‘Bounce Rate’ in Google Analytics Explained - Why It Matters & How to Improve It
Is your website performing optimally? Are your site visitors staying on your site to explore it, or are they leaving after reviewing only the landing page that got them there? If the latter is true then your website is suffering from a high bounce rate, and that could be bad for business. If your bounce rate is high for the wrong reasons, you’ll need to figure out how to keep visitors on your site longer (increasing the chance of conversion) by decreasing your bounce rate. However, first thing’s first. Exactly what does ‘bounce rate’ mean, and why does it matter?
What is Bounce Rate?
In simple terms, bounce rate is the number of single page visits a site receives where the person leaves without interacting or further engaging with the website. As is apparent by the definition, the website’s bounce rate is critically important to its success. It’s a key way a business owner can identify which pages are working well at retaining visitors, and which need to be optimised. Also, if you’re advertising using Google AdWords, or participate in any other PPC advertising, a high bounce rate on a landing page is equivalent to throwing money away.
Google Analytics Bounce Rate
Since Google is by far the most popular search engine, your Google Analytics bounce rate should be a major KPI when evaluating the success of your web pages. That’s true whether you use AdWords or not because Google uses the bounce rate as one of its many quality indicators and it affects both paid ads and organic SEO. The higher the bounce rate, the more likely it is the page will get affected and not rank as well as possible organically.
Google isn’t necessarily going to check the bounce rate of every one of your website pages, but they do monitor user activity. So, the more people who immediately return to the search results after reaching your landing page, the lower your quality score is likely to be with Google. Pages and ads with low-quality scores rank lower, and that makes it less likely that your page or ad will be seen.
Tips to Decrease Bounce Rate
The number one rule of engagement is to know your audience. Before you make any changes to your website, figure out whom you want to reach, their likes and dislikes, and what needs they might have that you can fulfil. Next, put all of your energy into improving the user experience (UX). Here are a few specific tips:
Optimise every page for conversion with an actionable CTA.
Keep your search field and navigation menu in a prominent area on every page.
Use heat maps to identify where visitors hover, and make those areas clickable.
Redesign web pages, so they better represent the search terms, ads and keywords that bring visitors to your site.
Set up external links to open in a new window
Can a High Bounce Rate be Good?
Yes, if your web pages are running optimally, you may still have a high bounce rate. But, that can be a good thing. If your visitors complete the requested action (for example picking the phone up and calling you) without looking anywhere else on your site, then the page is a success. Alternatively, if yours is a blog that people reach through social media, they may get everything they need from reading it without having to search further on your site. So, when analysing the bounce rate of a given web page, consider other factors, too, including time spent on the page, as well as the percentage of visitors who completed the desired task before leaving the page.
Certainly, there are a number of factors that play a part in how well a given web page is performing, and a bounce rate can be a good sign or a bad one. The key is to identify your target audience and design the web page for them using the tips listed above. Once you do that, and your visitors begin engaging more, you’ll discover that the bounce rate is no longer something to fear because you will have taken control of it.
Article by Will Williamson