The bounce rate can often be a matter of concern for a lot of site owners. Is it too high? What can you do about it?
You see that number staring at you in your traffic analytics and it can seem offly high. Is it too high? Is it something you should be concerned about?
This isn’t a very complicated topic when you get right down to it. Let’s take a look…
Table of Contents
In This Post…
What Is The Bounce Rate?
The bounce rate is simply the percentage of people who come to your site then immediately back away and go somewhere else. In other words, they don’t click anywhere else on your site.
It is based off a single user session. If that user session enters your site, sits there for some length of time and then proceeds to leave… then that is considered a bounce.
They don’t click on anything. They may scroll around a bit, but they click on no secondary pages. They simply leave.
If you have a traffic analytics package that also gives you an exit rate, it is important to know that that’s an entirely different metric. An exit rate is simply the percentage of people who left your site from that page. In other words, it was the last page they visited. That person might have visited other pages on your site.
Bounce rate and exit rate are two very different numbers.
Differences In How The Bounce Rate Is Measured
If you look at the bounce rate in different statistical programs, you may see different numbers.
Overall, bounce rate should be pretty much the same across the board. But, for example, I used to use an analytics package called Clicky instead of Google Analytics. While Analytics gave me a bounce rate of 76%, Clicky gave me me a bounce rate of just 32%.
The difference is usually due to how that analytics package determines a session timeout.
Today, I use acalled Fathom Analytics. And I will say that the number reported as the bounce rate is exactly the same as what Google told me: 79%.
Keep in mind, too, that you can apply bounce rate to your entire site or to a single page. Each page of your site will have it’s own bounce rate. Your site will also have an average bounce rate for the whole thing. The site-wide bounce rate is determined by the overall number of visitors who visited only one page divided by the total number of visits.
What Is Considered A Normal Bounce Rate?
This is where you get into the “should you worry?” issue. 🙂
Before we talk numbers, it is important to note that what is considered “good” or “bad” is completely relative and, frankly, barely a valid judgement to make. It can vary a lot depending on the volume and type of traffic you get to your site.
Reference sites, for instance, that usually answer the person’s question on one page are likely to have a higher bounce rate. Is that bad? No! It just means the page did an effective job of answering the question (hopefully).
Reference sites, blogs, tutorials, news and other similar sites are likely to have higher bounce rates. Often between 80%-90% and it isn’t really anything to be too concerned about.
On the flip side, if you had a small business website where prospects bounced off your page at 80%-90%, then that’d be bad. It means that page is likely doing a pretty poor job of communicating to the prospect that that business could solve their problem. It seems irrelevant or poor quality and they bounce.
So, it is certainly important to note that bounce rate is very much dependent on the nature of the site and the traffic. There is no universal standard. Having a high bounce rate is not always a sign of poor performance.
For informational sites, bounce rates of 80%-90% are pretty normal and not necessarily a matter of concern.
Ecommerce sites typically see bounce rates between 20% and, perhaps, 50%. These kinds of sites would usually inspire more clicks if the people who arrive on the site are actually potentially interested in what that site is selling, so lower bounce rates are typical.
Small business sites should also have lower bounce rates typical to ecommerce. With these kinds of sites, you can more accurately use bounce rate as a metric for how well that small business site is actually matching the needs and wants of the people who visit the site.
How Can You Reduce Your Bounce Rate?
Again, you need to look at bounce rate in the context of the type of site you’re running. That said, let’s look at some common ways to reduce your bounce rate.
#1 – Open external links in a new window.
It is common for blogs to link out to other sites. It is how the internet works.
But, make sure those external links are set to open up in a new window rather than outright removing the reader from your blog.
#2 – Include Internal Links To Your Own Content
Your content must link to other content on your site. Internal linking is an important component ofanyway.
I would recommend you create links for any relevant keyword phrases in your content to other blog posts on your site. 3-5 internal links (or more) is best.
Obviously, these links provide ways to earn that second click on your site and that reduces your bounce rate.
#3 – Ensure your site is mobile-friendly.
These days, making sure your site provides a good experience on mobile devices is just SEO 101. You absolutely have to do it.
For bounce rate, however, it makes perfect sense. If somebody visits your site on mobile and it looks like hell and is unreadable, they’re going to leave.
So, be sure to visit your own site on your phone. Test your site on mobile devices of different screen sizes. Is the text easy to read? Is there anything getting in the way?
Make sure your site is readable and doesn’t require zoom or side-to-side scrolling to read anything. Make sure to hide any site elements which get in the way. Also make sure your site’s speed is good and isn’t getting bogged down with bloat.
#4 – Avoid Disruptions That Hurt The User Experience
User experience is a huge part of SEO these days. Poor user experiences causes people to bounce.
One of the worst and most common disruptions is opt-in popups. They are massively annoying. Some people even use those full-screen “welcome mat” popups and it completely takes over the entire screen.
If you insist on using popups on your site, make sure you at least exempt mobile devices from seeing them.
#5 – Ensure The Page Sufficiently Satisfies The User’s Intent
We’ve all had the experience of searching for something, arriving at some site that showed up in the search results only to find out that the page doesn’t answer your question at all. Our next action is to back out and try another site.
So, one of the important things you need to do is actually make sure that your site and your individual pages is effectively communicating the value and meeting the user’s intent.
A few things to consider are:
- See what keywords are referring traffic to the page. Then, evaluate your page to see if it is being effective at answering the user’s question or concern who entered those keywords. Is it a match?
- Look at your traffic sources. Sometimes you can find that some traffic sources bounce higher than others. When you find that, look at what the user’s intent is when they come from that traffic source. Is your site meeting their expectation?
#6 – Give your visitors a reason to click on something else.
This really gets down to the core of the matter. The way to get them to click to a second page (and not be counted in the bounce rate) is to give them a compelling reason to click on something.
I know. It’s a rocket science. 😉
If you are running a blog with a lot of articles, can you link them to other related content?
Can you provide them a highly relevant call to action which tightly matches what they’re looking for?
At the same time as giving them a compelling “next step”, you want to reduce the distractions on the page so that they focus in on that next step rather than going cross-eyed in a sea of confusion.
OK, Time To Bounce
I hope this article has helped to demystify this topic of blog bounce rate for you.
I know some worry about it. They don’t know if their’s is too high or not.
If you are running a content-heavy site, a higher bounce rate is pretty normal. For a site which has the primary purpose of generating leads and sales, then a higher bounce rate is something worthy of more focus.
I hope this post has provided some perspective as well as some ways to reduce the bounce rate if it is something you have determined to be worthy of doing something about.
UPDATE: 3/28/2023: This post was originally written in 2013 and was massively updated to ensure proper coverage of the topic of bounce rate and re-published.