Bounce rate is the percentage of site visits that are single-page sessions, with the visitor leaving without viewing a second page. It is typically used as a measurement of a website’s overall engagement.
Bounce rate is calculated by the total number of one-page visits divided by the total number of entries to a website. For example, if the homepage of a website receives 1,000 visitors over the course of a month, and 500 of those visitors leave the site after viewing the homepage without proceeding to any other pages, then the bounce rate of the homepage would be 50%.
Bounce rate and exit rate are both used as proxies for website engagement, but there are subtle differences between the two. Bounce rate measures the number of users who enter a website and exit without visiting any other page on the website. Exit rate measures the number of users who exit a website from a specific page.
The key difference between the two is that exit rate measures the percentage of visitors who exited a certain page, but it does not say anything about whether that was the only page that user visited or not. Therefore, all bounces are exits (and one-page visits), but not all exits are bounces.
For example, if 100 people land on the homepage, and 50 of those people leave without visiting any other pages, then the bounce rate of the homepage is 50%. However, the homepage may receive 400 pageviews over that same time period, and only 100 of those leave the site from the homepage. In that case, the exit rate would be 25%.
There is no such thing as a ‘typical’ bounce rate. With over four billion pages on the Internet, it is challenging to generalize for this metric, given the wide variety of website types and industries targeting a vast and diverse audience.
The definition of a “good” bounce rate is also subjective based on the type of page, and the source of traffic. For example, if you have an informational article that answers a specific question, and the primary source of traffic to the page is from organic search, the bounce rate of the page could be as high as 90%. This doesn’t mean that the page is necessarily a “bad bounce rate” even though it has a high bounce rate, it could just mean that the user found exactly what they were looking for, and no longer had any need to view any other pages. Conversely, a page with a low bounce rate may not necessarily be “good” if it has a poor user experience.
HubSpot has compiled a rough benchmark of bounce rates by industry that show the average bounce rate across different types of sites. Take these numbers with a grain of salt, but they could provide a rough guideline for gauging the performance of your pages.
40% – 60% content websites
30% – 50% lead generation websites
70% – 90% blog posts
20% – 40% retail / ecommerce websites
10% – 30% service websites
70% – 90% landing pages
Before engaging in activities to reduce your bounce rate, you should study your web analytics to see where changes are most needed. That said, here are examples of effective ways to improve pages with a high bounce rate:
One way to reduce bounce rate is to refine how the metric is being measured. Analytics software such as Google Analytics will count a visitor as a “bounce” even if the user spends a considerable amount of time on the page and interacts with items on the page, so long as that visitor leaves the site without viewing other pages.
A potential solution to this is to generate virtual pageviews in Google Analytics for relevant events and, in turn, create a more specific definition of bounce rate for your website. For example, if you have an interactive page and a visitor interacts with some element of the page, you can generate a virtual pageview in Google Analytics. This will allow you to track how many people engage with your page, and also prevent active viewers from being counted as bounces.
Looking at your analytics to identify the different traffic sources of users can be helpful to identify where your website's bounce rate is most in need of improvement. For example, users coming from an organic search engine query may find your content very helpful and, in turn, have a lower bounce rate and higher conversion rate.
If you want to increase the engagement level of visitors to your site, the most impactful action to take is to identify and highlight content that you think they will like (such as pages that receive the most traffic organically). Once you have identified this content using web analytics, you can design your website so that the most engaging content is prominently displayed above the fold. For example, if you run an e-commerce site, devoting prime real estate to your best-selling items is an effective strategy, as they are the most likely pieces of content to earn a click from a visitor and generate a higher conversion rate for that landing page. Where possible, all content should include titles, images and descriptions that drive CTR.
If a significant percentage of your traffic comes from returning visitors, another technique for reducing bounce rate is to keep your content fresh, ensuring that it is updated regularly. Repeat visitors will be more likely to engage with content that is new and timely, increasing engagement.
Website Design & Usability
In addition to displaying the most popular and relevant content, you can also make improvements to the website design and usability itself to make it more engaging for visitors. This might involve activities such as improving the quality of the graphics, using good color contrast and modifying the font size and spacing so text is more easily readable, and improving the calls to action on the page.
Your site should be designed so that users can find what they are looking for in as few clicks as possible. Offering a large search bar as well as a clear navigational structure can improve engagement, especially if your website offers a wide array of products or services. Navigation menus should have a clear hierarchical structure.
Using a responsive website design can also contribute to reducing bounce rate. With the increased percentage of visits from mobile devices, this is now more important than ever. Your webpage could display perfectly on a 1024x768 desktop, but look terrible on an iPhone 6S. Menus and images need to be formatted to respond to device and screen size. You should modify your pages to use templates that are responsive, robust and adaptive.
One important usability fix that can help reduce your bounce rate is page load time. Studies show that users are more likely to navigate away from a page if it takesmore than a few seconds to load. There are a variety of testing tools that can diagnose page load time and help you troubleshoot this issue.
On a final usability note, removing pop-up ads and other data-heavy elements from your site can also reduce bounce rate. A/B testing different website improvement ideas is a good way to be confident that the changes you make positively impact your bounce rate.
Comparing bounce rate by channel (i.e. organic, referral, direct, paid, social media) will help you see whether there are issues with your traffic sources, which could indicate a problem higher up the funnel.
If one channel has a higher bounce rate than others, it is worth examining your marketing campaigns or efforts for that channel. For example, if visitors coming to your site via display are bouncing at a higher rate, make sure your ads are relevant to the site content on the landing page you are sending them to. If you are not already doing so, you may need to create landing pages that are specific to campaign with clearly displayed call to actions in order to reduce the bounce rate.
In general, matching your highest search keywords to your content will help attract users to the content you have. If you target generic keywords that are popular just to get traffic, you won’t be able to convert that traffic as effectively.
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