What Does the Bounce Rate Mean on Google Analytics?

Google Analytics screenshot

If you have a website, you have probably heard the term “bounce rate.” Was the voice that uttered that phrase light and happy, or did the tone convey dark clouds and gloom? What is a bounce rate? Why do you care about it? And what constitutes a “good” or “bad” bounce rate? Please, read on…

What is a bounce rate?

The technical definition of “bounce rate” comes from Google:

“The percentage of single-page visits (i.e., visits in which the person left the site from the entrance page). Bounce rate is a measure of quality and a high bounce rate generally indicates that site entrance (landing) pages aren’t relevant to your visitors.”

How about we explain this in common language everyone speaks? We’ll use an example. Take a ball. Find a wall. Throw the ball at the wall. What did it do? It bounced. It came in, hit, and left. This is a simplistic example, but it works. A “bounce” on your website means a visitor came in, “hit” the page (or visited/landed), and then left from that same page without going any deeper or further on your website.

Why should you care about it?

As mentioned in Google’s definition, the bounce rate is a measure of quality and relevancy, and yes, this means that it is a factor in how well your pages are indexed in search engine listings relative to your competitors. So this metric matters.

What constitutes a “good” or “bad” bounce rate percentage?

This is where the waters become slightly muddied. On a very broad average, bounce rates between 25-40% get an A. Between 40-55% = B. Between 55-70% = C. Between 70-80% = D. Anything over 80% is either really great or pretty horrible. These ranges absolutely change depending on who you are talking to. As a geek myself, I start sweating when bounce rates climb above 60%. We would offer three thoughts for consideration here:

  1. A high bounce rate does not necessarily mean the page is broken or failing in its purpose. For example, if you are running an email campaign or a pay-per-click campaign and you are landing your audience on a very clear and directive custom landing page that quickly gets them to do something – and they do it and leave – then that is absolutely a success. Bounce rates for pages need to be taken in context with the purpose of the page.
  2. Many industries experience different average bounce rates (again, mostly driven by purpose or need). It may be that your site’s bounce rate is affected by the industry at large.
  3. Bounce rates can always be improved. 

What types of things affect your site’s bounce rates – and what can you do to improve it?

  • Bounce rate reasonsBrand disconnect on landing page
  • An increase in “spam referrals” to the site
  • Once landed, the visitor is not sure what they are supposed to do; what actions to take
  • Browser or end-user issues; connectivity issues
  • It takes too long for your page to load
  • The navigation on the page is not clear or helpful
  • The special landing page you used for a campaign is too general – not enough information or direction
  • For e-commerce websites: out of stock products
  • No internal site search tool
  • The visitor landed on a blog article
  • Forms that are much too long or ask for unnecessary information.
  • Or. maybe your landing page is too darn good. So we need to find a way to keep people on the site.

Of all of the factors that can affect bounce rate, quality and targeted content is probably the most influential. Great Web page content draws a visitor in (because your content matched what a searcher was looking for) and the quality of the page helps keep them there and encourages them to “go deeper,” or to explore other pages on the site. A great Web experience helps your visitors to keep coming back and gets your website referred to others. With a solid plan for great content generation, your website truly becomes a vehicle for targeting your particular audience and acquiring new customers for your business or nonprofit organization.

No matter how you slice or dice it (or try to excuse it), a low bounce rate generally means higher engagement and interest (do more of that!) and a high bounce rate generally means there is a problem that needs to be figured out and corrected. But how are you, a busy business owner, supposed to figure this out on your own and write all this great content? You don’t have to. The team at Nancy Marshall Communications is expert at this kind of stuff. If you are concerned about your site or the numbers you are seeing, we can perform a quick audit and tell you what we find and we can provide you with a plan for resolution. And, it’s nothing you should ever feel bad about. Websites are works in constant progress. When you partner with NMC, the progress just happens more quickly! How can we help you?