Blogging

Why I Only Pay Attention to My Front Page Bounce Rate

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When I check my blog analytics, my front page bounce rate is the only specific bounce rate measurement that I worry about.

Before we worry about the front page bounce rate, we need a basic definition.

So what does the term “bounce rate” mean? It’s actually pretty simple. Your bounce rate is the percentage of people who enter your website and exit from on the same page with just the single interaction.

More simply, it shows you how deeply — how many pages — your visitors actually explore.

We’d all love to have folks read one page, then move to another, and then another. The longer someone stays on a page, the better our analytics, after all. The more pages they visit, the higher our page view stats.

For some websites, the bounce rate could signify that people aren’t moving through your site the way you want them to.

But what’s a good bounce rate?

A while back, I wrote about that question and I quoted the website RocketFuel:

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.

Notice that last line?

For blogs, it’s a little different.

A business that provides specific services or sells merchandise wants a higher bounce rate. That means customers are browsing their wares. It also means there’s a better chance the customer will find something to purchase.

But blogs (hopefully) provide useful information. Remember that pesky term SEO? It stands for “search engine optimization.” It’s the process in which we bloggers craft our posts so that they rank higher in search results.

And that’s where things get complicated.

If someone searches for a specific question our SEO-friendly content can answer, the search engine may send them to us. A post that answers their question has done it’s job. And the post with good SEO that lands them here means we’ve done our job.

But once the reader gets the answer to his or her question, if that’s all they need, that’s going to be the only page they likely visit. That means our bounce rate is going to suffer.

Still, given that we’ve provided useful information and satisfied the reader’s need, that’s not a bad thing!

You’ll probably see your blog’s overall bounce rate is very high. Again, that’s not the end of the world.

So why worry about bounce rate at all?

Here’s where that front page bounce rate comes into play. Your front page is what people who likely aren’t coming to your site from search results will probably land.

So your goal with your front page is to get people in, to give them a reason to explore. A good front page design makes people want to go deeper. A bad front page design might just push them away.

That’s why I monitor my front page bounce rate just to see if that page is at least driving people in.

For 2019, my front page bounce rate was 57.6%. That’s several points lower than it was in 2018, so I consider that a victory. The lowest bounce rate I’ve recorded in the past four years was in 2017, when it was 44.58%.

I’d love to get the rate back down to that. So I was able to complete a change I’ve been wanting to make for a while but couldn’t because of a problem with the theme. I reached out to the theme developer and they were able to work out the problem. (I’m a content producer, not a coder. I try to stay in my lane.)

So you may notice on my front page that rather than the typical list of only the most recent posts, there’s now a filter. You can look at the most recent of all categories, or you can filter to the category you’re most interested in. Across the top of the section, to the right of “Browse by topic,” are a few of my most popular categories:

If you hover over the “More,” a dropdown appears of the remaining categories that don’t fit across the top.

Since I focus on seven categories, I know there are some every reader may have no interest in. But I hope there’s always at least one that anyone would care about.

I’m hoping this new feature will lower my front page bounce rate by even a few more percentage points over the course of the year. More importantly, I hope it will help readers find what they’re looking for even faster when they happen to land on my front page.

Do you ever check your front page bounce rate? If so, have you found any tricks to lower it?

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.