All about the bounce rate [Complete guide]
What is the bounce rate? How to calculate it? What is the average bounce rate of a website? How to see it in Google Analytics? So many questions that will be answered in this comprehensive guide.
Definition of bounce rate
What is the bounce rate? The bounce rate corresponds to the percentage of Internet users who have visited only one page of a website. The Internet user who arrives on page A leaves the site without having consulted other pages.
Here is the official definition of the bounce rate by Google: “The bounce rate corresponds to the number of sessions with consultation of a single page divided by all sessions, or the percentage of all sessions on your site during which users only accessed a single page and triggered a single request to the Analytics server. “
This is a crucial indicator for judging internet user satisfaction. The bounce rate was provided to us for free by Google Analytics.
The definition and calculation of the bounce rate can also vary depending on the type of website; we will not judge a bounce rate for an e-commerce site in the same way as for a showcase site or a blog. We will come back to that.
Be careful not to confuse the bounce rate and the return rate. The first is a simple indicator, while the second is an SEO criterion. I come back to this later in another chapter.
How to calculate the bounce rate?
The bounce rate is obtained by dividing the number of bounces by the total number of sessions. We get a percentage. We can say that there is a rebound when the Internet user:
- Close the page
- Exit the site via an external link or a new URL typed in the address bar.
- Click on previous to go back
- Is inactive for more than 30 minutes
There is no need to manually calculate the bounce rate because Google Analytics provides it for free. Therefore, we can say that a bounce rate of 50% means that one in two Internet users only visits one page. In most cases, the bounce rate should be as low as possible. We will talk about it a little further down.
What is the point of calculating the bounce rate?
If you have a website, your goal is to achieve conversions (purchase, contact, request a quote, etc.). It is rare that a user who does not know you convert immediately. Most of the time, he navigates from page to page in search of information. Therefore, in most cases, it is reasonable to keep the Internet user as long as possible on his website and have him navigate from page to page.
The bounce rate makes it possible to identify pages that do not keep users on the website. Frequently, a high bounce rate highlights a content or user experience issue. It may be a page that does not satisfy the Internet user. But there are a few small niceties.
See the bounce rate on Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is an excellent performance monitoring tool. If you haven’t installed it yet, follow my tutorial. The bounce rate is everywhere in Google Analytics. Here’s what to do to keep the essentials:
- Audience – Overview: depending on the period determined, you will be able to see the overall bounce rate of all the website pages.
- Audience – Mobile: in this part, it is possible to see the distribution of the bounce rate according to the medium used by the Internet user: mobile, tablet, and desktop.
- Acquisition – All Traffic – Channels: here, you will see the distribution of the bounce rate according to the acquisition channel.
- Behavior – Site content – Landing page: it is possible to see the bounce rate of each page one by one.
- In the same part, you can add a segment in the upper part in the middle. Choose the segment “traffic generated by natural results”. You will be able to see the SEO bounce rate of each page.
To have a good overview of the bounce rate, it is preferable also to collect other data from Google Analytics, such as the time spent on each page and the number of pages visited per session.
If you need help finding the bounce rate on Google Analytics, please feel free to contact my team.
How to interpret the bounce rate?
What is a good bounce rate and a bad bounce rate? A high bounce rate means that most people on your website have only visited one page. Usually, this is not a good sign. On the contrary, a low bounce rate means that most internet users visit multiple pages. It’s usually better to have a low bounce rate.
What is the average bounce rate? What is a good bounce rate?
Most web marketers will tell you that there is no good or bad bounce rate; we will see a little lower than this can vary depending on the type of website. In my opinion, the lower the bounce rate, the better:
- Less than 40% = good bounce rate
- Between 40 and 60% = average bounce rate
- Greater than 60% = high bounce rate
Causes of a high bounce rate
A high bounce rate can indicate the dissatisfaction of the Internet user. Arriving on page A, he realizes that the content does not meet his expectations. This dissatisfaction can have several causes:
- Too long loading time: If the page takes too long to load, the Internet user may lose patience and leave the website, increasing the bounce rate.
- There is a lack of consistency between the Title tag and the content: if the Internet user comes from search engines, he may have been seduced by a tempting Title tag. If the content of the tag does not match the page’s content, the user may feel cheated.
- Poor quality content: if the text is unclear or indigestible, the Internet user will not read it.
- Lack of internal networking: how the Internet user can navigate from page to page if there are no internal links. An excellent internal mesh makes it possible to reduce the bounce rate.
- Too much advertising: Overly intrusive pop-ups or banner ads are detrimental to the user experience and can make navigation difficult on mobile.
- Too complicated navigation: an overloaded menu is the best way to lose the Internet user. Giving him too many choices is going to take an extra effort that he probably won’t.
The limits of the bounce rate
We have seen the causes of a high bounce rate. These causes are mainly due to user dissatisfaction, but there are some subtleties. Sometimes an Internet user only visits one page simply because they have found the information they are looking for. He, therefore, does not need to go any further. This is the case of an Internet user looking for a definition, for example.
On e-commerce sites, it is common to have a bounce rate close to 40%. Internet users rarely visit a single page. They often visit several product sheets and must-visit several pages in their purchase process (cart – payment – thank you page). So it’s not normal to have a high bounce rate for this kind of website.
On the contrary, it is not uncommon to find editorial websites with a high bounce rate. These websites offer information, and if they answer it on one page, the Internet user will look no further. This is the case when looking for capital, a definition, or a celebrity. We ask ourselves a question, and we find the answer. It is therefore normal to have a high bounce rate for this kind of website. However, is that a good thing? I don’t think so. I will come back to this a little further down.
Is the bounce rate significant?
Is it essential to calculate your bounce rate? Yes and no. As we have just seen, it depends on the type of website. For me, in any case, a high bounce rate is not reasonable because the objective of any website is to convert Internet users, something that rarely happens after having visited only one page.
So I think yes, this is an important indicator, and it should be as low as possible. But this is not the most important indicator. For me, as an SEO consultant, it’s mostly the return rate that matters to me.
Bounce rate and return rate: SEO update
It would be best if you did not confuse the bounce rate and the return rate. Although very close, there is a small subtlety:
- Definition of the bounce rate: A user visits page A and immediately leaves the website without action.
- Definition of the return rate: The Internet user does a Google search, visits page A, comes back in the search results, and visits page B.
As you will have understood, a high rate of return is catastrophic for your natural referencing. This is an important Google criterion and needs to be looked at more than the bounce rate. While the bounce rate may be average if the internet user finds what he is looking for, it is not typical for the internet user to look for the information on another website.
The thing is, Google does not provide the return rate. It is impossible to analyze it. In my opinion, therefore, you have to rely on the bounce rate. If my bounce rate is good, then my bounce rate will be too.
Although the bounce rate is not a criterion for Google, it is necessary to do this because it will affect your Google visibility. Try to aim for a bounce rate (and, therefore, a return rate) as low as possible.
How to improve your bounce rate (and, therefore, your return rate)?
We saw above that certain types of websites can have a high bounce rate without worry. I can’t entirely agree. Let’s look at the Wikipedia website. It’s an editorial site that should generally have a pretty high bounce rate. I don’t have the site figures, but from experience, I’m sure the bounce rate isn’t that high. Why? Thanks to the internal mesh.
Improve internal networking
How to lower your bounce rate without internal meshing? It isn’t straightforward. This is the Wikipedia trick. Count how many internal links per page there are on a page. There are a lot of them, and this makes it easier for the user to navigate. Even if he is looking for a definition and does not need more, we still have to offer him something to keep him on the site. On an e-commerce site, we can add related products and, on a blog, related articles.
Improve the ergonomics of the page
If your content is not digestible, that your visuals are too small or ugly, that your website is not responsive design, then the Internet user will flee. You have to make the user want to read your content and stay on your website.
Improve site navigation
If we put aside the internal mesh, navigation mainly passes through the menu. An overloaded menu with lots of submenus will not please the Internet user, too much choices, kills choice. Try to have a concise menu to get straight to the point. Do not leave too many choices to the Internet user. Simplify his life.
Improve loading time
A page that is too long to load is hell for any Internet user. In website creation, we talk about the 3-second rule. Your content must load in less than 3 seconds; otherwise, the user will leave and increase the bounce rate (especially the return rate). Most of the time, a long loading time is caused by too heavy images. Check out my complete guide to optimizing images and improving loading speed.
Avoid overly intrusive elements.
Overly intrusive pop-ups and ads are detrimental to the user experience. Please don’t overdo it, especially the mobile. Prefer pop-up sliders or Hello Bar rather than a pop-up.
Write quality content
The Internet user must appreciate your content. You have to know how to give a lot of value to a web page. The more value you provide, the more information you cannot find elsewhere, the more Internet users will stay on your website. If the Internet user searches for the definition of bounce rate and finds a page of 50 words, that will not be enough. I recommend always offering 1000 words per page to Internet users.
Be consistent between text content and meta tags.
We have already talked about it. Most of the time, a high bounce rate is due to a lack of consistency between the content of the title and meta description tags and the page’s content. This happens when you over-sell your content in meta tags. The Internet user expects to find a lot of information, but in the end not. Disappointed, the user will leave.
To work well on your website’s bounce rate, you need to study Google Analytics. Study the bounce rate of each page, that of each device, each acquisition channel. Start by seeing if the bounce rate is the same everywhere or if it’s just a few pages. Also, don’t forget to monitor the long-term data to see how your bounce rate is changing.
Conclusion on the bounce rate
Generally speaking, the bounce rate is linked to the second pillar of SEO: user experience. If the user is dissatisfied, disappointed, or discouraged, he will leave your website, and this will increase your bounce rate and decrease natural referencing (via the return rate). Analyze it, follow its evolution, and above all, focus on the user experience. If you deliver great-looking, quality, fast-to-load, and SEO-optimized content, then you’ve got everything you need to lower your bounce rate.