Understanding Bounce Rates
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What’s a bounce rate, and why is it important to know?
An individual “bounce” is a single-page visit to your site. That is, a visitor arrives on a page on your website and immediately says, “Let’s bounce!” without doing anything else on your site, such as clicking to another page. In a nutshell, they came, they saw, they left without triggering any next steps. They didn’t click to visit another page on your site or a call-to-action button.
Your bounce rate indicates how frequently that occurs. When you have a high bounce rate, visitors are telling you that your home page – or whichever page they go directly to – is not relevant or enticing to them. Each page on your website has a bounce rate, and your site has an overall bounce rate, which is calculated by dividing single-page visits by all visits.
Sounds simple enough, but there’s a bit more to it.
What Is Considered a Bounce?
In addition to simply closing the tab on your site, other activities trigger a bounce. For example, you create a bounce when an external link (i.e., link to another website) on your page is set to open in the same tab. When someone clicks it, they’ve left your site for the other.
Therefore, make sure that you select “open in new tab” when you add external links to your website. When you do that, the visitor is directed to the other site in a new tab, but your site remains open in the original tab – which extends the amount of time that’s recorded for the visit to your site!
Obviously, any other action that closes your site after viewing a single page is considered a bounce – hitting the ‘back’ button, typing a new URL, and closing the tab. Another thing that is considered a bounce is when a visitor tries to visit your site but the session times out and never connects because the page loads too slowly.
Where to Focus on Bounce Rate
If your success is tied to getting visitors to view multiple pages of your site, a high bounce rate is going to hurt your success. For example, your home page is the visitors’ invitation to look around the rest of the content on your site – such as your about page, blog posts, and contact page – so you want to have a low bounce.
You may have other pages (e.g., landing pages) where a high bounce rate would also be a bad thing. For each “key” page on your site, you’ll want to optimize the content on those pages to “hook” and engage your audience plus ensure your website is loading quickly.
On the other hand, some pages on your site may have a higher bounce rate, and that might be okay. For example, if you share links to your blog posts in social media posts and emails, and those visits account for a good bit of traffic to your blog, a higher bounce rate on your blog posts isn’t necessarily a bad thing and may simply be normal.
Why Look at Your Bounce Rate
High bounce rates could be a symptom of other problems that are negatively impacting your SEO. Technically speaking, bounce rate is not a direct factor in how search engines rank sites. However, a high bounce rate might point to these factors that do impact SEO:
- Poor mobile site optimization
- Slow page loading speeds
- Bad user-experience/page design
- Lack of alignment between keywords and your content
If your bounce rates seem high, you’ll want to fix the underlying issues and not just the symptom. Which is the perfect segue to….
Minimize Your Bounce Rate
The best way to reduce your bounce rate is to create pages that are engaging and relevant to the viewer. Make sure your call to action is easy to see and matches what your content is on the page. And don’t forget about site maintenance to keep your pages loading quickly!
Little tweaks are all your need to reduce your bounce rate and get more viewers to convert on your website. You can learn what changes need to be made by understanding what goes on behind the scenes of your website. But the first thing you must do is know what your bounce rate IS. You can’t improve something you can’t measure! Fortunately, Google Analytics can provide you with your bounce rate, as well as other key performance indicators.
If you’re like to learn more about how we can help you drive traffic to your website using Google Analytics and Google Listings, hop on a free 15-minute call with us!