Bounce Rate: Everything You Need To Know (6010 Words)

bounce rateBounce Rate is one of these subjects that I see on a regular basis in the blogging world. I guess that if it keeps being discussed, it’s because no-one gave a good answer or wrote a good post about it so far…

I decided to compile all the things I know about bounce rate and write an awesome guide to explain what is (Google Analytics) bounce rate and what it really means. I also give average bounce rates, as well as explain how you can reduce your bounce rate and go from a high bounce rate to a good bounce rate.

Ok, now it time to jump in. Be prepared for a long read because it’s one of the longest posts I have ever written!

What Is Bounce Rate?

First thing first. Let’s explain some terminology: Bounce Rate (which is confused from time to time with Exit Rate) is a metric used in web traffic analysis. This number represents the number of visitors who landed on your site and “bounced” (left the site) rather than visiting some other pages within your site.

To give a practical example: a visitor makes a search on Google, clicks on a result that leads to your site, doesn’t interact with your site, then he either closes the tab or he hits the “Back” button.

Another (more detailed) way to explain this would be to say that a bounce occurs when one of your website’s visitor only views one of your pages and leaves your website without visiting any other page before a session timeout occurs.

As you can see, this second explanation adds the “Time” factor. This means that a visitor will be counted as a bounce, not only if he closes the browser’s tab or hits the “Back” button, but also if he lands on your website, then switches tab to read stuff on another website, then comes back to your website’s tab only after some time.

I must add that there is no industry standard regarding the length of the session timeout. This duration is set by the analytics software you are using. If you install 2 different analytics software on your website, you might find different Bounce Rate values. This doesn’t mean that one is right and the other is wrong. This just means that they are not using the same values to do their computation.

However, a commonly-used session duration is 30 minutes. Which means that if a visitor visits a page, doesn’t click through to another page and let’s his browser idle for 30 minutes or more, they will be registered as a Bounce. If the visitor resumes his browsing after this delay, it will be counted as a new session.

An important thing to note is that, in web analytics, we are not talking about Bounces, but about Bounce Rate. Talking about Bounces is only relevant if we compare it to the number of Pageviews. The mathematic formula behind Bounce Rate is extremely simple. “Bounce Rate” equals the “Total number of visitors viewing one page only” divided by “Total entries to page“.

To sum it up for those of you suffering from A.D.H.D. we now know that a visitor may bounce by:

  • Clicking on a link to a page on a different web site,
  • Closing an open window or tab,
  • Typing a new URL,
  • Clicking the “Back” button to leave the site,
  • Session timeout.

Now that we have covered what Bounce Rate is, you may be wondering what are the reasons why we give so much importance to this number. Let’s move on to section 2 of this post.

Should You Care About Bounce Rate?

Bounce Rates has proven to be very useful to determine the performance of your pages at retaining visitors. If you understood the definitions that I gave in the previous part, it will be quite obvious to you that an entry page with a low bounce rate means that the page is making a good job at pushing visitors to view more pages on your website and go deeper into their exploration of what you have to say.

Bounce rate can be a good way to evaluate the quality of the traffic coming to your site. It shows how engaged are your readers by letting you know how many of your visitors are interacting in your site and exploring it but doing more than just scratching the surface of what you have to offer.

As a rule of thumb, I’d say that it’s commonly accepted that:

  • Low Bounce Rate = Good: You are doing a good job at retaining your visitors.
  • High Bounce Rate = Bad: Your visitors are not “captivated” by your website, AKA work on lowering your bounce rate ASAP.

Some Bounce Rate Numbers

Bounce Rate is one of these things on which importance everybody agrees, but when it comes to numbers, it’s another pair of sleeves.

Expert’s Bounce Rate (Probably Out Of The Blue)

For example, some experts will tell you that it’s almost impossible to get a bounce rate under 20%, that a bounce rate over 35% should be worked on, and that a bounce rate of 50% or more is extremely worrying.

The Real Bounce Rate By Industry

As I already explained, analytics numbers highly depend on the industry you’re in, however some studies have been made (lucky us) and here is what they found out.

Let’s start with metrics for an average website (all industries together):

  • Average time on site: 190.4 seconds
  • Average pageviews: 4.6
  • Bounce rate: 40.5%
  • New visits: 62.9%

When I first read these numbers, I was like “WTF?!“, then I realized that these are averages made by compiling data from all industries. Think about it for a second: “How long do you keep your Facebook and Twitter tab opened per day?“, if you’re like me, you probably keep these in an open tab all day long, which influences these numbers a lot.

To have more relevant numbers, let’s check the bounce rates (since this is the focus of this post) based on site type:

  1. Retail sites (driving well-targeted traffic)
    • Bounce rate: 20-40%
  2. Simple landing pages (with one call-to-action such as “add to cart”)
    • Bounce rate: 70-90%
  3. Portals (such as MSN, Yahoo, etc…)
    • Bounce rate: 10-30%
  4. Service sites (self service or FAQ sites)
    • Bounce rate: 10-30%
  5. Content websites (with high search visibility, often for irrelevent terms)
    • Bounce rate: 40-60%
  6. Lead generation (services for sale)
    • Bounce rate: 30-50%

As you can see, the number can be very differents based on the site type, which tends to show that the so-called “experts” numbers coming out of the blue are useless unless they are related to a given industry.

Dukeo’s Bounce Rate

Now, I’m not one to give numbers out of the blue, so let’s discuss numbers taken directly from Dukeo analytics. When I launched Dukeo, I used to have a sitewide bounce rate between 40% and 60%. Not so bad if I compare that to my other web properties. However, these days my bounce rate is between 60% and 70%.

There are many reasons for this evolution. First of all, I have decided to implement a lightbox popup to capture my reader’s emails. From the tests I’ve done, this popup doesn’t have a huge impact on bounce rate, but it may still be responsible for a small portion of the increase.

One of the main reasons for this increase is that I started posting some WordPress Hacks. I always find these snippets of code to be very useful to tweak a blog, however it gives a “quick fix” to the questions my visitor’s have, so they don’t need to visit a second page.

If I take a look into more details at bounce rate by traffic type, I can see that my bounce rate for search engine traffic is among the highest of my site.

The reason is extremely simple: the more a website grows, the more keywords it will rank for. Some of these keywords may be less relevant than others, which means that you get more and more lower qualified traffic to your website that might not find the exact info they are looking for and bounce off your pages.

I’ve also seen some bloggers reporting that their direct traffic has a high bounce rate. This is not the case with Dukeo for a very simple reason.

Direct traffic consists of people who typed the url of your website directly in their browser’s adress bar, or who saved your homepage in their browser’s bookmarks. These people are most likely your regular readers who will come again to read your recent blog posts.

Some blogs display full articles on their homepage,so when direct traffic lands on their homepage, they read the articles, then bounce (within the 30 minutes session timeout range). I’m avoiding this problem by displaying only post excerpts on the homepage so visitors have to visit a second page to read the full posts, and Voila!

Factors that influence Bounce Rate

There are many factors that can influence the Bounce Rate of your website. And luckily for you, you can take action on most of them. Let’s list the most common of them:

  1. Popups Ads/Surveys: No matter what type of popup (real popup/lightbox/…) you are using on your pages, they will always have an impact on your bounce rate. Popups are interrupting people on their way to the information they are seeking.
  2. Streaming Video/Music (negative): I’m sure it has already happened to you. Making a research on Google, visiting one of the result and jumping off your chair because you forgot that your computer’s speakers were on and some loud music started playing automatically. In that case, you generally just close the tab without even searching for the source of inconvenience.
  3. Streaming Video/Music (positive): Having a video above the fold on a well-designed landing page certainly adds some eye candy and it can held your visitors captive more easily (i.e. reduce bounce rate).
  4. Search Engine Ranking: I already talked about that earlier. The best search engine rankings you have, the more probability you have of ranking for irrelevant keywords and have higher bounce rates.
  5. Type Of Audience: If your audience has a very short atention span, there is a good chance that your bounce rate will be through the roof.
  6. Page Design: A poorly designed page tends to show that you don’t really care about your visitors and you don’t intend to make their visit as nice as possible. Why would they want to stick around?
  7. On-Page Advertising: Having too many ads on your pages can be really distracting for your visitors. If the ads look interesting to them, they might just click and be gone forever, without sticking on your website.
  8. Copywriting: Poorly written english tends to send wrong signals to your readers: it looks really unprofessional. Moreover, if the subject is not very clear to your visitors, there is a good chance they will just bounce.
  9. Traffic Type: As I explained earlier in this post, the bounce rate can drastically vary based on the traffic type. You’ll most likely not have the same bounce rate for Search Engine organic traffic, direct traffic, referrer traffic, social traffic,…
  10. Page Type: Depending on your page type, the bounce rate won’t be the same. A blog homepage, a product page on a retail site, a carefully crafted landing page,… won’t have the same bounce rate. Compare what can be compared!
  11. Industry: There is a good chance that your video games review website won’t have the same bounce rate as a news website.
  12. Load Time: The longer it takes for your page to load, the higher the bounce rate. People are very impatient online!
  13. Outbound/Inbound Links: If your page is filled with links to third party websites, there is a high risk of your visitors clicking on one of them and just going away. Be careful with the outbound/inbound links ratio.
  14. Page Purpose: If the goal of a page is just to capture visitor’s email then send him to an affiliate offer, you won’t be expecting the same bounce rate as a carefully-crafted article about Bounce Rates ;).

How To Improve Your Bounce Rate

bounce rate improve

Now that you have a better understanding of what is Bounce Rate and the things that can affect it, you may be wondering how you can actually decrease it for your own site.

Lucky you! This is exactly what this section is all about. It’s now time to work on decreasing your bounce rate and make your visitors stick around to better engage with them.

1/ Cross-Link Your Posts

Anytime you publish a new post, you should insert some links within content to your previously published content. By simply doing this, you will see an increase in pageviews and a decrease in bounce rate. Cross-linking your articles works perfectly well when you have a lot of content.

Aditionally to increasing pageviews and reducing your bounce rate, interlinking your blog posts will help with SEO by helping you rank better for your chosen keywords (Why not kill 2 birds with 1 stone?).

  • Manual Cross-linking: The most obvious way to interlink your articles is to do it manually. With recent versions of WordPress, you can easily search for the posts you want to link while adding links to your post content. This is certainly way the best way to do it in terms of link quality because you can carefully choose the anchors of your links, however this can be very time-consuming.
  • Automatic Cross-linking: Since adding links manually can take some time, and going through your archives to interlink your previous posts would take ages if you have huge archives, you might want to use an automated way to create these links. Plugins links SEO Smart links can do exactly that. Read more about it in this review: SEO Smart Links: WordPress SEO Plugin Review.

2/ Build A Clear Navigation System

Building a clear navigation system for your blog is absolutely essential if you’re serious about improving your visitor’s experience. It will give them an easy and clear possibility to browse your pages, hence decreasing your bounce rate.

Every time someone will land on one of your pages and use your search box, the results are loaded on a second page (no more bounce). Talk about a win-win situation.

3/ Display Search Box Prominently

This happens to me all the time: I visit a blog to search for some specific information, but can’t find it because there is no search box and I’m certainly not going to browse all the archives, so I just bounce.

Displaying your blog’s search box prominently is as important as having a clear navigation: you’re giving another option to your readers to browse more of your content, and it will decrease your bounce rate at the same time.

4/ Show Excerpts on HomePage / Archives

Showing excerpts (a couple sentences, 2 short paragraphs at most) on your homepage and archives has one huge advantage: when someone hits that page, if they are hooked by one of the excerpts, they have to click-though to a second page to read the full post, so they won’t be counted as a bounce.

The other advantages of displaying excerpts on your homepage instead of full posts is that it helps with load times, as well as giving the reader a better taste of what your blog is about, by giving them small bites on a wider variety of subjects.

Don’t forget that some of your readers are coming on your site for the firsttime and you want to convince them that some of your content is appealing to them.

To display excerpts on your homepage, the first thing to do is make sure that you have files named page.php and single.php in your theme’s directory. If you don’t have these 2 files, you need to make 2 copies of index.php and rename them to page.php and single.php. Then, you just have to edit the index.php file in your theme’s directory. Search for:

the_content();

and replace it with

the_excerpt();

Save the file and you’re done.

5/ Show Related Posts

There are several reasons that can push your readers to just bounce off your blog once they are done reading a blog post. One of the main reasons is that they just don’t know what to do next.

One way to make them stay longer on your site and explore further is to display a list of “related posts“. There are plenty of ways to do that very easily with WordPress Plugins. You can display related posts based on titles, content, tags, categories, author…

If you visit my My Toplist of 10 Free WordPress Plugins, you can grab te plugin called: Contextual Related Posts. This one displays related posts based on content.

6/ Manage External Links Carefully

Outbound links are open doors to let your visitors go away from your blog. You have to be careful when inserting links to other websites on your blog, whether it be in post content, sidebar or footer.

Now, I’m not going to remove all the links to other websites on your blog, for one main reason: I strongly believe that increasing your pagerank and search engine rankings is not all about being linked from other websites, but is also about linking to valuable resources.

Instead of cutting out all the outgoing links on your blog, you should just use them cautiously. If you don’t want to cut out all your outbound links, you can at least make them open in a new window by adding target="_blank" to it.

This is not particularly user-friendly because if everyone was to do that, we would end up with hundreds of open tabs each and every day, but it will do the job since people will eventually have to get back to your blog’s tab and this gives them another chance of visiting more of your pages, hence not being counted as a bounce.

7/ Use Your Sidebar Wisely

It’s a shame that people don’t put more thoughts into deciding what they will put into their blog sidebar, even though it could play a very important role in increasing the pageviews and reducing bounce rate.

A lot of bloggers are making a big mistake here by thinking that the more stuff they’ll put into their sidebar, the more chance someone will click it. This generally ends up being a big widget-party.

If you want to keep your sidebar as clean as possible, there is only one thing that you need to have there: a list of your most popular posts. If people like the post they just read, there is a good chance that they will want to read more and what’s best that showing them the content that is liked the most?

The easiest way to display a list of your most popular posts comes in 2 times.

  1. First, you’ll need to install the Jetpack WordPress Plugin. This is actually more of a Suite of plugins developped by the same team as WordPress itself. Once installed, make sure that you activate “WordPress.com Stats“. “WordPress.com Stats” will compile the pageviews for each of your post for each day.
  2. Second, you need to install another plugin called WordPress.com Popular Posts. This plugin will allow you to add a widget to your sidebar to display the most popular posts of your blog. You can customiez the widget to display the popular posts by week, month, all time,…

Another thing I like to do with my sidebar is showing the most recent posts on all pages but homepage. When a visitor lands directly on a post page, he can quickly check the most recent posts of the blog without visiting the homepage.

The goal here is not to prevent him from clicking a link to visit the homepage, but rather to give a possibility to explore recent posts to people who wouldn’t have visited the homepage otherwise.

If you have developped your own product, you can create a banner and put that in your sidebar as well since one of your blog’s goals is to sell your product.

8/ Reduce Your Page Load Times

You may think that this one is just for geeks who want to reduce their load times by a few seconds to brag about it, but the consequences are way more important than that.

The simple truth is that, since the development of broadband internet, we all lost our patience. If a webpage is still all-white and loading after 10 seconds, do you go back to your search or do you patiently wait for it to be fully-loaded? Like all of us, you just get back, being unsatisfied by this website that doesn’t work properly.

People don’t want to wait! They want to get access to the information they are seeking, and they want it instantly (or almost). To ensure that your blog delivers its content as fast as possible, you should follow these guidelines:

  1. Update WordPress and all your plugins to the latest versions to ensure there are no known bugs in them.
  2. Delete unused plugins from your blog to make sure they are not pointlessly using some resources from your server.
  3. Optimize your images to make them lighter. You can install the plugin WP Smush.it to automatically decrease your images’ filesize whenever you upload a new image to your blog.
  4. Be careful with external resources such as youtube videos, Facebook like button, Twitter button, social buttons in general,… I understand that they add a lot of value to your blog, but you need to use them sparingly or you risk to lose control over your pages’ loadtime.
  5. Stop using external ads such as Google Adsense. There is a good chance that they are increasing your loadtimes and you’re making only a few cents out of them.
  6. Install a caching system: For those of you who don’t know, when a visitor lands on one of your pages, some php code is processed on your server and some information is retrieved from your database to populate the page. Once you start receiving a decent number of visitors, it can be quite demanding for your server’s hardware.

    This is where the caching system comes into play. When a first visitor gets on your article page, the content of the page is recorded as static content in HTML. This static content is then served to whoever visits the same page, preventing your website from using a lot of server resources again.

    On Dukeo, I’m using a plugin called W3 Total Cache. I’ve tried several caching plugins and this one is the most solid and complete plugin I found to cache my pages.

  7. Install Yahoo’s YSlow to check your pages and see what is slowing down your website. YSlow analyzes web pages and suggests ways to improve their performance based on a set of rules for high performance web pages.

    YSlow is a browser extension that grades web page based on one of three predefined ruleset or a user-defined ruleset, offers suggestions for improving the page’s performance, summarizes the page’s components, as well as displays statistics about the page.

    I suggest that you Download YSlow right now to check your webpages’ issues.

  8. Install Google’s Page Speed to check your pages against another set of optimization rules. It works pretty much the same as YSlow but it might give you different results since its focus might not be on the same aspects. You can Download Google Page Speed here.

9/ Splitting up Long Posts

If you’re used to writing very long posts, or display gallery of pictures’ type posts, you might want to consider splitting them into multiple pages. WordPress makes it extremely easy by using the tag where you want to split your post.

This method is actually used by a lot of the big names out there such as MSN, Yahoo, Wall Street Journal or the New York Times.

You have to be very careful when using this method because, even though it can easily decrease your bounce rate, you will need to have strong content to justify the article-splitting into several pages.

10/ Link To A Glossary Page Defining Industry Terms

This one can be implemented with little work and can have great results based on the industry you’re in. Write down a glossary and link to it whenever you’re using industry terms which might be obscure to some of your readers. This way, you’ll have them click to learn the definition of said term, and they won’t be counted as bounces anymore.

11/ Use A Custom 404 Page

Here’s another easy way to reduce your bounce rate: use a custom 404 page. The Error 404 page is displayed whenever a page can not be found. This is a placeholder for missing pages.

When a visitors hits a missing page on your blog, you don’t want them to bounce back, so you have to capture their atention by having your own custom Error 404 page.

The best way to use your 404 page is to link to a few popular posts of your blog, as well as adding a search box so they can do a keyword research on the topic that made they come to your blog in the first place.

12/ Create an “About” Page

This one is probably among the most visited pages of any blog. When visitors hit a blog, they like to know who is behind the posts. Writing an “About” page and featuring it prominently in your blog navigation will give your readers another option to hit a second page on your blog, thus decreasing your bounce rate.

13/ Encourage Random Browsing

Encouraging your visitors to browse your site randomly could sound counter-intuitive since the visitor doesn’t have any idea where he’ll land on your site. However, never underestimate the fun factor and human’s curiosity. It’s yet another simple step to give your visitors an option to hit a second page on your blog and decrease your bounce rate at the same time.

14/ Keep Your Blog Design Clean

I’ve already written several posts about the importance of having a clean custom WordPress theme for your blog. Today, I’d like to focus on that point again. Having a visually appealing blog design is not only appreciable as a visitor but it’s an absolute necessity if you want to decrease your bounce rate.

We’re not in the early days of the internet anymore, you won’t get away with blinking colors and a poor design. If you want your visitors to spend some time on your site, you need to have a professional-looking design.

You should apply the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Stupid Simple) principle to your blog design. Even more important than having a clean and simple blog design, you should keep the clutter to a minimum level. Having a cluttered header, navigation, sidebar, too many ads, every possible widget in the book, are only going to push your visitors away.

Keep the visual noise to a minimum if you want people to feel at home.

15/ Remove Popups

Let’s be honest, this form of online marketing, also called interruption marketing, has some (potentially very) positive results income-wise: this is why so many people are using popups. That being said, it can have some dramatic consequences business-wise because it tends to disrupt the visitor’s experience by getting right in front of his face while on his way to some content he is interested in.

You have to be very careful when using popup ads, popup survey, popup signup forms (Aweber), and you should wisely weight the pros and cons.

Since my goal with this post is to help you decrease your bounce rate, I would advise you to remove any kind of popup you may be using on your site. You’ll see an instant improvement in your bounce rate.

16/ Make Your Blog Easy To Read For Everyone

There are 2 aspects you should work on in order to make your blog easier to read for everyone, the first of which is language. You certainly do not want to use too complicated words since you want your content to appeal to the masses.

You need to use easy language that can be understood by anyone from High School and above. The best way to make sure your posts are easy to understand is to write them as if you were writing to explain something to a kid.

This is a problem that I don’t really have with Dukeo because English is not my first language and, even if I really enjoy this language, I most definitely lack some advanced vocabulary, making it absolutely impossible for me to write with complicated words.

Moreover, you should always use short sentences and short paragraphs. Let your text (and your readers) breathe.

The second way to make your site easy to read for everyone is to make it visually easy on the eye. There are a few simple rules that you should keep in mind when selecting and tweaking your graphic design.

  • First of all, for God’s sake, don’t go fancy with the fonts, even if you find that “funny“. Your goal shouldn’t be to be “funny“, but to be nice to your readers.
  • There is a good reason all books are written in black on a white background (and it’s not the fact that paper is white). Black letters on a white background is the best type of contrast for easy reading.

    Moreover, it will make your blog look more professional. Did you notice how all the biggest sites are using black on white (or any other combination of dark font on light background)?

  • You should use all the possibilities given by HTML to give some visual depth and space to your blog posts. Use un-ordered and ordered lists, use blockquote, use bold, use italic, use headings, use images… All these visual and structure elements will make your content easier and nicer to read.

17/ Provide Relevant Content

This one should be a no-brainer. Once you start receiving traffic from search engines, you should check which keywords bring traffic to each of your posts and make sure your content is relevant to these keywords.

You might need to do some little rewriting a few weeks/months after your post is first published to ensure that your visitors are getting the information they seek when landing on your pages: this will improve your users’ experience and they are more likely to stay on your website for a longer time.

18/ Check Browser Performance

Your WordPress theme might have been built by a careless developer who might have worked exclusively with Firefox or Chrome. Since you might be using the same browser to visit sites, you might not have noticed that your website is not being loaded properly through other browsers. This is more likely to happen if you are using a free WordPress theme.

There are two ways to check if part of your Bounce Rate is caused by errors with a given browser. You can either visit your site with several browsers to see if they are working properly, or you can check your favorite analytics tool: Google Analytics, and break down bounce rate by browser type.

If you see important discrepancies in the bounce rate based on the browser of your visitors, you might want to try using another theme.

19/ Analyze Searches within Your Site

In a previous point, I insisted on the necessity of having a search box in a prominent place of your blog. Now that you have a search box on your site, you should let people tell you what they want. In order to do that, you should record and analyze what people are searching for. This is exactly what the plugin “Search Meter is made for.

If you notice that people keep searching for the same thing over and over again, you can find a way to feature the associated content in a more prominent way. If people are searching for some subjects but you don’t have relevant content yet, this is a good opportunity to write new blog posts focused on these terms.

20/ Test Different Solutions

Once you are able to spot an issue that might be increasing your bounce rate, don’t assume that it’s going to work for sure. You should rather find a way test the different possibilities against each other, either through A/B testing or multi-vaiant testing.

A huge part of online marketing and blogging is about tweaking and split-testing to make sure your have the best-performing solution.

21/ Get Your Readers To Comment

No, this is not a trick to get you to comment on my post ;). Getting your blog readers to leave a comment on your posts decreases your bounce rate.

When a reader leaves a comment, the page is reloaded to post the comment and get it displayed at the end of the page, which means that even if they leave your site just after leaving a comment, they won’t be counted as a bounce anymore.

There are plenty of ways to get your visitors to leave a comment… For example, you can ask for the comment at the end of your post or you can ask a question.

22/ Get Your Readers To Subscribe

You may be wondering why getting your blog readers to subscribe to your email list might help you with bounce rate… The answer is simple: when you submit your email and name through any of my email subscription forms, you get redirected to a custom page on my own domain that explains the benefits of subscribing and the next required action to confirm the subscription. A second page on my domain and BLAM! You’re not counted as a bounce anymore.

If you’re not building an email list yet, I encourage you to register an account with Aweber (that’s only $1 for the first month, and you can even get your dollar back if you’re not satisfied within 30 days).

First, I invite you to subscribe to my email list with the following form to see the custom page I’m talking about (plus you’ll get access to plenty of exclusive useful content).

After you confirm your subscription by clicking the link in the email I’ll send you, you’ll see that I also use a customized “Confirmation Page” that helps greatly in terms of building the relationship with my audience.

Once you’ve created your form with Aweber, on step 2 (Settings), you must change the “Thank You Page” to “Custom Page” and input the URL of your custom confirmation page.

Word Of Caution About Bounce Rate

The Bounce Rate numbers that I gave earlier in this post have to be taken with extreme caution because the Bounce Rate of a website depends on a lot of factors.

Moreover, the analysis and interpretation of Bounce Rate shoud be done in correlation with a website’s objectives: a high bounce rate doesn’t necessary means that your website has poor performance.

If your visitors are coming with a clear objective (getting some contact information, getting a snippet of code,…) there is a good chance that they will get their answer on the first page. In these cases, a high bounce rate is not meaningful to determine a website’s success.

Bounce rate is particularly important in industries such as eCommerce (where a conversion is confirmed after several pageviews) or blogging, where one of the goals is to build a recurring visitor’s audience which spends some time reading what you have to say on various subjects.

In that particular case, a visitor may land on your site on a blog post page after researching a specific term on Google. The article might be fully relevant to the subject and give answer to the questions he might have, so he won’t need to visit a second page after that. Your page might have a bounce rate above 60% and could still be considered successful in fulfilling their purpose.

Final Word About Bounce Rate

The real value in web analytics is not data in itself. Data is not an end. Data is a necessity, data analysis is the mean, and action is the end. The whole idea behind getting your Bounce Rate lower is to increase the visitor’s experience on your site.

Now, what about you tell me the bounce rate you are observing with your website and the actions you are planning to take to decrease your bounce rate?

Stéphane Kerwer
Article written by Stéphane Kerwer (1995 Posts)
Bonjour from a french guy. My name is Stéphane Kerwer and Dukeo is my blog. I do most of the heavy lifting in here but from time to time, you may see some guest posts. To receive updates from Dukeo, follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.
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33 Comments (Add one)

  1. bbrian017

    First of all, this isn’t an article you would come, read and go. Anyone visiting this article MUST save it or bookmark it to take real advantage of the information being shared. I’ve always had issues with Bounce rate and some of the suggestions your mention blow my mind I would had never even thought about in the past.

    I know removing ads, or creating relevant content I will help but you listed 22 amazing ways to reduce bounce rate and trust me I rarely say I’m blown away because I’m normally not. With that said this article share some of the most advanced unique ways to keep traffic on your site I hope this goes viral so more blogger can read and benefit from this.

    Like I suggested others do, I have saved this to my favorites as it’s obviously something I will need to refer to many times and not just once. But I just had to comment and say thanks as I know you busted your but to write this one… just wow!

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Wow! Thanks a lot for the kind words Brian. I have definitely put a lot of work into this article to help my fellow bloggers with their bounce rate issues.

      Any help is appreciated, and I’ll be forever grateful to anyone who will comment/share/like/+1/tweet this post!

      1. bbrian017

        You know I’m going to be doing a guest post today that talks about keeping readers on your blog and I hope you don’t mind but I would love to share this article in the guest post. Keep your eye opened for that trackback!

        1. Sté Kerwer

          That’s awesome! Looking forward to it.

  2. Paul Salmon

    That is one thorough and detailed post. I have always struggled with bounce rate on my blog as it has always been unusually high. I am going to have a look at the SEO Smart Links plugin as it looks like it can make my post linking easier.

    I haven’t seen too many issues yet with a high bounce rate, but I’ll try to decrease it as it may be holding my blog back and I just don’t know it.

    1. Sté Kerwer

      I’m glad if it helps! A low bounce rate is generally the sign of a healthy blog :)

  3. Stacy
    Stacy

    This is a great resource on lowering bounce rates! I’ve definitely saved this to come back! I’ve always had a lower than normal bounce rate and there are a few things that I do that I think really make a difference. One is to have a thank you for commenting page which thanks a first time commenter and shares some links that they might like. People love that and often ask how I did that. I also have a custom 404 page like you mentioned and a couple of search boxes. Basically I have links to other pages and posts all over the place! :)

    1. Sté Kerwer

      The “thank you for commenting page” is a very good idea too. The custom 404 page generally does wonders at recapturing visitors that would otherwise be lost :)

  4. Charlie
    Charlie

    3 AM here, and I was lucky to sleep late, because got updates from Dukeo in my Inbox that led me to this very detailed and helpful topic.

    This is a first-class content from Dukeo I always liked. 6051 words that will surely make me come back to this article, again and again.

    I agree with you, increase the visitor’s experience will lowering the Bounce Rate. I am also pay attention to keep clean the UI, design and page navigation.

    Thank you Sté

    1. Sté Kerwer

      I know 6051 words is a lot more than usual blog posts, but this article is so filled with information and goes nicely together, so I didn’t want to split it in several smaller posts. Bookmark and use it for reference in the future.

  5. Fauzul

    Wow what a read, glad I managed to finish it. I like about the tips on how to reduce the bounce rate. Would be good steps to implement in future when if my blog gets tons of visitors.

    Right now I have a bounce rate of under 10% but that is due to low traffic I think. Daily traffic would just be around 150-200 normally.

    1. Sté Kerwer

      I’m sorry to be the one telling you that, but a 10% bounce rate is quite unrealistic. You might want to check that your Google Analytics code is not getting loaded twice on your pages. (This is usually the reason for such a low bounce rate).

  6. Andrew

    Epic post here; definitely going to re-read to help let all of the excellent advice sink in. Some of your tips were things I’d never thought of before.

    Also, interestingly, I’ve recently been working on web analytics for a library website. In that case, the main goal is often to guide visitors quickly and easily into outside databases, which makes the bounce rate metric a complicated question because sometimes a bounce is exactly what is the best for the user.

    1. Sté Kerwer

      I’m so happy to hear all the positive feedback about this post!

      As I write in the post, defining bounce rate as a key metric really depends on the goal of the website.

  7. Ray

    One day my bounce rate is fairly high, the next day much lower. It seems so up and down from one day to the next. Before I added WordPress to my main site, the bounce rate was much higher. I don’t know if it is just coincidence or if WordPress is really helping it. I think part of my high bounce rate comes from the main part of my site is mostly tutorials. People have a problem, they come find a solution and then they leave right away until they have another problem. That is my thinking anyway. The funny thing is I have a site, which is much smaller and the bounce rate is much lower. Go figure. Anyway this was a very detailed and impressive article.

    1. Sté Kerwer

      If your website is only receiving small traffic, it can be tricky to analyse your bounce rate. In that case, you might want to display your stats “by week” in Google Analytics instead of “by day”. You will get a better idea of what’s going on.

  8. david
    david

    Excellent and very informative post on bounce rate. I’m using W3 total cache as well and I have found that implementing it increased by adsense revenue. People are getting everything quicker including the ads.

    This post is worth reading for anyone who is concerned about user experience too.

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Thank you for the positive words David.

      You’re right: having a website that loads faster makes the user experience a lot better and it has positive consequences on other key metrics such as website revenue.

  9. meddyjackson
    meddyjackson

    This is a nice post in an interesting line of content, I appreciated what you have done here. Thanks for sharing. Regards,

    1. Sté Kerwer

      I’m glad you found the post useful!

  10. Amit Shaw

    Yes really bbrian sir you are right its a viral article. I am going to printout this. My bouce rate is 40- 50% but hope i can dercrease it o 30 to 40 by avobe tips. Really Thanks for this article

    1. Sté Kerwer

      You’re welcome Amit! I hope it will help. Keep me posted with your results.

  11. Steve Moran
    Steve Moran

    Terrific/amazing helpful article. Couple of thoughts as it applies to me:

    - Looks like I actually have a pretty good bounce rate for a news/content website given the numbers you provided, so that pleases me.

    - Been using campainer and mail chip to send news updates. Never heard of Aweber. Looks much better and less expensive to boot.

    - The idea that they can create a email out of an RSS feed is terrific.

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Hey Steve, thank you for your comment!

      I’m always glad if I can be of any help to my fellow bloggers ;)

  12. Andy Morley
    Andy Morley

    This is a great post, not only because of the “Mr Man” character you used at the beginning but it also introduces some really useful tips on helping to increase website conversion rate!!! Closely related to bounce rate, especially for eCommerce websites, improving bounce rate also has the knock on effect of improving conversion rate, and the end result is a more profitable site and a happy site owner…

    Great stuff.

    Andy

    1. Sté Kerwer

      That’s absolutely true Andy!

      Reducing bounce rate means increasing your ROI. No matter which type of website you own.

  13. Michael Franz

    Great post! We did AB testing that targeted only increasing our bounce rate and the results were very telling. Sometimes a focused analysis is the only way to get all the departments on the same page.

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Thanks for your comment Michael! I agree… Testing testing testing…

  14. igmck
    igmck

    I am only starting to blog and this is an incredibly helpful, well rounded piece. I came to it from a twitter RT. Thankyou

  15. Arby
    Arby

    good article, but i didn’t find the info i am looking for and wonder if you can help?

    we redesigned our website and when visitor comes now they get a popup that explains why there is a new look, and that new features are added. It is just a message that comes the first time a user visits the new design. they X out and end up on homepage. Does the X out of popup count as bounce?

    1. Sté Kerwer

      If you are using a lightbox popup, it will not be counted as a bounce since it’s only a “graphical trick” to get them to see some content in priority

  16. Anne-Marie Watson

    Fabulous article! What an effort it must have been to write this-but worth every bit! I will be tweeting it to my ‘blogger” tweeps as a must read! Fantastic content: congratulations!

  17. Malhar Barai

    Great post Ste.

    Am surely bookmarking this post and will be looking at it again and again. For someone who has high bounce rates, this is a one-stop resource.

    You can look forward to a trackback as I write an article on SEO.