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Thursday, Oct. 25, 2007 at 10:17 am

Unlocking Key Performance Indicators: Bounce Rate

By Ronald Patiro
October 25th, 2007

less bounce to the ounceFor the second installment in this series, we’ll cover bounce rate (aka “reject rate”). Simply put, bounce rate measures the amount of visitors that are landing on your site and immediately bouncing off of it.

To qualify as a bounce, analytics tools will typically take all visitors who only see one page and leave. Time may also be used to qualify a bounce (e.g., any visit under 10 seconds as a bounce).*

To calculate bounce rate, take the number of bounces and divide it by the number of visits. You can measure bounce rate for your entire site and measure the bounce rate for specific landing pages.

Example: 10,000 bounced visitors / 30,000 total visitors = 33% bounce rate.

There are many elements that will effect the bounce rate. The main idea is that people coming to your site are following a scent. If they arrive on your site and have no trace of the scent they were following, they will immediately leave. Some of the main elements to investigate when looking into your bounce include:

  • Traffic source. Are certain traffic sources consistently delivering visitors that are more likely to bounce?
  • Inbound links to your site. Look at the link and surrounding text that links to your site. Do the links give the visitor an accurate idea of what to expect on your site, and does your site contain what the link leads them to believe they will find on the page?
  • Keywords. If you are measuring the traffic coming from search engines, are the keywords the visitor searches for visibly present on your landing page?
  • Stating your unique value. Do you have a unique value proposition? Is it present across the site and particularly on your landing pages?
  • Page title. Do you have a relevant page title that is telling of what your page contains.
  • Headings and headlines. Are there relevant headings and headlines that tell a visitor where they are and what to expect.
  • Global Navigation. Is your navigation intuitive? Does it use words and naming conventions that your visitor understands? If your sitewide bounce rate is high, this sitewide feature may be contributing.
  • Load Time. Are your pages loading too slow for people to even give them a chance?
  • Page descriptions. Are the page descriptions you created relevant to the page?
  • Perceived length. If your pages are very long, they may be perceived as a waste of time, thus causing people to bounce. This also relates to forms. Are there any intimidating forms present?
  • Look and feel. Does your site’s aesthetic match what a site in your industry typically looks like? Is your site cluttered and lacking in white space?
  • Server. Are you testing to see if your server is up to par?
  • Browser compatibility. Are different browsers viewing your pages correctly?

Bounce rate is a great starting point when analyzing important aspects of your site. Here are some of the important elements you can measure with bounce rate:

  • Where should your marketing spend go? By getting information about which traffic sources are delivering lower quality traffic, you can optimize these campaigns by analyzing the elements listed above and in the meantime divert your money into campaigns that are outperforming them.
  • Which keywords should you be paying for? Use bounce rate a starting point for analyzing your keyword performance.
  • Are your optimization efforts successful? If you are making changes to a page or sitewide feature, has the bounce rate gone up or down?
  • How effective are your landing pages? If your landing pages are bouncing more than one out of three people visiting your site, you may want to investigate why this may be happening.

Avinash Kaushik has even called bounce rate the “Sexiest Metric Ever” — and I agree. As far as web metrics go, bounce rate is sexy. Don’t ignore the other metrics in light of bounce rate’s beauty.

So, get testing, and be sure to check out the next installment, where we cover “Order Acquisition Ratio.”

. . .

*It’s important to check what your analytics program considers a ‘bounce’ before analyzing any data.

[Editor's Note: Want to get less bounce to the ounce? Future Now can help.]

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Comments (16)

  1. I’m running a PPC campaign in an extremely competitive vertical and my bounce rate has consistently been around 50%. What is the typical bounce rate for PPC?

  2. [...] Unlocking Key Performance Indictors: Bounce RateĀ  [...]

  3. Thanks for shining some light on bounce rate. Very informative!

    I get 50% bounce on one site and 30% on the other one, which is more of a niche market. Thanks to Ram for sharing his rate. A recent seminar I went to said 30-50% is ok but there isn’t really a ‘standard’. If you are the only person selling size 18 pink rubber boots, your bouce rate is going to be pretty small if your customers are looking for that.

    Craig

  4. Ram,

    Thank you for your question. It helped inspire a future blog post regarding industry standards so keep an eye out for it here on our blog.

    Before I go near answering what an acceptable bounce rate would be, I would like to ask you to identify any acceptable reasons why someone would come to your site and leave. If you do expect a portion of your traffic to bounce for reasons beyond your control, what would that percentage be? This is what your goal should be for bounce rate.

    Do not worry too much about industry standards and “typical” bounce rates. That thinking will often be the excuse for complacency when there is still plenty of room for improvement.

    Depending on the type of site you have and the industry within which it exists, the “typical” bounce rate should be below 40%. Considering this is PPC traffic, you should be able to get your bounce rate even lower since you are totally accountable for what keywords they are finding your pages from and what page you create to bring them to.

    So Ram, regardless of how “typical” you may deem your bounce rate, remember to focus on the room for improvement rather than solely on where the rest of your industry is.

  5. Another great Grok post thanks Ronald but it made me smile to see the typical site bounce rates and the reference to Google’s Avinash. Last week I had a number of keywords turned off in one of my Google Adwords groups because they were deemed not relevant enough. I needed to raise my bid prices ( Which I did because you, or at least I, can’t win a fight with Google). This happened in a group with a CTR in the mid teens and a group bounce rate of less than 1%, believe it or not!

  6. Thanks Ronald. I knew my bounce rate was bad, since I’m new to PPC I was fishing for some benchmarks to work on. Some people are likely to be window shopping, or they are on a information gathering stage in the buying process. So I expect some bounce rate, unfortunately I don’t have any benchmarks on this for my industry. Though I would be surprised if it is as high as 50%.

    Key question for me has been what do I change to have an impact on the bounce rate? I have knocked of keywords that dont convert, but it didn’t seem to have much impact on the bounce rate at least. I find the bounce rates vary by between weekdays & weekends. Now am looking at my site to see what else can be done – I clearly have work to do.

    I look forward to industry standards post. Keep up the good work.

  7. This is a great write up. I have a lot of clients that constantly check their Google analytics account and they get obsessed with bounce rate and how to fix it. This article will give me many ways to combat their attacks next time. Thanks so much.

  8. [...] they penetrate deep into the site or bounce off of [...]

  9. [...] It should lower bounce rate. [...]

  10. Terminology and Definitions…

    Omniture Terminology Note: These terms and definitions are all specific to Omniture data and reporting. The same definitions may not apply to other tools and systems…….

  11. This is great post, i have a website, recently change my webtemplate, since then google not crawling my website? pls give me solution.

  12. Fascinating stuff. I have a client who would be interested in this, I’ll pass it on to them.

    Thanks for very informative post.

  13. 50% bounce rate is not too bad, even for PPC. The main issue I see for high bounce rate is due to the site content; many site owners simply do not breathe lives into their website as much as they should be. Nothing relevant or eye catching before I start to yawn, click the X button on top right.

  14. I read somewhere that bounce rate was used by Google in determining search rankings. Does anyone know how true this is? If it really is the case then that’s a major incentive for addressing pages that have a high bounce rate.

  15. In trying to keep my bounce rate low, I’ve installed W3 Total Cache to make things faster and I’ve added stuff like related posts but I still can’t get my bounce rate to go below 50 %. It’s presently stuck @ below 70%. The only thing I’m somewhat happy about is that the time on site is gradually increasing daily ;-)

  16. Sarah – I’ve also heard that about bounce rate but still trying to get my head round all the different factors and influence it. I keep telling myself I’m going to set up some tests and do some comparisons but haven’t quite got there yet …

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