What is bounce rate and what do I need to know about it?

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bouncerate-smDo you know what your bounce rate is? Or do your eyes glaze over when you start to think about website analytics and numbers?

Do you know why it matters, or even if you should be worried about it? 

Don’t worry you’re not alone. It’s taken me a long time to figure out what it is, what it means and how to evaluate it, and figure out what it’s telling me about my sites.

Simply put, bounce rate is the percentage of visitors to your site who, once they get there leave the site altogether without visiting any other page before they leave.

You know how impulsive people are. They click on a link, then quickly determine that’s not what they’re looking for and before you can snap your fingers they’re gone.

That’s someone who “bounced” from your site.

So what does a good bounce rate look like?

Bounce rate is the epitome of a relative statistic when it comes to your website. Different kinds of sites are going to have different rates. 

E-commerce sites have different bounce rates than content driven sites, which are different rates than landing pages and niche sites, and lead pages. 

According to Kissmetrics, the average bounce rate runs around 40%. That’s average. Doesn’t mean it’s what you need to shoot for, just that it’s the average.

You want to shoot for numbers below that. I’ve seen it mentioned that you want to shoot for less than 35%, of course depending on the type of site you have.

Why do users bounce?

If you’re going to make any real progress on reducing your bounce rate, you need to figure out where the potential issues that are causing visitors to bounce are coming from. Take a look at these things and see how you’re site is doing and see if there is something going on there that you can improve upon.

Site Speed – your site loads too slow

If your site loads slow, you’re liable to bouncing traffic. Simply put, visitors to your website don’t want to spend a lot of time waiting for your site to load. You need to test your site to see how fast it’s loading and see where you need to make improvements to your site’s performance. No one wants to wait on a slow site.

Not what they were looking for

When someone lands on your site, it could be that what you’ve got there isn’t what they’re looking for, they’ll leave. This is why it’s important that the traffic that you’re driving to your website is appropriately targeted. So when you’re creating your content and doing your homework always make sure that your title, your content, your links, and your keywords are all appropriate – as well as compelling – for your subject.

Content didn’t live up to expectations

Just because you get them there, and your content is relevant, it doesn’t mean that they’re going to stay if the content isn’t any good. Your content on your site has to be fantastic. There is no way around that. Look, I get it. Content creation is already hard, and creating outstanding content is even harder. But that doesn’t really matter. Awesome content is the minimum requirement these days just to get in to the game. Work on honing your craft.

Hard to navigate

You may get a visitor to your site, but if your site is hard to navigate you could be in trouble of losing the visitors you’re working so hard to win. Make sure your site is easy to navigate and intuitive.

Users don’t know what to do next

Having the visitor on your site, then not giving them a clear call to action, or something that they can do next will bounce traffic too. Each piece of content needs to have a purpose for what you want them to do, whether it’s opt in for a newsletter, leave a comment, click on a related blog post or something else, just leaving them with nothing to do will cause traffic to bounce too.

The best way to make improvements is to set a baseline for yourself for your site and then work on making improvements on that baseline. This way you can measure your progress against yourself, and work on making improvements without getting too caught up in what others say about what your bounce rate should be.

There are other factors that may be more important to gauge the success of your site and its offerings like pageviews per user, time on site, unique visitors and actions, but never discount the relevance of bounce rate.

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What would you add to the discussion on bounce rates? I would love to hear from you! Let me know in the comments below. 

image by Josh Kenzer