A bounce rate, by definition, is the measure of the percentage of viewers who enter a site on one page and then leave without visiting a second page during that session.
Your site’s bounce rate is not the same as an “exit rate,” which is the rate at which viewers leave a given page. (The exit rate doesn’t take into account how many pages — if any — were viewed before the last page the viewer sees.)
We bloggers are told that a good bounce rate should be somewhere in the 26%-40% range.
We hear that we should be concerned if our bounce rates are higher than 75%, because it’s a sign that our sites fail to encourage visitors to stay longer.
But notice this paragraph from GoRocketFuel:
As a rule of thumb, a bounce rate in the range of 26 to 40 percent is excellent. 41 to 55 percent is roughly average. 56 to 70 percent is higher than average, but may not be cause for alarm depending on the website. Anything over 70 percent is disappointing for everything outside of blogs, news, events, etc.
Everything over 70% is disappointing outside of blogs?
So blogs have a different standard of measurement for acceptable bounce rates? It turns out they do.
Didn’t you wish you knew that before you started stressing out when you saw that your blog’s bounce rate was above 80%? I know I did.
On blogs, along with some news sites, part of the problem is that individual posts are often promoted, particularly by social media. If someone is effectively attracted by a headline or tweet onto a particular topic, that person may click that link to read that article. That person may not have time to read multiple posts: they may want to see that single topic, then go elsewhere.
Or, the blogger may decide to search for a specific topic and see Google produce a search result from a blog. (That’s a positive, of course, because it means your SEO may be working well.) They go there, read the story, get the information they need, then leave.
Both of these scenarios mean your bounce rate goes high, even though your blog is doing what it’s supposed to do: attracting visitors and providing useful information.
Today, for example, is Columbus Day. I didn’t do a post about the significance of Columbus Day because I’d done that post last year. My stats showed that on this Columbus Day, that particular post was the most-read.
Think about that a second: a post from last year, which doesn’t have any hope at all of ever appearing on the front page of this blog at this distance, was number one. That means people had to search for it to find it. That, in turn, means that people were looking for that single topic, which I hope I delivered.
But once they’d read my eight “fun facts” about the holiday, they hopefully had received the information they were looking for, so they left the blog at that point. So should I be surprised if the bounce rate for that page is 90.46%?
My homepage’s bounce rate for today is right at 50%. By GoRocketFuel’s estimation, I’m right on par with average.
Sure, I’d like to score in the excellent range, and I’m working on that. But at least now I know that when I look at the “front entrance” of my site, I’m suddenly not in the red zone that I thought I was in because I’d read a Bounce Rate scale without that simple “outside of blogs” phrase.
But wait: there’s more!
Google may be adding to the problem!
On Google Analytics’ blog page, which I would consider to be a fully reputable source about Google Analytics itself, it brings up this point:
While working perfect for most websites, there are categories of sites where this metric is not enough.
Google’s own formula may not be giving you the most accurate picture of bounce rate, depending on what kind of site you have.
So I’m trying out a plugin that is designed to work Google’s suggested change into the Google Analytics code that’s already running on this blog. The plugin is called Reduce Bounce Rate and it’s a matter of installing and activating.
I’ll let you know how if I see any changes.
In the meantime, I won’t be sweating bounce rate quite as much. I hope you won’t be, either.