If you’re a website owner, hopefully you have Google Analytics or another web analytics program set up and running on your site.
If you don’t, go do that now.
Seriously, we’ll wait.
If you’re looking at your stats for the first time, you’re probably wondering,
What the heck is bounce rate?
Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your site after viewing only one page.
Visitor Bob might click the back button (often to return to search results), type in a new web address, or close his browser window or tab.
What does it mean?
I get lots of questions about bounce rate because this metric is prominent on the Google Analytics dashboard. Frequently, it’s also uncomfortably large.
Google (and other search engines – we’ll just say Google for short) uses bounce rate to determine if people are finding what they’re looking for when they click to your site.
It probably goes without saying that, if your site is useful, people are more likely to click to other pages. And if they click to other pages, you deserve to be higher up in the search results.
That’s the theory anyway.
While the purpose of your homepage is likely to entice readers to continue exploring, you may have landing pages on your site that accomplish their jobs without any clicking.
Luckily, you can explore the bounce rate for each individual page to see which pages are performing according to expectations and which aren’t.
For example, over the last 30 days, my About page has had a bounce rate of 0% (awesome!), but my contact page has had a bounce rate of over 85%.
- People who came to my site because they were looking for my phone number got their question answered on the first page they went to. I’m cool with that.
- My About page filled my visitors with an insatiable curiosity and desire to learn more about yours truly. I’m cool with that too.
Keep in mind that your average bounce rate is just that: an average of the bounce rates of all the indexed pages on your site.
So, your overall bounce rate may be hurt by a particular page that’s just sitting there doing its job.
How to improve your bounce rate.
Google does look at bounce rate, along with click-throughs, time on site, what you had for lunch*, and other factors, when determining your position. So, if search engine results are important to you, you probably should be looking at improving your bounce rate. Here are some ideas:
- Be intruiging. All you have to do is get them to click to a second page on your site. That’s it! So for god’s sake, be interesting. Add a quiz. Say something bold, or ask a thought provoking question and make them click to get the answer. These strategies will increase engagement on your site, which is what bounce rate is actually designed to measure.
- Make a compelling offer. Tell your visitors what’s in it for them. Make a promise and then deliver on that process. (In exchange for a click, of course).
- Get rid of the exit signs. Find us on Facebook! Great. Bounce. I love social media as much as the next self-obsessed, lonely, thirty-something solopreneur, but if a visitor lands on your site, then clicks a link that takes them to another site, that’s a bounce. Plus, you’re missing out on the chance to present your message the way you want it presented! Save your social links for the interior of the site. Make them work for it.
I really don’t want to overstate the importance of the bounce rate. It’s decidedly unhelpful to get blinded by one statistic, especially when the importance of that statistic is not always clear.
On the other hand, there are good reasons to pay attention to bounce rate, at least on specific pages. Make it part of your regular traffic analysis and see what happens.
* Just kidding about this one. They’re not rolling that out until next year.