Bounce Rates

Bounce rates can be an important measurement for your website and web pages. They can help determine whether a certain ad campaign is successful, whether you’re targeting the right keywords, or whether changes you make are improving your site. Knowing the bounce rate of your site and individual pages can give clues about what is and isn’t working for your site.

What Is Bounce Rate?

A bounce occurs when someone enters your site and never clicks beyond the page where they arrived. Bounce rate is naturally enough a measure of the rate at which this happens. If 100 people enter your site at the home page and 64 of them leave without visiting another page the bounce rate for your home page is 65%.

Ideally you’d like to have a low bounce rate, particularly on landing pages like your home page. It can be hard to always know, though what is a good rate and different types of pages will often have different acceptable rates.

Possible Reasons For Bounces

Bounces can happen for a variety of reasons. Some possible reasons people may leave your site without clicking deeper are:

  • an unattractive design
  • slow page load times
  • sending visitors to the wrong page in an ad
  • optimizing for the wrong keywords
  • poor content
  • too many annoyances on a page

Any of the above can cause people to bounce from your site. And a low rate isn’t necessarily a cause for celebration. You may have an attractive design, bit a poor navigation and people click around for awhile never finding what they were looking for. They may visit several pages before leaving so your rate was low, but only stayed because they wanted to find what they were looking and couldn’t.

On the other hand there are reasons why someone might bounce from one of your pages and it can still be considered a successful page. If the page carries contextual advertising and someone bounces via one of your ads then you’ve made some money and are probably happy. Maybe someone came to your site looking for your phone number and you provided it on every page of your site. They found it right away closed their browser and reached for the phone. It’s also possible that the page in question met the visitors needs well enough that they no longer looked for more information. Hopefully they bookmarked your site before leaving if this is the case.

How To Improve Bounce Rates

Since there are so many possible causes why someone would bounce you may be wondering how knowing the rate can help improve your site. Well first if your bounce rate is particularly high across most of your pages it’s probable that some changes are needed. This is especially true of landing pages since often your landing page isn’t the final page a customer will see when completing a purchase. Typically you want people to move deeper into your site to convert them into present or future customers.

Bounce rates can tell a lot when you make changes to a page and have measured the bounce both before and after the change. Maybe you’ve added some calls to action and in so doing your bounce rate has increased. It might be an indication that your call is too overt and causing people to lose trust in you. Maybe you decided to change some colors on your site since it was looking drab and after the change less people were bouncing from your site. It’s a strong indication the color change worked well.

You can also use bounce rates to test your marketing campaigns. You might have an ad, but aren’t sure where to send people who view the ad. You have two in mind, but aren’t sure which is best. You can try both and measure which page has the lower bounce rate. In a similar vein you may be bidding on a certain keyword phrase like ‘inexpensive acoustic guitars’ and are noticing the bounce rate from that ad to be very high. It could be an indication you are sending people to the wrong page. Perhaps you have the ad directing people to your home page instead of a page with an inexpensive acoustic guitar on it.

It’s possible you’ve sent them to the best page, but the copy in your ad was misleading. Maybe your version of inexpensive is far different from your visitors since all the guitars in question are custom made. The high bounce rate can be an indication you either need to change the ad copy or bid on a different keyword phrase.

Similarly with organic search you may have optimized your page for the more generic ‘guitar’ and while you’ve done a great job showing up in the results pages people are bouncing away. Maybe what they were really looking for with that search was guitar instruction of guitar lessons. It might be a good idea to add some modifiers to the page to let people know you sell guitars on that page.

The main idea to improve your rates is to measure what’s happening and if you feel a change is necessary make that change and measure again. You may not always know why someone is leaving your site, but often you can get some very good ideas of what might be the cause. Measuring the result of the change will lead you to improving your site and marketing efforts.

What Is A Good Bounce Rate?

It can be hard to know what is and isn’t a good rate for a given page and a site in general. In part this is due to all the possible reasons someone may decide to leave your site. As I mentioned above people may be bouncing via your ads in which case a high rate isn’t necessarily bad. It may even be your ideal. It’s also possible they’ve found you through a search and the page they came to answered their question well enough that they didn’t need to click further. Chances are, however, you want your bounce rate to be low. You’ll also probably want them lower on landing pages like your home page or main section pages. 50% is probably a good bounce rate for these pages, though there are certainly plenty of sites that have a better rate. Your deeper pages, especially ones that get found for searches you might not have anticipated will likely have a higher rate. Bounce rates over 80% are a good indication you need to change something.

Bounce rates can give you a clearer picture of what someone might think when they first encounter your site. They can give clues to which pages are working well as landing pages and let you know if you’ve pre-qualified visitors well in your various marketing campaigns. They can be very useful to measure when making changes on your site. Knowing the bounce rate before and after a change can give a very goof indication of whether or not any change was successful.

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11 comments

  1. I currently have a bounce rate of 61%. Somedays it is around 50% others 70% so it is not consistent. It is good to hear that mine is not too bad but i feel there is huge room for improvement. I am going to look into some of the tips you have mentioned here and try to lower my bounce rate. Especially as i would like to move into ppc.

    Many thanks

    • What makes for a good bounce rate depends a lot on your industry and where you get your traffic from. With the later search and social media traffic will likely bounce more whereas traffic from a forum will probably stick around longer.

      61% is probably ok. I’ve improved my bounce rate some since writing this post, but making things a little more sticky here and also diversifying where I get my traffic.

  2. Our company has been having trouble accurately tracking page bounces, because our phone number is in the header on every page. We have decided to instead put a contact us button to a contact page with number, form, etc. Hopefully we can remove the variable that the users might have called from any page causing the bounce. Negative to this could mean less calls, which we will have to measure. It’s only 1 click away.

    • I’d sooner make it easy for people to contact you than worry about bounce rates. I think bounce rates can give you some indication of how people are interacting with your site, but in truth the metric is flawed.

      For example someone reading your blog might visit each time you post, read your content, and then leave. That’s a great visitor, but will still show as a bounce on every visit.

  3. based on my experience, the more traffic a search engine sends to your web, the smaller the bounce rate. Other important factor is whether the traffic comes through a targeted keyword or not. Both the source and the keywords are the perfect combination to reduce the bounce rate and increase all the KPI (in my case).

      • I meant Exit Pages… not bounces. Sorry. I think removing the number from header will remove the variable that they exited any page because they saw number and called.

        • Oh. Still I wouldn’t worry too much about the stats in that case. After all what you’re hoping will happen is for someone to call so in the end the page is successful. Why take a chance you’ll get less calls just to improve the metric?

  4. Dictionary.com is one of the most popular websites in the world. It ‘probabaly’ has bounce rates of 90% for obvious reasons; see the correct spelling, hit the back button.

    Do not get caught up in the bounce rate figure too much, take much more notice of your intended goals.

    Regards

  5. Thanks for this detailed article on bounce rates.

    I noticed that my tend to run higher for the majority of my sites. One site has a bounce rate of around 61%, and it is one of the best/most popular sites.

    Another is around 80%, which is a bit disappointing considering that this is also one of my better sites.

    I guess I need to keep working and tweaking on things to try to reduce it.

    Thanks again for the info!

    • Don’t read too much into bounce rates alone. For example a lot of my audience will visit to read one blog post and then leave. They may spend 10 minutes reading an article and will be back again for the next one, but technically they bounced since they only view one page at a time.

      Also realize that many people inevitably find you site while looking for something else. Those people bounce, but they really weren’t your audience.

      However if you do think your bounce rate, particularly with people who leave quickly is something that needs to be improved, look to design. In the first few seconds someone visits your site they don’t have time to absorb your content. Their decision to stay or leave will be more about how the site looks and the if the main heading on the page is visible and matches what they were looking for.

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