bounce rate

Bounce Rate According to Wikipedia

For the longest time, I thought that “bounce rate” in google analytics meant that people were leaving the landing page they entered from the search in a given period of time.  Wikipedia defines it as:

Bounce rate (sometimes confused with exit rate) is an Internet marketing term used in web traffic analysis. It represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and “bounce” (leave the site) rather than continue viewing other pages within the same site.

The article continues saying:

A bounce occurs when a web site visitor only views a single page on a website, that is, the visitor leaves a site without visiting any other pages before a specified session-timeout occurs. There is no industry standard minimum or maximum time by which a visitor must leave in order for a bounce to occur. Rather, this is determined by the session timeout of the analytics tracking software.

Bounce Rate According to Google

So, to me, that means within a specified time…like 30 seconds or a minute.  However, if you visit Google’s help pages, they actually clarify by saying:

Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page. Use this metric to measure visit quality – a high bounce rate generally indicates that site entrance pages aren’t relevant to your visitors. The more compelling your landing pages, the more visitors will stay on your site and convert. You can minimize bounce rates by tailoring landing pages to each keyword and ad that you run. Landing pages should provide the information and services that were promised in the ad copy.

Bounce Rate in Google Analytics Means Just Leaving the Entrance page Immediately After Landing there

Thus, it means that someone could be sitting on the one page and reading incredible content on that landing page and simply leave.  For example, let’s say you searched for “top google searches 2012.”  You might see our post entitled “Top Google Searches in 2012 by…” and click through to it.  It’s a longer article/post frankly and so it might take you a minute or so to digest it & you might contemplate other thoughts while reading it.  You might even comment on it.  So, if you sit there for more than 2 minutes, but then leave, it’s still a bounce.

As Kissmetrics explains, people could leave for many reasons including the following which make this a somewhat misleading metric.

  • clicking on a link to a different page on a different website
  • clicking on the “back” button to leave the site/page
  • closing an open window or tab
  • Typing a new url
  • Session Timeout

And let’s also include:

  • Computer outages
  • Blue Screens
  • And a number of other scenarios that we can probably think of that probably all qualify for the session timeout

However, does that necessarily mean that “bouncing” visitors are all bad?  As you can see, not necessarily because there may be other things that are achieved despite just surfing one page of a website.

  • The visitor could of gotten everything they wanted
  • Some people just want a phone number
  • Or contact details

Anyway, it’s not always a great metric either given that people who do “engage” by surfing more than one page do usually appear to be “better visitors” though.



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