. Something like a thank-you page that doesn’t route to anywhere else on your site is a good example of this. Online dictionaries and thesauruses are also another big one, since people tend to only need to look up one word at a time and won’t stick around to find out what other words they might be missing out on. To get a better idea of what your bounce rate should be, take a look at the graphic below.
But why do you need to work on your bounce rate at all? Who cares? Well, you should. If you have a high bounce rate, in return you’ll also tend to have a community with very unhappy users because they’re not being engaged and given the content that they were expecting when they signed up. If the bounce rate is low, you’re doing something right, but if it’s high then you have a few things that may need to be worked on. A high bounce rate is also incredibly bad for your SEO, leading to greatly reduced traffic to your site overall because nobody will be able to find it. Part of the way Google works is by moving sites with high bounce rates further down the search list. You aren’t providing valuable, high-quality content at a good rate and have a high bounce rate, so Google assumes you shouldn’t be as high on the list as you might be.
So how do you decrease your bounce rate? Well, one thing that will help decrease your bounce rate is by doing a little research into exactly who your readers are. Maybe your site is being access by a lot of mobile users, but your blog isn’t optimized for mobile users. Or maybe you’re attracting the wrong audience and not marketing toward them at all. Products like Google Analytics can help you to do this research and make it very easy to find out many aspects of your audience.
Improving the navigation of your site as well as the overall speed can also be factors. People don’t want to have to wait for a website to load when they could just click a different search result and be taken to a different site.
One of the biggest factors though is your content, it may be stale or completely un-edited and riddled with errors. You can have a stunning website but if your content isn’t good, nobody is going to want to check your site out more than once.
If all of these things fail, the most surefire way is an all-out site overhaul and redesign, and if you can afford it you may even think about hiring someone to profess ally set it up for you and edit your posts if they need a little work.
At the end of the day, by following these few easy tips, you can easily decrease your bounce rate in a number of ways. It’s all about providing the best content you’re able to on a consistent basis. Make every post and design every page with your bounce rate in mind, because for a lot of people, one page may be the only one that they ever see of your site.