What’s a Bounce Rate and How to Improve It

Website Bounce RateYou may have heard a person use the term ‘bounce’ to say that they were leaving. A website bounce is very similar.  It is when a visitor views your website and immediately leaves without clicking on any pages. They usually get directed to your site through a search engine or a referral website. If you have Google Analytics added to your site, it makes it easy to see what your bounce rate is. While the average bounce rate depends on the industry and type of website, it normally ranges between 40-50%. Usually, anything over a 60% bounce rate is a bad thing. Keep in mind, this does not just mean people landing on your homepage, but on any page in your site.

Bounce Rate Summary

Bounce Rate Summary as seen in Google Analytics

Bounce Rate Details

Bounce Rate Details from Google Analytics

Positive Reasons for Bounce Rates

Positive BouncesWhile you can never have a 0% bounce rate, here are a few positive reasons people bounce:

1- Contact Information – some people are simply looking for a phone number, email address, hours of operation or a physical address on your website. If this information is listed on the first page they see, you have successfully given the viewer the information they were looking for. They would, most likely, otherwise already be familiar with your business and there is no reason for them to click on additional pages.

2- Product or Informational Pages – Some links are specifically directed toward a product or resource on your site. Search engines usually point directly to the page a person was using search terms for. Other websites may link to a certain page on your website to give their viewer more detailed information. This would mean many people would leave your site after viewing this content and return to the original website. This not only gives a link to your site, but also shows you are a credible source for that information.

3. Blogs – There are many websites that post articles on a very regular basis. If viewers can read the new material on the first page, they are likely to leave afterwards since it is probable that they have read other pages or posts previously.

Negative Reason for Bounce Rates

Negative Bounces

Having a bounce rate of over 60% should be concerning for you. This usually means that visitors are seeing something that elicits a bad reaction and causes them to leave.

1- Spelling & Grammar – Most of us are not English majors who always use proper grammar when writing; I know I am one of these people, but I can easily spot if someone uses ‘there’ instead of ‘their’, or ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re’. Making these simple mistakes along with others can reduce your business reputation and credibility. Always take the time to proof, and if possible, have someone else proof your blog articles or pages for you before publishing (a big thanks to Randi for proofing mine).

2- Out of Date Material – We have talked many times about content before. One of my biggest issues with websites is very old copyright dates*. I looked at a website today that I would estimate cost in the five digit range originally and the copyright was from 2008. For me, that means the content is also most likely out of date. Having content that has not been updated for many years or other inaccurate information is also very damaging to your reputation as a credible source.

*There is a simple bit of code that can be added to most websites that updates your site automatically every year, so there’s really no reason dates on your website shouldn’t be accurate.

3- Poor Navigation or Layout – I am sure we have all clicked on a link before and have seen the “Page Not Found” error, or such a complex navigation of pages that you cannot find what you are looking for. A good rule of thumb is to make every page accessible by two clicks. This can be accomplished by drop down menus, listing subpages in a sidebar, or having a site index. It’s our “two click rule” and we stick to it whenever possible.

4- Multiple Ads or Music/Video – If there are so many paid ads on a website that it is hard to find the content, or if the ads are animated and distracting, a visitor is almost sure to leave. The same goes for music and videos that start automatically. Let the user decide if they want to listen or see the media, do not force them.

Consistently checking your bounce rate and viewing your most popular pages will help you to know if there is a problem. Want to get help with this? Check out our Monthly Maintenance Packages and let us monitor and make any necessary changes for you.

This post was written by Brandon on December 17, 2012

The boss of all things CSS, he taught himself web design when GeoCities was popular. He is also pretty handy with Photoshop when needed. Contact him at: brandon@gowebsolutions.com or on Google+

10 Responses to “What’s a Bounce Rate and How to Improve It”

  1. Pete says:

    The 2nd point “Product or Informational Pages” could be a bad one: If your visitor leave the page after viewing the product you haven’t sold something. That’s bad for the bounce- and conversion rate 😉

  2. Joey Ambrose says:

    Good point, Pete.

  3. Hi, I am working on bounce rate issues these days and I want to thank you for the good summary. I was also wondering how can one summarize the effect of ones online marketing strategy on this subject. For instance, if one attracts traffic to his website through SEO, but this traffic is not relevant to one’s site. There are a lot of other sources of traffic in a web marketing campaign such as social media marketing, inbound marketing and so on. I would appreciate any thoughts on that.

  4. A very well written article. I didn’t have much idea about bounce rates. This article has explained it in very simple terms. I was looking for information regarding the same for the sake of my project. Glad i found your post. Thanks for such an informative article.

  5. Joey Ambrose says:

    Thanks for the comment Jacques. Bounce rates will help you with on your path to conversions, which for us is the real number to watch.

  6. Lea Bordeaux says:

    I am working on bounce rates, but as I am new to this field, I don’t have much knowledge about the same. I read your summary and found it to be very useful. One problem that I face very commonly is there is a lot of irrelevant traffic and some provide links to nonsense sites. I am very much worried about this and want to find a way out. Can anybody please help me out? Your help is greatly appreciated.

  7. Isabelle says:

    I too have the same doubt as Jacques. My website is attracting a lot of irrelevant traffic which is difficult to manage. It wold be nice if anyone could help me out in this. I started working on bounce rates of late and appreciate this article which has summarized this concept in very simple terms.

  8. Perez Thomas says:

    I had added a lot of colorful,flashy ads,some music that starts automatically once a viewer opens my blog.But I hardly paid any attention on updating the content or sorting out an inaccurate,out-of-date material on my page.I can now understand that it could be a reason my blog has very few visitors and a very high bounce rate.I think I’ll focus more on my page content than other insignificant things as you have mentioned and hopefully will result in improving the bounce rate.

  9. My brother has a blog and he adds a lot of ads to them. Sometimes when I open his blog, I get too irritated by the number of ads that open up. I have told him about that, but he doesn’t seem to understand. I will share this site with him. Thanks for the details.

  10. Get Smart says:

    Typically the lower the bounce rate of a site the better, however this may not always be true. MFA sites (made for AdSense) would probably appreciate having a higher bounce rate since the goal for these sites (which I personally dislike) is not to keep your interest, but to get you to click out of the site using one of the Google ads on the page. I personally like seeing a very low bounce rate and will continue to work on my sites to see this number go lower, because this will mean I’ve engaged my audience and kept their interest which in turn means I’m providing them value through my content and hopefully showcased some of the products and services available on my site so that when they are in the frame of mind to make a purchase, it will hopefully be through my site, or my link.

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