What is a Bounce Rate?

Google Analytics: Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is another term that is clearly misunderstood.  People ask SQs and IQs (stupid questions and ignorant questions) like, what should my bounce rate be?  Is 60% to high of a bounce rate?

Please don’t get me wrong, I am not demeaning anybody when I label these as stupid or ignorant questions.  Ignorant, by definition, means “lacking knowledge, information or training.”  It does not mean you are stupid or you chose to ignore the facts.

So, what is a bounce rate?

Website owners will typically employ web analytics like Web Trends, Omniture, Google Analytics and other piece of software that help web managers measure, track and understand web visits and visitor behavior.

A “bounce” means that somebody came to your website and then clicked the back button.  Usually, this means that the web visitor landed on the page, realized they were in the wrong neighborhood and did a U-turn.  But, a U-turn is not always a bad thing.

For example…

Suppose that a web visitor Googled a phrase like, “what is cloud computing,” and they land directly on this page: What is Cloud Computing?  The web visitor lands on the page, reads the answers, is satisfied and then does a U-turn.  When they click the back button their web analytics considers this a “bounce.”  Is that bad?  Not necessarily.

Now, I suppose if the purpose of the article was for the user to take a Call to Action like sign up for a news letter or buy a website or pick up the phone can call somegbody.  In that case, I suppose a bounce is bad.  But, if all you are doing is trying to educate your web visitor, introduce yourself as an expert and build web visitor loyalty then this particular bounce is not really bad.

Overoptimization

Suppose you optimized your website, or your website naturally ranked very high for a very generic term.  Say that you are run a website for the Central Atlantic Regional Soccer (CARS) association.  But, every time a car buyer Googles, “cars” your site comes up.  They click on your website, realize you are not a car dealer and then back out.  Is that a bad thing?  No, its a great thing.  You are dominating the search engine for a very popular generic term.  That is a bounce I would be happy to have.

So, what is a good bounce rate?

There is no such thing.  Bounce rate is only one of many factors that you need to consider as part of your overall assessment.  Personally, I would be more concerned with a shopping cart abandonment rate or my conversion rate.