Our Metrics Monday blog series often explores fairly advanced and nuanced approaches for using Google Analytics to analyze and strategize your marketing initiatives. However, we can’t overlook the high-level standard metrics that are also crucial to understanding the performance of your site. Today we’ll look at bounce rate, the often mercurial but ultimately valuable metric, to understand how users are engaging with your site.
Bounce rate is simply calculated as the percentage of visitors who enter your site and leave without viewing any other pages or interacting in any way, i.e., clicking on an external link or submitting information in a form. So if 100 visitors enter your site via the homepage or another landing page, and 80 of them leave immediately without exploring the deeper pages, your bounce rate is 80 percent.
Why is this calculated? To determine whether you’re finding and retaining the right audience, and whether that audience is finding the content they want and immediately leaving — or not finding what they want at all.
What’s considered a good bounce rate, and when should I be worried?
There’s no one-size-fits-all bounce rate for your site, and there are ways you can adjust how bounce rate is measured based on the intent and priorities of your site. Your bounce rate for your AdWords landing pages will likely be significantly higher than the rest of your site, simply because you want your users to convert on that page rather than traverse the rest of your site. In this case, a 70–90 percent bounce rate may be a good thing, because you provide users everything they need on one page.
However, if you have a deeper website filled with valuable content meant to build your brand and earn a loyal audience, you’ll want to strive for a bounce rate between 40 and 60 percent. If your bounce rate comes in below 10 percent, you’ve likely implemented your Analytics code improperly. Check to see if you have more than one instance of the code on the back end of your website.
Why is bounce rate important to SEO?
While it’s not technically a ranking factor for Google, there’s a strong correlation between a solid bounce rate and higher rankings. A lower bounce rate means users searching for a specific query find your content and site relevant to that query, which demonstrates that Google is returning the best possible user experience.
While bounce rate may not directly contribute to Google ranking factors, the following on-page optimization opportunities will not only help dramatically improve bounce rate, but may contribute directly to improved Google search rankings.
How to improve bounce rate
Make your site mobile-friendly and fast: Mobile is increasingly taking over the lion’s share of site traffic. As more users access your site via their phone or tablet, it’s essential your site is mobile-optimized and loads promptly. Mobile users are fickle, and if your site doesn’t load after a couple of seconds, they won’t bother sticking around.
Add more internal links within your content: If you have a popular blog post or piece of content that generates a lot of traffic with a solid average time on page, but everybody is bouncing out rather than exploring the rest of your site, simply add more links to related content. Then you can monitor the user flow report in Analytics to understand which links are resonating with those users the most.
You should also add links to the most popular content to your sidebar or other prominent parts of your website.
Another quick-hitter to quickly improve bounce rate is making sure all external site links open in a new browser window or tab. And of course, make sure your website has an intuitive and easy-to-use navigation, a sleek and simple design, and no pop-ups.
Finally, and most simply, the most effective way to improve your site’s bounce rate is to give your users a reason to stay. Make it user-friendly, informative, and unique. Much of SEO is about optimizing for bots, but never forget that your audience comes first.