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What is the bounce rate?
March 18, 2020
STOCKHOLM


Bounce rate is often a topic discussed when Google Analytics comes up, and to be able to participate in the discussions, you first need to ask yourself this: Do I know what a bounce rate is?

Bounce Rate in Google Analytics

The bounce rate is usually the first thing that catches the eye of the Google Analytics user. This is usually the metric we use as a starting point when we assess the site's development and success. It is also the metric that can etch itself in the user's senses. "It must not be too high!" we have sometimes heard. But this is usually taken out of context because the bounce rate is more complicated than just a metric that should reflect the site's success. The fact that the bounce rate is high does not necessarily mean that it is terrible and low does not necessarily mean that it is good for that matter. To develop that, we need to figure out what a bounce is.

What is a bounce?

There will be a bounce when a session only contains one interaction meeting (ex, page view) sent to GA. In more understandable words, it becomes a bounce when a visitor enters a site and then leaves it, without having done anything more. This means that even if the visitor enters the site, reads continuously what is written for ten minutes, and then leaves the site, a bounce will be registered. This is because no more interaction meetings are sent to GA during the ten minutes by default.

The bounce rate is then the percentage of sessions that come to the site but then leave after only one interaction meeting.

The bounce rate gives a general picture of how engaging the site is as a whole. It provides an indication, nothing else. A site may have more pages that may affect how visitors experience the site and affect the average bounce rate for the site. But the general picture says nothing about how individual pages or sources perform, which can make the prevailing bounce rate unclear.

Therefore, you need to take a closer look and compare the bounce rate for each page and source to better understand how they are performing. Then you can get a better understanding of the purpose of the pages and how it comes that visitors leave that particular page or navigate further from there.

Is a high bounce rate bad?

It does not have to be. What is the purpose of the page? If an e-commerce sells socks, a high bounce rate may indicate that something is not right with the site. It may not be engaging enough for the visitor. Or could it be that individual pages have a high bounce rate? For example, the contact page? In that case, it could mean that the visitor searched for contact information for those who sell socks and came to the right page and got all the information needed. They could, therefore, leave the site without having done anything more. In this case, this indicates that the contact side with a high bounce rate fulfills its purpose. But this will still affect the average bounce rate of the site.

For example, the contact page? In that case, it could mean that the visitor searched for contact information for those who sell socks and came to the right page and got all the information needed. They could therefore leave the site without having done anything more. In this case, this indicates that the contact side with a high bounce rate fulfils its purpose. But this will still affect the average bounce rate of the site.

For sites such as 911.com, the main goal is to inform visitors about important information. They should get the information quickly and efficiently without navigating through most of the pages to find what they are looking for. Here, the high bounce is something you strive for in that case.

To make the analysis work a little smoother, you can add custom alerts in Google Analytics that notify you when it becomes too high or too low.

Is a low bounce rate good?

Of course, a low bounce rate is good if the site aims to capture the visitors' interest so that they want to visit more pages on the site. For e-commerce sites that usually have different products and services they offer on several different pages, it is important for them that visitors feel interested and want to know more and, therefore, navigate the site to finally make a purchase.

But a low bounce rate is not always a delight to the eye. This can be misleading and may indicate a tracking error. I have seen many times that there are duplicate tracking scripts on sites that cause duplicate pageviews to be submitted; this affects the bounce rate. As the picture below shows.

Low Bounce rate in Google Analytics

In addition, the bounce rate is affected by default by events sent to GA. Events are interactions that can occur on the site, and it can, for example, be a chat that you put event tracking on. And by default, events are non-interaction events with false as the default value.