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What is Bounce Rate and What Does It Mean?

By Edited Jul 10, 2016 1 0

Define: Bounce Rate

In internet speak, the bounce rate is expressed as a percentage of website or webpage visitors that leave the webpage they entered without going to another webpage on the site.  Bounce rate therefore measures the number of visitors who leave the website without visiting more than one page on the website.  

95% Bounce rate would be a high bounce rate while 20% might be a low bounce rate.  Bounce rate is all relative - high or low depends on comparing to similar sites or webpages because what might be considered a high bounce rate on one webpage maybe very low for another webpage with a different objective.

The rest of this article will help you understand how to manage Bounce Rate profitably.

Where Do Visitors Come From?

When a reader visits a webpage they may come in from one of these sources:

  • Direct Traffic:  Directly typing in the website name like www.innovativepassiveincome.com  A person may visit directly if they already know they want to come to innovative passive income dot com because they are a previous visitor, they saw the site mentioned or recommended, or someone told them to visit the site complete with the URL.  In the case of some sites, people may become direct visitors by guessing the website name will be relevent to their search - like one might expect to find hotel information at hotels.com 
  • Referral:  The visitor followed a link they found online - maybe on a blog roll, in an article, or elsewhere. (these traffic sources are listed as a Referring Site on Analytics)
  • Paid Advertising:  Following a link embedded in a paid Google Adwords ad
  • Search:  Finding the website in a keyword search and clicking on the search results to visit the website. 

What is Bounce Rate?

Where Might Visitors Go?

Once they are on your website or webpage, visitors have a variety of places to go (partly depending on what options the webmaster gives them).

Following a link or a menu option to another part of the site does not count as a Bounce in the Bounce Rate.

These destinations count as a Bounce in the Bounce Rate (assuming the visitor goes there from the first page they enter on the site on, and not after visiting more than one page on the site).

  • Clicking an advertisement
  • Following an affiliate link offsite
  • Following a regular link offsite
  • Hitting the back button
  • Closing the browser completely, or closing the tab on the browser for the site in question
  • Using a Google search box hosted on the site to find something off site 

Is a Bounce Good?  Bounces Seem Like A Bad Thing

This depends on the objective of the site and what type of site it is.  It also depends on the type of bounce.

Example #1:  An e-commerce site that attracts visitors to the homepage and hopes they go deeper into the site to buy stuff.  A conversion on the e-commerce site can not happen until a visitor finds something to buy, goes through checkout (on or off site) and completes the purchase. This sequence involves visiting multiple pages beyond the home page including product pages, shopping cart pages, and thank-you pages.  A high Bounce rate for the home page indicates that visitors are getting to the site, hating the home page (or finding it irrelevant to their needs) and leaving.  So a high Bounce rate would be awful for an e-commerce site.

Example #2:  A single article on Infobarrel about Playfoam by Educational Insights.  This product review could be found via search terms like "playdoh alternatives" and the interested visitor will read up on the wonders of Playfoam and where to buy Playfoam.  Hopefully the reader will click on an Amazon link to buy some the sculpting toy.  If they do go to Amazon than that visit is counted as a Bounce because the visitor did not go to any other page on Infobarrel.

If the visitor did follow a link to a related article on the site or maybe a backlink in the article to another on site article, this visitor would not be counted as a Bounce but the would not earn the writer anything either.  

How to Tell the Difference Between Good and Bad Bounces

Looking at the exit paths from the website will help determine what type of bounces the website is experiencing.  Take the total Bounces in the period less the number of visitors that followed paths offsite that are desirable to understand the true bounce rate.  The numbers will be thrown off by visitors that went to several pages before they exited.  Also the number of Ad clicks is a factor too. An exact number will be elusive but a good idea can be pieced together.

How to Reduce Bad Bounces

  1. Create engaging content that will attract the readers.  
  2. Make the content reasonably free of errors - content with obvious spelling or grammar errors is not trustworthy.  Readers will just hit the back button or close the tab.
  3. Tell the visitor what they can expect from the article in the opening paragraph. If they know they will get what they are looking for they are more likely to stick around
  4. Include photos, graphics and videos because these have  been proven to make readers stick around longer.
  5. Make it easy to follow links to other parts of the site
  6. Try to craft the site SEO to attract readers who will be interested in the actual content.  Driving a bunch off traffic who are actually looking for something else is going to drive up that bounce rate.  

For example, with some backlinking and clever SEO this webpage could be made to rank for keywords around Playfoam but that would just bring in readers who would immediately bounce by hitting the back button.  

How to Encourage Good Bounces

  1. Place your ads effectively
  2. Place your affiliate links so they are attractive without being too push with the links
  3. If the purpose of the articles is to get the reader to follow a link to another web property, make sure that the reader has a clear opportunity to do that.

Conclusion - to Bounce or Not to Bounce

The value of a high or low Bounce rate all depends on the objective of the webpage.  The use of good headings, attractive photos and graphics and good quality information will help keep the reader on the page.  A well written article can convince the reader to take the action that the writer hopes they will take, which might count as a Bounce if that action takes the reader off site.   

How to control bounce rate on a website

What is Bounce Rate?
Credit: Wikipedia Creative Commons
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