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I Came, I Puked, I Left: Understanding the Bounce Rate in Google Analytics

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bounce rate
High bounce rates are only good for some! Image Source: Mark Robinson

Far too often, search campaigns focus on vanity metrics like unique visitors or page views – but what if an increase in page views and visits has no effect on your conversions? How can you identify what is going wrong? Introducing the bounce rate, one of Google Analytics’ most neglected metrics. The web analytics expert Avinash Kaushik fondly refers to the bounce rate as the sexiest metric, because of how it can revealing its information can be. In technical terms, the bounce rate of a site refers to ‘the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page‘, or as Kaushik puts it, when your visitor “came, puked, and then left”.

So what’s a good bounce rate?

Okay, you’re probably thinking at this stage – what is a good bounce rate? On average, a good bounce rate for any site can sit between 40-60%. This is because you’re not going to ever please everyone in this era of short attention spans, and besides, not everyone that enters your site is ready to convert. However, if you’re reading this, then chances are that you’re not the average webmaster and want to know how you can improve the quality of traffic and increase conversions.

How to measure the bounce rate

Bounce rate is measured across Google Analytics in the audience, traffic sources and content sections. It is a great performance indicator that measure how well your SEO, PPC or other campaigns are performing.

How about some examples to get you started? First, let’s try checking your site’s average bounce rate. This can be found by clicking on Audience in the left hand side panel, followed by Overview. This average bounce rate figure is best used as a comparison to find out which of your sites landing pages are converting well, and which aren’t.

Site Average Bounce Rate
Site Average Bounce Rate

To see how each of your landing pages (the first page on your site a visitor sees) fare, click on Content in the left hand side menu, and expand Site Content where you should see an item called Landing Pages. Once the page has loaded (see below), click on the comparison button [1] in the dashboard, and then choose bounce rate from the drop down menu [2].

Comparing your landing page to the site average
Comparing your landing page to the site average

This is a quick way of identifying problem areas of your site. Problems may include irrelevant information, poor design or that your campaign is targeting unqualified visitors.

The second way of using the average bounce rate is to check on the performance of your organic keywords (accessed via Traffic Sources > Sources > Search > Organic). As above, click on the comparison button and select Bounce Rate from the drop down menu.

Bounce Rate: Keyword Comparison
Bounce Rate: Keyword Comparison

At an instant glance, it is easy to see that the top 10 keywords of this campaign are performing in terms of bringing in qualified traffic – people who are searching for products or services you offer, and want to know more. If your results are showing the opposite where the majority of your keywords have a high bounce rate, this would indicate that your site is either non user-friendly, or provides irrelevant information. This is often seen in highly optimised sites (think stuffed with keywords for the search engines’ benefit, rather giving visitors the information they want).

For a better understanding of how to use bounce rate information across all your campaigns, watch XXXX’s talk on Successful Web Analytic Approaches below:

Bounce Rate has been around for a very long time, yet it is still a confusing metric for a lot of site owners to grasp. If there is more you would like to know about the bounce rate metric, leave your comments or questions below!

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is a digital communications specialist helping businesses grow through targeted content. She has been featured on prominent websites including Wordpress.com and Slideshare.net. Paula enjoys photography, internet memes and watching cats on YouTube.

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