Metrics You Should Be Tracking (But You’re Not): Bounce Rate
In this part of the web metric analytics series, we will discuss the bounce rate metric in detail. Here we’ll try to find out the reasons for the bounces, the ideal bounce rate for your site, and ways to effectively track it and lower it.
So let’s get started.
What exactly is a Bounce Rate?
According to Google, “Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page sessions (i.e. sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).” Put differently, this metric reveals the percentage of visitors that immediately left your site from the page that they landed on without visiting another page.
A higher bounce rate usually indicates that the users decided to leave your site when they didn’t find what they were looking for. In a brick and mortar scenario, this is same as a person stepping into a store, taking a quick glance around and immediately stepping out without further exploration. Of course, this can happen if they stepped into a wrong store by accident. And the same can occur online with websites too. So considering this scenario, it is impossible to maintain the bounce rate at absolute zero, but it is extremely important to bring it down.
Losing a visitor is as good as losing a potential lead or even a sale! So it is imperative to find out the precise reasons for the bounce rate at the earliest, especially if it’s on the rise. First, try to keep your website fresh with new, relevant and useful content for your target audience. Secondly, ensure that your website’s navigation is working correctly. Arguably, these are the two major reasons for a higher bounce rate.
Another metric to track in tandem with bounce rate is referral sources. FoxMetrics suite of analytics tools allows you to combine the referral report with this metric. This will reveal those sites that are causing the highest percentage of bounce rates on your site. FoxMetrics allows you to do a lot more than just tracking the metrics. Our tools can suggest corrective steps and help you optimize your metrics to the core that can help you maximize conversion.
It is important to note that the bounce rate numbers can be misleading at times. Although your analytics tool shows a high bounce rate percentage, it may not essentially mean poor content or other technical issues on your site. We’ll discuss some of the ways to avoid such analysis errors in this post. But before that, it will be useful to know what exit rate is and how it is different from the bounce rate.
What is exit rate?
If bounce rate mainly pertains to the page on which the users landed on your website (and left immediately), exit rate relates to the page from which the visitors left your site or the last the page that they were on before leaving. In other words, it is the percentage of visitors leaving your site from a specific page.
Let’s imagine that your purchase cycle has 5 steps and the exit rate is highest on the 3rd step or page. So that’s the page you must work on and optimize for reducing the exit rate. Of course, the final page or check out page will have the highest exit rate. Although this is not a serious problem, it is good to bring down the exit rate even on the check-out page.
If you want to learn more about exit rate, Mavenec.com has a comprehensive analysis of the difference between bounce rate and exit rate here.
When does a bounce occur?
A bounce from your site can happen due to any of these following scenarios, which also indicate that the requirements of your visitors were not fulfilled.
- When the back button is clicked (highly common)
- When the visitor closes the browser (tab or window)
- When a new URL is typed
- When the user stays idle for more than 30 minutes and the session times out
- When the user clicks an external link
- Faulty analytics tracking
Among these six scenarios, the last two are the ones that lead to misleading bounce rate results. Let’s delve a little deeper into them.
When the user clicks an external link: Not all visits that are listed as bounces from your site are bad. When a user leaves your web page by clicking a link to another site, it is treated as a bounce. But this external link could be an affiliate link that you expect them to click or it could be a link to another website that you own. Another common cause for generating misleading bounces is when the user is led to a secure login page on a different domain for making payments. These bounces are positive and shouldn’t worry you much.
You can detect these positive bounces by tracking the outbound links and adequately monitoring the visitors leaving to all your other websites. You can efficiently track these outbound links using FoxMetrics suite of analytics tools. Our tools provide you an option to monitor your outbound links as an event and a whole lot of other optimization options. Once this is set up, clicks to external sites won’t be considered as bounces. FoxMetrics undertakes rigorous tracking and optimization of your website metrics to maximize lead generation.
Faulty analytics tracking: If the analytics code is improperly configured on your website, it can give you incorrect bounce rates. For instance, if the tracking code embedded in web page A is different from page B of your site, and if the user leaves page A and lands on page B or vice versa, then these internal moves will also be wrongly treated as bounces.
What should be the ideal bounce rate for my website?
Jay Peyton at Gorocketfuel.com says that “The bounce rate for the average website is more likely to dance to the tune of 40 to 55 percent.” But it can also vary due to a number of factors. Some of them include your industry, credibility of your brand, website type, web page type, the placement of a web page on your site, how warmed up is your customer, objective of your visitor, and several other possible factors.
But on certain web pages, it’s nothing abnormal to have a high bounce rate. These are exceptions! Let’s check out these pages.
Contact Us Page: It is perfectly OK to have a high bounce rate for ‘Contact Us’ pages. This indicates that the user was able to easily access the contact details such as phone, email address or location details and left the page at once after receiving that. This is rather a positive sign!
Checkout Page: You need not fret if your checkout pages have a higher bounce rate. This is common because users usually don’t land on checkout pages and will leave it as soon as they have made the purchase.
Customer Support Pages: Good quality customer support pages are found to have high bounce rates. This is also a good sign because it’s an indicator that the user’s query was resolved by the page without having to dial the customer service number.
Blog Posts: If you have a high-traffic blog with a huge number of returning readers, then it is common to have a bounce rate of 88% or higher. It’s just an indicator that your readers found the post helpful and exited the post as soon as their needs were met. Yes, you must try to reduce the rate and find ways to keep your visitors engaged for long, but for a high-traffic blog, a bounce rate of 88% or more is not alarming.
Subdivide your Data for Efficient Bounce Rate Tracking
As mentioned earlier, a higher bounce rate may not always mean issues on your site. So in order to decrease misleading bounce rate figures, it is highly recommended to compartmentalize the tracking data.
Here are some subdivision examples that you can incorporate to better analyze your site’s performance.
Geographical Segmentation: If your business only focuses on a particular region, say, Seattle, then sub-divide your traffic sources and track whether the traffic from outside Seattle is causing higher bounce rates. If that’s the case, then there’s nothing abnormal. Do you think your site will be relevant to visitors coming from Los Angeles or New York or other regions?
Device Specific Segmentation: It’s always good to subdivide your traffic on the basis of devices as well. It has been seen that most users browsing the internet on mobile devices are looking for quick answers to a query rather than a purchase. So the bounce rate from mobile traffic is likely to be higher than desktop traffic. But websites that are not optimized for mobile devices can also have higher bounce rates.
Visitor Type Segmentation: You must track new and returning visitors separately. Generally, new visitors cause a higher bounce rate than returning visitors. That’s because new visitors are less likely to explore your site or stay longer than returning visitors who already know your brand well.
Traffic Source Segmentation: The engagement levels of visitors coming from different channels or sources (e.g. paid, organic, social media, email, referral websites) will greatly vary. Each set of visitors coming from these mediums will have different intents and expectations. So by compartmentalizing visitors on the basis of mediums you will obtain valuable insights into the variations of bounce rates from each of these mediums.
Now some practical methods to bring down your bounce rate
After you have detected that the bounce rate is rising for your crucial landing pages, then you must waste no time in taking the corrective steps to lower it. Here are some of the most effective ways to accomplish it.
Improve Page Load Speed
If your web pages have slow load speed, visitors tend to get fed up pretty fast and leave your site without exploring further. And yes, this can increase the bounce rate numbers. The first step towards rectifying this problem is to analyze the load with sites like GT Metrix. If the results are negative then try installing a plugin to optimize your cache and images. This can help improve the load speed of your site.
Optimize your Site Design and Formatting of your Blog Posts
- Make sure that your site is compatible with all mobile devices
- Choose a theme that is lightweight, uncluttered, pleasant to the eyes and responsive
- Divide your blog posts into shorter, easy to read paragraphs instead of an extensively long one. Such long drawn paragraphs will only increase bounce rate, especially on mobile devices with smaller screens.
- Improve user engagement by incorporating bullet points, engaging pictures, and hyperlinks that link to other relevant pages on your site.
- The most important point to remember is to create blog posts that are informative and easy to read with no complex jargon or phrases.
Here’s a nice video to get you started!
Summing it up
Tracking the bounce rate and taking corrective measures to lower it should be one of the most vital analytical tasks that you must undertake as a website owner. But this can only be accomplished if you have an intelligent analytics tool that can effectively track the metric as well as suggest you practical ways to decrease it. FoxMetrics suite of analytics tools is one amongst that. It includes a set of tools that’s not just intuitive, but also easy to implement and use. You can learn more about FoxMetrics tools here.