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Understanding Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is the percentage of website visitors who arrive at a website entry page, then leave without going any deeper into the site, it is another service provided by many traffic analyzer software and a great guide at the time to make decisions over your marketing campaigns and where to focus your efforts most go.
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Understanding and analyzing the Bounce Rate of your websites.

The Bounce Rate measures the quality of traffic and how well that traffic is attracted to your website. A low Bounce Rate, followed by a high rate of conversion from visitor to customer is the ideal.

There are two definitions of the Bounce Rate:

  • The percentage of visitors who arrive and leave a website immediately.
  • The percentage of visitors that visit just one page on a website.

The two measurements give slightly different results.

Using StatCounter, the Bounce Rate can be derived from the "Visit Length" for visitors who left after less than 5 seconds. Google analytics provides a Bounce Rate using the second definition.

Interpreting the Bounce Rate

A high Bounce Rate may indicate that the website needs a new direction. A low Bounce rate does not guarantee success. If the conversion rate is low, then you may need to review the type of visitor that is currently being attracted to your website.

If the second definition of the "Bounce Rate" is used, the number of returning visitors may be a more meaningful statistic to judge the quality of traffic:

  • websites that comprise just a single page can have a high Bounce Rate.
  • websites that supply information on a single page, like a Wiki, can have a high Bounce Rate.
  • Blogging websites usually have a high Bounce Rate.

There is no average Bounce Rate that can be called good or bad. An acceptable Bounce Rate depends very much upon the type of the website, the target audience and expectations. The only real criterion is the conversion rate - i.e. the number of new customers derived each month from the website. If the conversion rate is not acceptable, then the Bounce Rate, whatever it is, needs to be reduced.

Reducing the Bounce Rate

Some of the following points may provide ideas for reducing the Bounce Rate:

  • Spurious Visitors - Visitors frequently search and then click on a website where they find that the content is not what they wanted at all. They will quickly leave, unless they find something to attract and interest them. Serendipitously some could become customers.
  • website Design - Poor site design will repel visitors. A dark background, gaudy colours, flash animation or sound can cause visitors to immediately depart. It may be difficult for the visitor to work out how to proceed with the next step. The visitor may not find immediately what they were looking for and leave in frustration.
  • Backlinks - If the link is from a website where their content has no relationship to your website, the visitors are unlikely to stay long.
  • Page Load Times - A slow server or large page sizes will cause visitors to cancel and try the next website.
  • Browser Compatibility - Your website pages should appear the same in all the major browsers - Internet Explorer 7 and 8, Firefox and Chrome. I would not worry too much about the users of Internet Explorer 6. They will get the message sooner or later.
  • Target Audience - The Target Audience may have been chosen correctly, but the website may not relate to the Target Audience. The website should be attractive to, and use the appropriate language for, the Target Audience. Don't talk down to professionals. Use the idioms suitable for the audience.
  • Keywords - Check the Keywords used by the visitors who left immediately, and all the details that can be extracted, to identify this type of visitor. Make sure that you are not attracting too many non-targeted visitors. The Keywords are attracting visitors, but the content may not match visitor expectations.
  • Page Content - Find out which pages have the highest Bounce Rate. The content of these pages should provide meaningful information for the visitor. The content should intrigue the viewer sufficiently enough to look further. Insert well researched content or items of interest for the viewer. The content should be fresh, informative, and relevant.
  • website Fundamentals - Poor design or navigation that is not intuitive will lead to a high Bounce Rate. There should be a simple page structure, relevant page titles and headings, etc, etc.
  • Page Title and Meta Descriptions - Search Engines show the Page Title and often show the Meta Description in the results. These should accurately summarise the page content, otherwise you will get inappropriate visitors.

Evaluate the Changes

Measure the average Bounce Rate for your website over a few weeks prior to making any changes. After making the changes, the average Bounce Rate should be checked again.

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