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What is Bounce Rate?

At NicheLabs, we recognize that our clients are not typically coders, developers, or web-marketing experts. So, why would we expect them to decipher the list of jargon needed to measure the results of our marketing efforts?

One of the most important pieces of information that we relay to each of our Search Engine Optimization clients in their monthly Search Engine Marketing reports is bounce rate.  Luckily, it is easy to understand where this term gets its name. Think of a very fuzzy tennis ball; Stay with me, now…what happens when you throw a very fuzzy tennis ball at a smooth, flat wall?

Yes, it bounces right off and heads in a different direction. But, if that wall were covered in Velcro, it would stick around a while. The fuzzy tennis ball is your visitor, ready to be served, wanting to find something that makes them stick around, interact, and become a real prospect. The hooks and loops are the reasons that you give the visitor to stick around and explore, and ultimately engage (click to learn more, fill out a contact form, click to call your number, etc.).

We will keep this explanation of bounce rate as high-level as we can, because our goal is a clear understanding among our own audience; But, it is important to note that bounce rate is often over-simplified. This often happens when tech companies have the intent of making terms easily-digestible by the general public. Unfortunately, this perfectly honorable intention makes it common to find misleading definitions on the web.

Google Analytics defines Bounce Rate as “single-page sessions divided by all sessions, or the percentage of all sessions on your site in which users viewed only a single page and triggered only a single request to the Analytics server.” The reality here is that the calculations that yield bounce rate can have more or different factors that just page views.

According to Analytics NINJA, “a bounce is a visit with a single engagement hit.” So, let’s change out “single-page sessions” with “single-interactions” in the Google Analytics definition to get a more accurate vision. But, this still doesn’t tell the whole story…

Again, “hits” can include more than page views, such as:

  • Ecommerce Items and Transactions
  • Social Interactions
  • Events
  • User Defined

These items can affect the calculations that factor into bounce rate. Though, some of these items like Social Media or Events can be set to not affect bounce rate. If this is the case, multiple actions may have occurred, but some not factored. So, the easiest way to think of bounce rate, is a single interaction before leaving the page, unless you have some “hit factors” set to “non-interaction.” When there is no next interaction after landing on the page, or the interactions that take place are set to “non-interaction,” Google Analytics cannot calculate the amount of time the visitor spent there. So, a bounce is tracked as 0 seconds spent on the initial page reached by the user.

According to RocketFuel a proper gauge of bounce rates looks like this:

  • Excellent: 26-40%
  • Average: 56-70%
  • Poor: Over 70%

Keep in mind that some pages are expected to have a high bounce rate; Sites that only function as blogs, news, and events pages are likely to have high bounce rates because they may not call for a secondary action (Think of clicking on a link, reading an article, and leaving the page). However, a high bounce rate on an ecommerce site with pages to shop around on, would typically be a sign that the traffic being sent there is largely not getting what they were hoping for.

Also keep in mind that websites with a high percentage of mobile traffic will often have a higher bounce rate, due to the nature of mobile interactions. Let’s use an ecommerce site as the example again. Many of us do a bit of product research on our mobile device, as soon as we think of something we need, only to leave the site, and return later to dig deeper, click through the pages, and make a transaction on our desktop.

It’s important to understand what ground-level looks like for you, rather than comparing your site to a set of “standard ranges”. As long as the user’s needs are being met, your site is working for you. Bounce rate is intended to measure the initial impression made on your visitor, but it is not the only factor, and its implications will vary from site-to-site.

Because bounce rate is contextual, we often must help our clients obtain a baseline, or “benchmark” to get an idea of their current website performance. NicheLabs would be happy to help you identify your benchmark and set reasonable goals based on the unique factors surrounding your business and industry. Call us at 888-978-9254 or send a request for contact here to see how your website is performing today.