What is "bounce rate" anyway?

Website owners sometimes think that having a website will indefinitely provide ongoing traffic and that they, both the owner and the website will live happily ever after. Truth of the matter, as my colleague once said; websites are not just for Christmas. In fact, websites are a lot of work, especially good ones. Luckily, with the evolution of the web and web based technology, (free) open source technology, keeping a website fresh and up-to-date has become a much easier and cost effective task. The tricky part about keeping a website fresh and up-to-date becomes then the “finding the time” and most importantly the “knowing what to add” to your website to keep it fresh. But is that really all that matters when up-keeping and maintaining a website?

Man jumping into oceanAs we know, or most of us should know by now; traffic that ends up on a website doesn’t just appear by chance, it’s not a miracle, nor is it the website fairy sending traffic our way. People searching the web via search engines everyday eventually are presented with websites that in one way or another are related and/or relevant to the search query. For example, if we do a search for “apple” on a search engine, we will most likely be getting a bunch of “apple” computer results, “apple” based cooking recipes, “apple” growing techniques, or a combination of all of these and more.

As website owners, it is our responsibility to ensure that web searchers looking for specific information find this content in a properly structured way, is relevant, and at-the-end-of-the-day meets the expectations set forth by the initial search query. Alternatively, if we end up on a website that doesn’t have what we were expecting, what do we do? Think about it; we “bounce.”

We bounce! We’ve all done it. We do a search and get to a page that doesn’t really provide us with what we were looking for, apple computers vs. apple recipes. What do we do? Leave immediately. In web lingo, this is called a “bounce.”

Search engine traffic, however, is only one example of how incoming traffic can bounce from our websites. Bounce traffic can also apply to referral traffic, campaign traffic, or any incoming traffic to your website.

Thanks to the availability of online tools such as Google Analytics, a free online traffic tracking web application that enables you more data than you ever thought you’d need to know about your website traffic; with it you can track your “bounces” or “bounce rate.” This indicates to a website owner how many visitors have come and gone from your website without finding what they were looking for, or better put; their expectations weren’t met and left without any interaction.

Plain and simple: A bounce happens when a user comes to your page and leaves without interacting with any of the links or elements on your page, meaning the user does not navigate through your website. A bounce rate is the percentage of visits in which a user left without viewing any other pages. High bounce rates are bad and low bounce rates are good. Bounce rates on a blog may be irrelevant since it is common for people to look at a single page and leave, without navigating at all. Bounce rate is a good indicator of landing page relevance and effectiveness. To lower your website or landing page bounce rate, analyse your content and tailor these pages to their associated keywords, ads, and referral links. The more relevant the page the less likely a visitor will bounce off of it.

Keeping your website up-to-date and fresh is important. However, having a solid content strategy for your website that ensures that your existing content is relevant and meets the expectations of incoming traffic is equally as important. So, keep an eye out for your bounce rate!

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10 Responses to What is "bounce rate" anyway?

  1. Good advice but a little confusing. Is a high bounce rate good or bad? Surly the fact that people found what they were looking for on the single landing page is good or not too bad.

    What would be a normal bounce rate, 20% ?

  2. Hey James, thanks for the comment.

    That is correct: High bounce rates are bad and low bounce rates are good. A good/normal bounce rate I would say is around 30, but if you can get it in the 20s, event better. Any landing pages with over 50% bounce rate I would recommend having a good look at.

    It really boils down to the type of content, amount of traffic, and your website’s overall objectives.

    As I state in the article, a bounce rate on a blog might not be so important. However, for an eCommerce website, that’s a different story.

    Hope this answers your question.

  3. John says:

    hey man, nice blog…really like it and added to bookmarks. keep up with good work

  4. Sammy says:

    Amazing post, saved your blog in hopes to see more!

  5. Hi John and Sammy, thanks for the comment and the bookmark/rss connection! More to come indeed. ;)

  6. fenderbirds says:

    Nice article, keep the posts coming.

  7. Thanks for the useful post! I wouldn’t have found this on my own!

  8. davide says:

    I liked your post. Cheers

  9. Igor says:

    I like the way you have it laid out. How can I subscribe to your RSS? Thx

  10. Séamus T. Byrne says:

    Hi Igor,

    Our RSS feed is up at the top right of the page under the “Subscribe” heading.

    Thanks!

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