Understanding Google Analytics Terms - Bounce Rate

Here at Visual Lizard we use Google Analytics to track the site traffic to our web projects. Analytics is a very deep and powerful application from Google. With a price tag of free it also fits most of our client budgets perfectly.

Over the years, we have heard the same questions many times. Today I’m going to tackle plain-english explanations for a couple of the more common ones in regards to BOUNCE RATE.

Visuallizard.com Bounce Rate - April 2009

What does Bounce Rate mean?

The bounce rate number that you see in Google Analytics refers to any visitor that arrives at your site, then immediately leaves without clicking any deeper.

As an analogy think of throwing a rubber ball (the visitor) against a wall (your site). It normally bounces right back to your hand without bouncing a second time (further clicks into your site).

Google defines a bounce rate as "Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page." You can read their definition at http://www.google.com/support/analytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=81986.

What is a good bounce rate?

We hear this quite often. While you want your bounce rate to be as low as you can get it, if you get any search engine traffic at all, you will get some bounces. If your bounce rate is 40% or less, then you are doing well.

A bounce rate between 40%-60% means that your site is coming up well in search results, but doesn’t present the information visitors are looking for immediately. Or your site might be appearing in many searches that are not necessarily relevant to your site content.

A bounce rate above 60% means that there are some presentation and or content issues with the site that should be looked at.

So What Should We Do About Our Bounce Rate?

There really is no straight answer to this question. It all depends on the type of site you are running. A huge site with a ton of pages and many articles or pieces of information about a specific topic, will likely have a much lower bounce rate than a small site with a broad topic base.

However, there are some basic things you can do to address your bounce rate. One of the main things is to make sure that your headlines on your articles or pages are actually matching up to the content that is provided on that page.

For example, an article comparing "lawnmower models" should have a headline of "Comparing Lawnmowers from Company A vs Company B for Power, Fuel Consumption and Ease of Use" rather than a title like "Company A is Better than Company B" when those companies might make products other than lawnmowers.

The first headline in this example is clear, details the products you are comparing from the two companies and what criteria you are judging them on. This should get you better qualified traffic to this article. Better traffic usually means a lower bounce rate.

Here is a terrific article from Avinash Kaushik, Google’s Analytics Evangelist, about helping to understand bounce rate and what you can do to try and fix it if your bounce rate is really high.

Hopefully this article has helped shed some light on the bounce rate term as it pertains to your web site traffic. If you have any suggestions, questions or ideas for further terms to cover, please leave them in the comments.

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